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Praia and Mindelo - a tale of two cities

We are recuperating still in Mindelo, the best harbour for yachts in the Cape Verdes and somewhere to which I hope to return to again before too long. 

It has an excellent well sheltered natural harbour, a very decent marina, and a lovely buzz, with vessels of all descriptions which generally arrive from the North with a plan to head West for the Caribbean and beyond.  

Ours is now becoming a delivery trip, we are headed for Gibraltar and the Med, from here it is uphill. Once a window appears in the generally strong NE Trades we will head off with a plan to rest again in the Canaries some 800NM NE of here. 

The Cape Verdes is a widely spread, volcanic originating, group of 10 (ish) islands 300 miles off Africa. With a fast growing young population of 500,000+, the newly (1975) independent republic has wonderful potential and many challenges given both it's lovely climate and location. 

Praia, the Capital, a city of 130,000 souls, on the island closest to the continent, was our original port of entry to the country last week. 

There is a busy commercial harbour some way from the old city and we were advised strongly by the Maritime Police to up our beautifully laid anchor and move in with the ships shortly after we arrived. Their concern was clearly our safety, and nothing else. 

Now firmly attached to concrete, and with friendly locals watching over us (paid in an occasional can of beer or cokacola) we had an uneasy rest for 24hrs - needed after our 11 days at sea through the ITCZ. 

However it did present an opportunity to explore the old town, located on a small plateau 2 miles from the port, a lovely, colourful, originally colonial administration center and now with plenty of well dressed locals in work suits as you might find in any Capital city. 

To the pics

1. Looking from the plateau back to the Port - a zoom may show Ruth II at her secure berth. Our original anchorage is in the foreground. 

2, 3, 4 & 5. There is a rich architectural heritage, much of which is still intact 

6. The port was busy with cargo, ferry and cruise ships. Some, though questionably seaworthy (zoom in on the bigger blue one), still had crew aboard, and one used the wharf in front of us as a brake rather than engaging reverse! Our just vacated berth was to the left of the tyre. 

Between the plateau and the port is plenty of human activity with fish being gutted and sold on the roadside and waste littering the hills, presumably dumped from the residential areas above. 

It's the only place I have ever has a gun pointed at me. Just before leaving I went back to the plateau for WiFi to post to this blog. Shortly after witnessing the beautiful First Communions (see yesterday's post), heading for a taxi, I noticed a large crowd gathered so I ducked away to be faced directly by a soldier with a real machine gun warning to get back. I withdrew - and shortly after a prison van came up the street and into the back of the courthouse, with the entire crowd clearly cheering support for its occupant. It gave me pause to wonder and hope that the political side of this relatively young country can come through for its people. 

Anyway, that's enough for today - pictures of Mindelo will have to be tomorrow.