Mindelo is be a lovely place but it cannot be compared to the Canaries. Coming from the Canary Islands where everything was reasonably priced and the weather was perfect, we got a quite the surprise.
It was quite a culture shock for me – growing up in England where everything is clean. For the first time in my life I saw a girl stop in front of my to pee or people selling fresh fish on the side of the same street. It was still store prices but you could negotiate with them (if you knew any Portuguese). Some streets smelled like a sewage, there was rubbish everywhere and some houses looked like they were about to fall down.
The most surprising part is that everything costs an arm and a leg for those people! We found that the basics (food and water) in Mindelo cost more than in the Canary Islands. Considering that 25% of people in Cape Verde earn less than 51,700 CVE (approx. 470 EUR) per month compared to 830 EUR in Spain, it should be the other way round. The quality of the food wasn’t the even best as all the meat was frozen and the groceries were refrigerated. We struggled to find quality fruit for the crossing. I think it cost the same to eat at the floating bar than at the boat.
We met this local there who said that we’ve got to try Lima (their local cusine) and brought us to a “good” restaurant. I tried it but it wasn’t wow. It was some fish with rice and boiled vegetables – nothing peculiar. It wasn’t even spiced. The guy hadn’t ever left Mindelo in his whole life which is weird because if I were from that country, I would’ve been curious of how the other islands look.
It’s also quite windy in Mindelo. We stayed two weeks there and we had already had a yellow Mistress from the wind and the sand. It seemed that everyday there was another sand storm. There was that much sand in the air that we couldn’t see Santo Antão. It’s also always cloudy making your brain silently have a fiesta when the sun is out. Honestly, I would rather have volcano ash than yellow sand on my boat – it’s easier to clean. On the last day one of our cleats from the middle got bolted out by the strong winds. There was a lot of movement at the pontoon as well – giving you the sensation that you were out at sea. But, at least it wasn’t as bad as at the anchor where we lost Mistress. It also rains but not enough to clean Mistress. There’s also not a lot greenery over there because it rains just enough to get you irriated, not to actually irrigate the soil.
However, Cape Verde does rub off on you because the people are so nice (always trying to help you even if they can’t properly communicate with you). For example the people who saved Mistress on our first day. They weren’t expecting any money from us. Or the nice lady whom made the Romanian courtesy flag for us. They know that being nice can get them a long way because, at the end of the day, they know that they’ll be helped if they need it. Sometimes people can be a bit too friendly which is still better than them ignoring you.
Overall, I had a good time in Mindelo. It was a new experience for me even though I do believe that they unfortunately got what’s worst from two worlds: taxes from Europe and poverty from Africa. Would I go back? The answer is “I don’t know”.