Day 52, Wednesday, April 16, Dakar, Senegal Mindelo, Cape Verde

I am currently unable to log into Cruise Critic and my posting there will be delayed.

The Crystal Symphony is in Shanghai, China. The Crystal Serenity is at sea from Lisbon, Portugal to Southampton, England.

Once again I skipped the Lower Promenade Deck but this time my walk took me into central Mindelo, where wifi was working beautifully in a square by the Catholic Church. On the way into town the full moon was very bright, and I passed a statue by the waterfront commemorating an early transatlantic flight. It was well past official sunrise when I shut down my computer but the sun was just peeking above the hills of Sao Vicente. A sweet aroma was wafting by, and a bakery across the street from the square had fresh baguettes. I bought one intended for lunch, but ended up stopping at a local restaurant and the baguette was still a tasty evening snack.

With Fred Olsens Braemar in port the supply of buses was limited, but there was one tour. Volcanic Cape Verde was not very well named. We did see a volcano but only for about a minute as we drove by and it was the least prominent part of the tour. On the way out of town our guide Amanda (with driver Mr. John) explained that Cape Verdes independence day was July 5, 1975. We stopped first on the slopes midway up Mount Verde (the same spot as yesterday). The view was basically the same except that there were now 2 cruise ships in port. We continued past the cutoff to the beach we visited yesterday and this time stopped at Praia Grande Beach, an undeveloped beach with ample sand but strong dangerous currents. The beach is very popular in season for sunbathing but not really appropriate for swimming. At this stop we were offered a taste of the local liquor, nicknamed punch, appropriately for the wallop it delivers.

As we continued around the north end of the island Amanda pointed out the volcanos and stopped while a few people took pictures but we really didnt learn much about their history. Continuing on we saw the islands farm belt. With the extremely dry climate agriculture is a challenge, but a small valley is fertile and does produce useful crops with irrigation. We paused for a while to see the small patches of garden, some quite lush and others out of season. We returned to the Amsterdam about 11:30, swinging past Mindelos local beach, about a 3/4 mile walk from the ship.

I took the shuttle back to town and explored a bit more, also trying the wifi at the same place as this morning and finding the pace glacial. I walked back to the ship, pausing for coffee at a café but making a lunch of it. My final return to the Amsterdam was about 2:30.

A local group, Cape Verde Corda, performed in the Queens Lounge at 3:30, 6 men with various stringed instruments and one female singer. A couple of the guys did some background vocals but they mostly just played their instruments.

The afternoon was very windy. At 4:30 Captain Mercer announced preparations for departure were about complete and we would sail soon. I went up to deck 6 forward for sailaway and by 4:45 we were singled up. I figured we wouldnt stay that way for long with the winds we were facing, and we started backing up within about 2-3 minutes. Once away from the pier, the wind swivelled the stern around and we were making our way out of the harbor.

I watched our departure a longer than I would usually since I had a 6:30 reservation at the Pinnacle Grill. This was my first ever Pinnacle dinner, and the steak was excellent. The evening entertainment was the movie Grudge Match and I passed on it. We do gain an hour tonight as we start our main westward leg. We are actually a little bit North of Barbados and are sailing nearly due West.

As tonights parting shot, I find Cape Verde a bit puzzling. My
first time here (sort of) was in 2005 on my first visit to South Africa. I was on a 19-hour flight from Atlanta to Johannesburg and stopped at Sal Island to refuel. Our guides all referred to Sal Island as Cape Verdes prime tourist destination but I dont think people were even allowed to leave the plane. Those horrible flights were a big part of the reason I ended up on the Amsterdam to conclude this experience. It just seems really strange that there seemed to be neither interest in or opportunity to leave the flight at a tourist destination.


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