D1602 – Lost in Santiago

Following our ‘scenic’ sail past of the volcanic island of Fogo in the dark (described in my previous post D1602 – No go to Fogo), we sailed on to the largest island in Cabo Verde, Santiago. Sailing along the south-east coast of the island we passed Cidade Velha, the original capital of the Island, where I would visit that afternoon on my shore tour:


Before long we were sailing into the familiar port of Praia, the current capital of both Santiago and the whole Cabo Verde Islands. I enjoyed a half day visit to Praia on my way sailing south to South America on my last cruise, documented in my post L1602 – Praia engagement.


Once again the strong breeze seemed to affect our docking – having turned around in the harbour we were initially parallel to the dock wall, but as the ship tried to approach the wall using the bow and stern thrusters the bow swung out until we were around 45 degrees to the wall. We crabbed in very slowly, and closer to the shelter of the dock the bow eventually swung back and fortunately we docked successfully. During this manoeuvring I noticed the patterns the thrusters were creating on the surface of the water in the sunlight:


My friend Barbara was keen to do a shore tour in Praia, as she had failed to do so on two previous attempts – one time (on a cruise I wasn’t on) the sea was too rough to dock, and the other was last year’s cruise when we had the engine fire and the cruise was aborted. I therefore joined her on the one shore tour she thought she could manage. The tour did not leave until 1pm, so we enjoyed sitting on deck in the warm sunshine during the morning.

The tour in Praia was in small 18 seater coaches, rather more swish than the bus-like coaches in the other island Mindelo. We were initially driven to the Plateau, the historic centre of town that I toured on my previous visit, for a much shorter walking tour. Once again I saw the old fort and the Governor’s Palace, and found some other things to photograph too:


We were then driven to the lower part of town to see the temporary vegetable market (the usual one is being rebuilt) and a small antiquities museum:


The sign above this small cannon amused me, something was in the wrong place!


We then returned to the coach for the 20 minute drive out to Cidade Velha, which I had seen from the ship earlier. This was the original capital, but it was attacked, captured and razed to the ground by Sir Francis Drake in 1585. Following this attack Fort Real de São Filipe was built on the hill overlooking the town, it was completed in 1590.

We first visited the fort, before continuing down to the town below. Parts of the fort were restored in the 20th century. The domed structure is an adobe cistern:


From the fort there were good views down to the dry river valley and to the town below:


Once down in the town, we left the coach to walk to see a very old church and the original street of the town and of the island. Near the church there was a group of young children on a school trip resting in the shade:


Outside the church I paused to fit a fresh battery in my camera, but unbeknown to me at the time, disaster stuck as I must have dislodged the memory card. I ‘took’ photographs inside and outside the church, in Banana Street (named for it’s curved shape), and down on the beach, not realising that nothing was being saved. It was only when I tried to record a movie of some local drummers and dancers that a proper error message was displayed on my camera which I had to press a button to clear. As someone involved in human interface design in my past career I was not impressed that this message was not also displayed after trying to take a still photograph, but I now know to be far more careful when changing the battery. It was a huge shame this happened at the best part of the tour, but I guess that is that well known law at work. I am sure I will be back on the island one day and can then have another try at photographing the town, the ‘shot’ I’m regretting missing most is of a few of the children peeping in the open church door to see what we were doing inside – that sort of shot is a one off.

Here are the local drummers and dancers that I tried to film when I noticed the problem:


On the way back to our ship we took a different route through Praia, passing brightly coloured buildings and this small beach:


Returning to the ship I was left so frustrated that I had lost so many pictures of the best part of Santiago that we had seen that afternoon. A big lesson learned as we set sail for two days at sea onward to the next archipelago.


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