Grand Africa, voyage, day 62, Paria Cape Verde

10 December 2022, Praia, Sao Tiago, Cape Verde

I was up a few minutes early because the ship sounded like it was docking.  We were docked about 7am at Praia on Sao Tiago/Santiago Island, Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa.  And we were cleared for passengers to go ashore at 7:30am.

Up at the Lido buffet I photographed the breakfast dry cereal and beverage choices.  Outside on the aft deck I photographed the port area.  It looks like a beautiful island.  (Rainy season ended in October.)
My good breakfast was an Egg Benedict with sausage, pineapple, orange juice, & coffee.

Today’s Holland America tour met at 8am in the World Stage downstairs.  We were quickly called to get blue #13 stickers and to leave the ship.  Took a couple photos on the dock and found bus #13.  No air conditioning, but open windows for fresh air.  Only 15 passengers in the small bus.  Tour Guide Jesse and Driver Manle.

“Praia & Cidade Velha, 4 hours, $54.95.  Take this fantastic chance to learn about the history of Cape Verde in general and Santiago Island and to immerse yourself in the island and its traditions.  At Cidade da Praia, you will visit the Praca Alexandre Albuquerque – an iconic gathering spot for the people of Santiago.
Step inside the Se Cathedral Nossa Senhora de Graca and view the Palace of the President and viewpoint of the Statue of Diogo Gomez, who discovered the Cape Verde Islands in 1460.  Still in Cidade Praia, you will also visit the colorful vegetable market.”

Jesse led our group along an historic colonial street (Rua Banana) lined with traditional stone houses.  Pirates had terrorized this city right here many years ago.
Jesse gave us 20 minutes to explore the old Mercado Municipal.  I went upstairs in the market, hoping to find flowers for my room or souvenirs.  No luck.  Lots and lots of impressive fruits and vegetables.
Downstairs in the center was a snack bar and people eating at tables.  More fruits and vegetables filled the outer areas.  One stall sold strings of nuts? and of chorizo?
Outside, Jesse suggested shopping for shirts inside a store.  Never found what I wanted but settled on one nice one.

We continued down the street to the square and the beautiful Cathedral.  There were Portuguese mosaic black & white sidewalks.  I photographed unusual flowers in the square.  The statue of Alexandre Albuquerque was impressive.

Jesse shared some politics outside the Presidential Palace.  After the Portuguese colonization and hard times, there were years of Communism.  In 1991 our President Clinton said that the U. S. would stop sending money unless they became a democracy.  Although an elected president now governs, financial help from China helped renovate the former residence of the Portuguese governor.  Times are better now with the current President.
We were told that we could photograph anything, except for the U. S. Embassy.
We walked to the water viewpoint and the tall statue / Diogo Gomez Monument.
Beautiful area.  We continued walking to the old barracks, Quartel Jaime Mota with cannons in front.  
It was hard for me to keep up with the group, but I had to photograph the mural on the cultural center dedicated to the revolutionary leader Amilcar Cabral.
Our small bus was waiting for us across the street from the Post Office, and near the large cross Cruz do Papa.

“Next continue to Cidade /Velha  (the Old Town 17 miles away) — a UNESCO World Heritage Site for being the first European settlement in the tropics. Here you will visit the Fortress of San Felipe, built by orders of Felipe I, King of Portugal, and Spain.  In the main square you will have time to purchase a refreshment (your expense) and to shop.”

The stone Fortress was impressive, high above Rivera Grande, the magnificent Great Valley with underground water for raising good crops.  Unfortunately, the fort did not protect the Old Town from the French pirate who destroyed it.  The capital was then moved to Praia.  Jesse said that the bumpy cobblestone road was the oldest road in Africa.

Visiting the Old Town Cidade Velha was better than I had hoped for.  We walked the narrow old cobblestone streets.  Ancient colonial homes lined the streets.  Three tables of souvenirs were waiting for us along the way.  We climbed steps up to Igresja de Nossa Senhora do Rosario, the oldest colonial church in the world.  Traditional Portuguese blue tiles were inside the simple church.  Buried outside the church were the priests who had fathered babies in the community.  Those children were moved to other islands.
We descended steep steps to walk the streets where some ruins and buildings date from the 1460’s when the archipelago was explored and colonized. Saw a couple of hens with baby chicks along the way.  We arrived at the central square and a tall Market Cross.  Ancient history here.  We had thirty minutes to buy refreshments or shop at the tables of souvenirs.  I found a few treasures to buy.  And I walked to the water viewpoint to see the picturesque boats.  This was another day of sweaty fingertips not opening the iPhone without using the password numbers.

Our tour was finished.   It was a picturesque drive back to the port.  There were lots of (not acacia) trees from Brazil that produce food for the goats.  I did see a couple of handsome black goats with horns. We drove by the red buildings of the university built by China.  Some debts were paid off by China, so the Cape Verde Islands now have obligations.
Retirees from Europe are now settling here.  We wish them all the best.

Our bus returned us to the ship at 12:30pm.  Thanked Jesse and our good driver.
Hot and tired, my lunch was three scoops of ice cream and two glasses of lemonade.
I spent my afternoon reflecting on this great tour and watching our church’s service from last Sunday online on my iPad.  Loved hearing Stacie sing Christmas hymns.

By this time it was time for dinner.  Jan and David also enjoyed a great tour today, covering most of the island.  My dinner was the BBQ Chicken Spring Roll, Stir Fry Shrimp, Fudge Sundae, the Beringer’s Zinfandel Rose, and decaf coffee.

“On World Stage:  Dance Fever.  The Zaandam Singers & Dancers return with dance hits from yesterday to today.”  Great show.  Amazing dancing and singing.
I stopped by the Front Desk to get a map and information for tomorrow’s port.  I am glad that this has sort of resumed.

Two chocolates, etc. were waiting in my room.
Angel Tears Moscato wine blend from South Africa tasted so good in the evening.

Quote of the Day: “Travel is not reward for working, it’s education for living.”  Unknown

Photo Gallery, by Barbara Cummings

Leaving the harbor

About this port

Praia (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈpɾajɐ]Portuguese for “beach”) is the capital and largest city of Cape Verde.[1] Located on the southern coast of Santiago island, within the Sotavento Islands group, the city is the seat of the Praia Municipality. Praia is the economic, political, and cultural center of Cape Verde.

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