Praia, Cabo Verde 2022
December 10 found us docked across the bay from Praia, the capital of Cabo Verde (Cape Verde Islands) since 1770. It was founded by Portuguese settlers in 1615 at the location of an earlier settlement destroyed by Sir Frances Drake in 1585. We visited here in 2018 when we walked through the city and took a bus tour around this mostly dry and barren island. You can see that here:
Since we had toured the island before and had seen much of this small city of around 160,000 (about a third of the population of Cabo Verde), we decided just to take the shuttle into town and wander around on our own with some of our tablemates. We saw much we had seen before, had a beer and a bite to eat, and found the national library (our only new objective).
The Avenida 5 De Julho (date of independence in 1975) is a pedestrian street lined with trees on both sides that have been pruned to form a sort of canopy over the street. When we were here last in 2018 this was just getting started and none extended over the street but there has been notable progress since then and the street is now completely covered. It looks very nice and provides important shade to walkers. On this street we visited the Municipal Market, a covered building full of stalls on two floors. It was early so the market was not yet crowded.
We walked out the back of the market and along a small street to reach a road that ran along the edge of a cliff with an extensive view across a valley containing another part of the city. We walked to the right and passed a wall with some interesting graffiti.
Mary had located the national library on a map, but it turned out to be in the valley, a long walk down old stone steps that had been brightly painted in rainbow colors. So we walked back across the town and walked down these stairs. Robert, Mary and I walked all the way down to the library while the others waited on the stairs about half way to the top. The library turned out to be closed (hopefully not permanently), so we weren’t able to see the inside.
Having trudged back to the top we explored for a while. The Palace of the Presidency of the Republic was built in 1894 as the residence of the Portuguese governor. After independence in 1975 it became the presidential palace. It is a fairly stolid looking building though not unattractive and has an excellent garden to one side (the guard made me stop taking pictures after I got this one).
We stopped by the large 1956 monument to Diogo Gomes, one of the men who discovered this island in 1460. It stands near a corner of the plateau that houses the center of the city and from the walls here we could see in two directions. To the left we could see Zaandam docked across the bay. To the right we looked over the beach of Gamboa and an island to the left not too far from shore called Santa Maria Island. This island was the first stop on Charles Darwin’s 1832 voyage on the Beagle, and where he made his first geological observations. It is now connected to the shore by a bridge about the length of a US football field. In the distance on a jetty you can see between the island and the shore is the Farol de Dona Maria Pio, a lighthouse built in 1881 on the southernmost tip of the island. It was named after the Portuguese queen at that time. Its tower is octagonal and is about 60 feet tall.
The large green square at the center of the city is called Praca Alexandre Albuguerque, named after a Portuguese governor of Cabo Verde. Along its side is the Pro-catedral Nossa Senhora d Graca (Pro-Cathedral of Our Lady of Grace). It opened in 1902 and is the seat of the Catholic Diocese of the island that dates back to 1533. Facing the square on another side is the Quartel Jaime Mota, which opened in 1826 as a military barracks. The current building dates back to 1872 and has been modified since. Jaime Mota was a Cape Verdean revolutionary killed by the Portuguese before independence, after which this building was named for him. It is unclear to us whether today it is used by the military or the police.
It was a hot day and we had done a lot of walking so we stopped at a place called Esplanada Morabeza in the square for a beer and a bite to eat. It had a shaded outdoor patio to relax on. We had a Strela beer and also ordered hamburgers. The beer was cold and good but the hamburgers were all but inedible. People who know Rick will realize how unusual it is for him to leave most of a hamburger on the plate, so you know it wasn’t good.
On our way back to the shuttle stop we passed the Supremo Tribunal de Justica (Supreme Court of Justice of Cabo Verde). It was established after independence in 1975 and has changed names since then but is till the highest court in Cabo Verde.
Back on the ship at dinner we had a modest celebration of a significant event. Three quarters of a century ago, on this date, Rick was born. Wow, three quarters of a century! Who could imagine that someone who looks so young could be so old? As usual on birthdays the restaurant staff brought us a small birthday cake and sang the Indonesian birthday song. A good time was had by all.