Monday, March 3, 2014

A (Short) Tale of Two Cities

2014 02 27
Jolly Harbour, Antigua

One, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, was the best of places:

Santa Cruz de Tenerife viewed from the Wifi deck of the marina

The other, Mindelo, in the Cape Verdes, was the worst of places:

Just a Regular Day in Mindelo.  A blanket of  Saharan sand, camel dung,
dengue fever virus particles and whatever other obscenities
Africa sees fit to spew into the atmosphere obscures a mountain only half a mile away
Leaving Mindelo was a pleasure, the first time we had experienced such emotions in Europe or Africa.  Our departure, as Dickens suggested was a far far better thing we did than we had done before.


Santa Cruz has a local waterfront Opera House served by its own local opera company.

Mindelo offers this on its waterfront, an eagle I think poised to take flight from a pile of ... well mud is the charitable thought:

It has long been our view that the best part of our tour of the Mediterranean has been the Atlantic Islands: the Azores, Madeira, the Canaries.  Arriving at the safe refuge of the Canarian island of Graciosa in strong winds and just ahead of a three day blow we quiMckly came to appreciate the benefits, not only of the islands but of the people who inhabit them.  

Parts of the island chain are massively touristic, several towns consist solely of overbuilt Russian quality mass housing for the Euro mass consumer market.  You just avoid those places.  

We chose Santa Cruz de Tenerife, capital city of this island protectorate, on the recommendation of friends Stephen and Nancy on Fairwyn.  What a joy it was.  Clean air, beautiful mountains, half a dozen well stocked chandlers, urbane lifestyle.

This city is one we will revisit.  A winter apartment in Santa Cruz would be a joy.

Connie Accessing Email on the Wifi Deck

Another Sunny Day in Santa Cruz
Mindelo offers much less.  One of the claims to tourist fame offered by the Cape Verdean government is that six islands in the island chain are uninhabited.  The government suggests this makes them perfect places to enjoy some quiet sailing.  My view is that the six islands are uninhabited because they are uninhabitable.  

Hiking is big on the list of people who enjoy their stay in Cape Verdes.  CIty dwellers and consumers of culture will be less favourably affected.  That one or two islands might be great refuges for the lulu lemoned among us is not a big selling point in the book of moi.

Here the wind blows at 35 knots all the time, the air is nearly unbreathable on most daysfilled as it is with saharan dust and byproducts flung into the atmosphere by Africa and carried hundreds of kilometres out to sea.  The marina has a hellish surge and broken dock lines are the norm.  There is a grocery store but prices are not terribly good and there is no cafe culture whatsoever.

Cape Verdes has no extradition treaty with the USA and this accounts for some of its popularity.  I figure the US government takes the view that any white collar criminal who holes up in CV has exiled himself to near prison like conditions so why punish the poor bugger any more.  

The nicest bit of Mindelo were the colourful fishing boats which lined the shore:

The waterfront grocer

The Marina at Mindelo

The Marina Bar at Mindelo

Connie Gives a Canadian Flag to the Marina Bar for Display

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