In englishEesti keeles

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Praia - European with African heart

Check-in and dinner at the restaurant were on the agenda for the first day of arrival to Praia. Check-in went very smoothly, thanks to the boys at the harbor who are very eager to ‘help’ tourists. But the service was nice, and there is no reason to complain. The first port suited Amphibear, because a swimming beach is usually sufficient. The fish ordered for dinner was also perfectly seasoned and affordable. 

And early to bed – we had been sailing for 24h or more to escape the winds.
The next day was Saturday so I took my shopping list and a taxi and started out for the first shop selling parts. A shock – the shop was the size of the smallest moto shop in Estonia. From the list of items necessary for me zero units were sold there. I got one object from the shop next-door. There, an older gentleman took the lead. By simply helping a stranger, he took me from one shop to another and one and a half hours later I had found some of the least necessary items in my list. There were none of the important items and the weekend was arriving. 

Diverse Praia with beautiful and run-down buildings. The roads are mostly pretty good.

As is well known, Estonians spend the weekend working. On Sunday morning as I was walking towards the amphibious vehicle (Amphibear was anchored under the window of the water police office) a police officer ask to specify a couple of things. But my passport was at the hotel and auto documents out on the bay in the amphibious vehicle and I was wearing shorts so I could not swim to the auto. It turned out that the port captain wanted to check the papers. We were going to take a boat and bring the papers from my boat. I went back to the hotel and put on some fancier clothes for the port captain. In the meantime, airplane pilot Arnaldo Barreto stepped through the police office door; he helped to translate the papers and what the police requested. Local TV had done some weird story on crime, which ended with a question if anyone knows what is the odd means of transport in the bay. It was natural for them to want to look over the papers. Five hours later we had reached the boat, checked the papers, visited the television station and everything was OK. I have heard stories here that not everyone gets off that easily and that there is an awful lot of bureaucracy. But in comparison to some other countries the bureaucratic procedures here are understandable and authorities very helpful. 

However, the main thing is that I made a great friend, Arnaldo, who has been helping me now every day. And that help is very needed. Even with his help, it takes half a day to find a wrench no 56, and the second half of the day to find a pipe to extend the wrench. No wonder, Praia is actually a town with 100 000 inhabitants and it is nearly impossible to run a good business here with a wide selection of products. So all the special things which, unfortunately, my amphibious vehicle is mostly made of, are very rare. 

 Arnaldo Barreto
Arnaldo is always present when help is needed. Arnaldo with his daughter, who studies languages. She said "languages are the key to the future" and I agree. You can do business and have fun only if you know languages.

Helpfulness and friendliness are very common here. The authority among local fishermen, Louis, has organized a boat watch. As already said, my irreplaceable assistant Arnaldo took me around town to find the necessary equipment. The five clerks of the local tech store Sociarpa know to give directions and advice on good products and services, and they all want to take a picture with me. I have already taken pictures with all of Arnaldo's girlfriends. And how many hotels there are that agree to safely store 48 canisters from the chemical factory brought in by their client so he could soon cross the Atlantic? Hotel Perola is ready for all this and, in addition, they advise me every day on where to get the necessary equipment (e.g. canisters, wrenches, chain oil, etc). And if Amphibear is taken out of the water there are already five old friends who help to keep order, translate conversations and fix me up with anything necessary from a flood lamp to aluminium welding. To my surprise, many here speak Russian. One can also get by with English as long as one does not need to discuss different types of wrenches. Portuguese or French are a lot more helpful, of course. Also, I met two Estonians. Estonian sailor Leho Okas passing through here and a local schoolboy who speaks Estonian came by to see the amphibious vehicle.

The ‘authoritative’ Louis releases Amphibear from the additional ropes tied by the fishermen to protect it from the tide at night.

If you mix Africa with Europe then in a bad case scenario you will get ridiculously high prices, services that do not correspond with the price lists, dirty streets and a bunch of good-for-nothings idling around. However, Cape Verde shows that a contrary situation is also possible. Here you will get generous and helpful people, reasonably priced (although a bit expensive) hotels, reasonable fixed prices and a working infrastructure. Even visiting the market does not end in a cultural shock but is a rather calm exotic experience. It is not recommended to walk around in the dark, but a taxi in the town usually costs about 2 Euros so there is no need for walking anyway.

The entrance of the flea market sure was crowded.

Those looking for exotica and Africa can find all that here too. If you are afraid to visit the real Africa then Cape Verde is a good place to visit. The climate here is superb. The water and air temperature is 26 degrees Celsius every day, sunshine is in moderation and people are nice and helpful. What more can you ask for?

The white night festival celebrating the beginning of the Christmas season. Seven stages showing everything from children's plays to rock shows. Of course, also a small carnival.

Not exactly Rio but the drumbeats are nevertheless catchy.

Streets in the downtown are closed to traffic. The friendly crowd dressed mostly in white has gathered by the stages. In the background is the dance stage (a pause in the programme at the moment).

And at the end of the festival day Arnaldo had a surprise for me. His wife had prepared a delicious dinner. The colours were so beautiful that I asked for permission to take pictures

About Amphibear preparations in next post.

Translated by Luisa Translation Agency

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