Cabo Verde, the Story

Capo Verde - Posted On

Mindelo, Sao Vicente Island, Cabo Verde

Quickly, I feel it’s time to flee that damn sailboat Nicia2 where everything is under the control of the captain’ bad mood.

Meeting Sebastian, sailboat hitchhiker going as well to Brazil, I get back also to Luis and Charlotte met in Canary Islands, boat hitchhikers too. We quickly put our traveller destiny together to get out from the Rally´ senior aged atmosphere.

Moral destroyed from the 3 horrible days on Nicia2. I can’t even draw any smile for a good while! Surprising how others’ influence can be painful sometime, especially in the promiscuity of a boat. I regret great empty spaces having wind for only friend!

We get to know very soon the blessed Estanperotte, local rhum made from sugar and honey. 30 escudos (0.30Euro) a glass. Often coming with local musicians and Luis with it saxophone. Wonderful!

Monte Verde mission, top of the island, 750m, the 4 young backpackers go through the little streets of Mindelo, passing through surprised taximen who may see for the first time of their lives tourists going BY FEET!!! And heavily loaded even! Soon enough we get to a healthier environment, the road. Walking is great, something different than biking. We really can go everywhere. I feel it like a different freedom physically harder than biking, but with the nice feeling of having the ability to go anywhere I want.

We find a place for the night, a ruined little house close to the top, probably a harvester shelter, who knows? Foggy night, the wind blows too strong for any thoughts of a flight the coming morning. This decides me to go to the mountain island in front of us : Santa Antao.

On the map, it’s really looking attractive: relieves everywhere, ancient volcanoes made up this island quite recently apparently and erosion still haven’t made it all crushed down. Everything seems sharp and high, highest summit goes up to 1950m. Seb, Charlotte and I are now up to get there backpacking, trekking with our simple backpacks, (small Ozone wing included in it of course) for the 7 next days.

25th November, top Pico da Cruz, 1550m, a far island seems to float around high above the horizon line. It looks like Neverland, really, Peter Pan’s world, a dreamed universe coming to reality in this unreal morning light. Our entire island is now clear viewed at our feet. Trade winds give us a break, it’s now time for flying. I get back to that flying kid Peter, who gave me the strong willing to fly, in any way, one day in my life. This day have come.

Take off: A simple dirt road above a grassed steep hill, just enough to run a few steps. Further down, steep cultivated fields, it’s OK I won’t touch them.

Three kids from the near village watching, really wondering what will happen, what the hell I am now doing with all those lines and this big canopy behind me. Small nice little blow coming front. Mmmmh I like that! Quite unsecured though, I didn’t take my reserve here (weight killing), I so tripled my pre-flight, just thinking that the nearest serious hospital might be quite far from here. No negotiations anymore, it’s now the right moment. Nearly no breeze, but with the slightest movement the wing goes high in the sky, so white and beautiful. Two, three steps forward and I am now in the air just still going forward with no effort, gliding smoothly in the sky, above the kids down there, astonished by that strange human bird going down their steep hill with no efforts. Quickly, I leave the little volcano crater on my right hand side, having a quick glimpse gliding above, it’s dreamlike.

Smooth thermal, one then two turns finally don’t give me much altitude, I leave it to the great birds flying with me, coming to see what’s going on around here. Alone, completely alone in the morning sky, I think now about safety and wisely I go to visit the sharp volcano mountain hills. Imagine! Flying alone above a Cabo Verde island, that’s pretty much what’s deepest into this wild trip. A good part of the archipelago is now visible so far on the clear sea, the further island still floating in the sky, just like me. I am looking for Tinker Bell, but she might be busy by now!

A smoke on the coast shows me how both sea breeze and the trade wind have now grown up. It’s time to get back to the rocky ground a few hundreds meters down under. I have so many choice for landing. No trees, flat areas seem everywhere, just one road going back up to the top. It’s now too late to soar on the big crater on my left hand side. I barely pass a deep caldera which I see quite late. Landing on the wrong side would have given me many hours of walk just to pass around. Well I am now on the good side to get back to the road. How magical tissue and human intelligence are now connected!

Here is the road, and just there, an electric cable. Caution! There’s just one, come on, that would really be a shame. I don’t want to go into it. That landing ground is finally not that flat and rocks quite big and not seeming the most comfortable mattress I ever saw... Sea breeze is now out, it’s going faster. I finally touch the ground, the wing getting the wise idea to suddenly twisted itself into the rocks. Woo! What a nice wild flight! Alone into the deep blue, of the sky and the sea.

7 days of walk, 7 days backpacking, 7 days to face ourselves in the effort, on our everlasting steps and daily rice rhythm: milky rice the morning, 700m going up, rice with nothing at midday, 5 hours of walking down and rice with fish and veggies at night, what a diversity! My dreams are made of rice, our talk are about rice, it’s the ricy walk!

From Pico da Cruz we walk down to Paül, a vast green area made by hot and humid climate on that specific part of the island. Wandering around our beautiful playground made of high peaks and deep valleys, we juggle with different track curves, pass, rivers and nice black sand beaches. From the west side of the island, at once we get to the north to slowly follow high and sharps cliffs right above the sea. Amazing!

From 1810m high one day we suddenly go down at 650m just to have the unlimited pleasure to go back up to the same level on the other side the next day.

Left alone in this trekker paradise, off the crowded tourists ‘tracks, we fall in love with this little friendly dirt road picturing our life going on.

The top of the island, Tope de Coroa, 1979m is too far from our way. We leave it to rather have the pleasure to just go forward, only thinking about the next village, the next pass.

Weather conditions first, logistic reasons then, decide me not to fly again here. The wing is deep in the backpack, so small and so light, nearly forgotten. A good 3kg pillow, that’s it. Everyone have it luxury, mine is to sleep comfortably here! But even with one single flight in 7 days, it was for me the good opportunity to validate the `walk and fly´ concept, next to the `bike and fly´ previous one.

Cabo Verde people are excessively nice, never buzzing around because of our occidental look, just smiling to our timid `Bom Dia´. We really like it here!

Getting back to Sao Vicente, we get ready for the transatlantic crossing, with the stress of our `boss´ from the sailboat Selya. Luis, 2nd crew, and I, are going to cross on this catamaran from the Seychelles, owned by a Swiss couple, living in Corsica, pretty twisted international story, isn’t it?

Many things to do on board, too many. We need 4 full days to get ready. Four days while we meet Manu, 21 years old solitary captain, getting ready for it own Great Crossing to Brazil on it little boat La Chimere. The Epic Blow be with you, my friend!