Our stay in Sal was quite pleasant.  Especially because we met a Dutch couple, Floortje and Jelle, who are sailing around the world in the next four years.  They are friendly, funny and best of all, younger than most of the other boaters we meet.  We are usually by far the youngest boat crew around, with the majority of our fellow boaters being retired.  We got to talking with them and soon were having beers in the cockpit of Tocayo.  Their boat, Libis, is beautiful and well-built, but a tad cozy to entertain in.  We were also having problems with the outboard motor for our dinghy.  So, we were delighted to have them bring some beers over to the previously dry boat.  (We’ve decided that the dry rule doesn’t apply while we’re in port.)

They have no set plans for further on, but they started telling us of their plans for the Atlantic crossing.  They are going to Suriname, since that is one of the only places in the world outside of Holland that one can go and still speak Dutch.  Furthermore, the course from Cape Verde to Suriname puts one on a better point of sail (hopefully).  Without running so far downwind, the boat is more stable and less likely to jibe.  Whether going that far South will actually result in an angle to the wind that is more comfortable will still depend on the winds themselves. The distance from Cape Verde to Suriname is also some 200 miles less than to Barbados.

With all these reasons and the gravy on top of seeing two new countries (which we would probably never go to otherwise), we have decided that we will also head for Suriname.  I’m excited for the shortened crossing, getting to see the rainforest and river, the culinary delights of Suriname’s cultural melange and the supposedly hyperpygian stature of the women there.  Plus, heading down there doesn’t just add two more countries to the list of places that Tocayo has taken us to, it adds a whole new continent!

On the other hand, I wish it didn’t necessairly add so much time on to the rest of the trip.  After we hit land in Suriname, we will have to work our way up from far farther South.  (Just 5 degrees from the equator!)  That means I won’t be back in the U.S. until later and it possibly disrupts meeting up with my peeps in the Caribbean.  Of course, only time (and tides and wind and currents) will tell where we end up and when.

So, that is the news on the course correction.  As for the rest of time here in Cape Verde, it has been very pleasant.  We hopped over to Sao Nicalau where we hiked down the amazing central valley of the island.  At the end of the hike we came into Ribeira Brava, the island’s capital, where we saw a religious procession in honor of the saint himself.  Old St. Nick himself.  Oddly enough, in Holland,  St. Nick (and his band of 6-8 “Black Petes”) competes in popularity with Santa Claus.  Our new Dutch friend was telling me all about it as I was trying to tell her about David Sedaris’ hilarious (possibly not entirely accurate) story of their tradition.

We spent the night at anchor on Sao Nicalau and then set off for the large island of Sao Vicente.  We had a terrific bout of wind with us the whole way and some pretty intense sailing for a day trip.  We got doused by waves that crashed just so against the gunwales more than once.

Coming into Sao Vicente was a treat even after the usual marina VHF confusion.  We were relieved that there actually is a marina here, for one.  It’s the product of the inspiration and dedication of a German named Kai who has lived out here for over 15 years.  It’s very nicely done, too.  The setting, in Mindelo’s huge circular bay is tremendous in itself.  Each evening we watch the sun go down behind the mountains across the watery expanse.

Mindelo is a cool city.  The second largest town in Cape Verde has a relaxed atmosphere, but enough commerce and commotion to remind you that it has reached a critical mass.  We found a cool little cafe/bar that has become our usual haunt fro morning coffees and late night beers.   On the recommendation of a local we went to Achote, where our grilled fish was accompanied by live music.

The streets here are paved in cobblestones and many former colonial buildings still exist, in somewhat good repair.  There are shops here selling an amazing array of pricey merchandise, from flat screen TVs to scooters.  It’s very easy to forget you’re in Africa when you see it all.  The police have (nice) uniforms, there’s no trash in the streets, and the people are well-dressed in European style.  Everyone is quite friendly and hearing the sounds of Portuguese being spoken among them is enchanting.  My Spanish gets me by as long as I speak slowly (and they do too!).  Their money, the (other?) escudo,  features a number of pictures of sailboats on it because of their long connection to the sea.   So, we feel right at home in this place.

We’ve been hanging out with the Dutch folks and plan on hiking with them tomorrow around San Antao, the greenest of the islands.   It’s only a short sail away, but we’ll be taking the ferry over.   It’s possible to do too much sailing, you know.

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