Local Heart, Global Soul

September 10, 2011

Now THERE are Bottles You Wouldn’t Want to try and Finish in One Go!

Filed under: CAPE VERDE,LIFE,PHOTOGRAPHY,Travel — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This is the  last post in my 2007 retro tour of the island of Sal in Cape Verde.

We would love to go back one day, but we share the problem of all but a seriously wealthy few: our travel list of places we want to see is too long and our travel savings pot too small, so  let’s see what the future brings on that score.

There are some shops that you pass when you travel and they grab your attention immediately with the presence of something out of the ordinary: this shop in Santa Maria was one of those.

Firstly, I had  heard of the word “grog” but in my due to my alcoholic ignorance, I assumed it was somehow either a made-up name for use in pirate stories and movies or a nickname for some other well known drink, say … gin or whisky.

I was partly correct,  the term “grog” is used in both New Zealand and Australia as a description of any strong alcohol, but  more accurately grog has it’s roots as a mixture of beer and rum  (Thank-you Wiki:    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grog)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I have to confess to being rather taken aback when we passed the open doorway of this small shop and saw on the counter close by, four  seriously large bottles of local Grog.

I estimate that each would  easily hold fifteen litres each (4 gallons) and it appears that it’s possible to buy grog from these bottles not only by a smaller bottle amount but also by the individual tipple.

The shop was tiny, but there were a selection of bottles on shelves and most appeared to be local grog brews, and most of the shop stock was made somewhere in one of the various Cape Verde islands.

We were surprised to see a few bottles of Cape Verdian wine as well as grog, so we bought one bottle of each to pack into our suitcases and take back to the Netherlands to sample at leisure.

The wine we enjoyed a few months later, it was definitely drinkable but nothing outstanding.

Himself  was the sole member of our household who partook of the grog, but he did share with some of our  friends who like that kind of thing and to all accounts it wasn’t bad at all!

Between them it certainly it didn’t take many weeks for the level of the bottle to drop well below the halfway point.

Cape Verde is a fabulous place, and I’d totally recomend it as a travel destination.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 9, 2011

Coffee ….Make it a Double?

Filed under: CAPE VERDE,FOOD,LIFE,Travel — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I’m still taking you on a retro tour of our 2007 visit to the Island of Sal in Cape Verde.
On the less dry islands of Cape Verde they grow a limited amount (but excellent) coffee  and the extremes in sizes of the vessels they arrived in had me laughing…

…admittedly the strength of these two cups differed enormously!

Himself’s after dinner coffee…. that IS a demi-tasse cup…. so the cup itself was as big as a shot glass and it was less than half full!

…there was even a  dinky little plate that came with it…

Himself, like most Dutch, drinks his coffee far stronger than is usual in many countries outside Europe , and after seeing the size of the cup it was no surprise that this little coffee (called a “bica“) was mega-strong indeed. It compared well to they way the Greek’s drink their coffee, which Himself also likes.

However, if you are from outside Europe then there’s a high chance that this coffee would come as a bit of a shock.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

..Then compare this to Kiwi Best-Friend’s  morning brews…  first coffee I’ve ever seen served in beer mugs ! (they call this one a “galã“)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 7, 2011

Old Harbour at Santa Maria…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Since Cape Verde is situated off the West Coast of Africa,  off the coast of Senegal, The Gambia and in the region of Mauritania, Guinea-Bisseau, Guinea and Sierra Leone,  sadly the old harbour at Santa Maria was in centuries past used as a stopping and transfer point during  the slave trade.

Fortunately these days are long gone and it’s now only used  for fishing and swimming… but mostly only swimming at  low tide becuase at high tide the sea surges though the narrow gap and if you are in the water there’s a strong outward suction.

I’m a very rudimentary swimmer and I didn’t feel confident in the water when the tide was high so we didn’t let the kids in here anywhere around high tide, and since the hotel awimming pool was so close by and our kids loved sandcastle building as much as the water,  it wasn’t a problem to not swim here very often.

We saw very very few locals go into the water here but every so often some kids come to fish from the old harbour walls.

Most of  the harbour is in it’s simple, origonal state, but some repairs have been done over the decades.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 6, 2011

A Delicacy? Bravery or Insanity? …You Choose!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

During our 2007 trip to Sal in the Cape Verde Islands, we had a day where both kids were tired,  then 2 yr old Little Mr. was in dire need of his midday nap,  Himself  had a late breakfast, didn’t feel energetic and wasn’t  hungry.

Kiwi Best-Friend and I were both hungry and restless so opted for a walk down the beach to check out the menu in a place on the beach very close to the pier…

There was no sign to really give a name to the place, just tables and people sitting eating (duh, I wasn’t so savvy in those days to ask for details or a business card or details) so we just saw that it was a restaurant and ambled on in.

Kiwi Best-Friend  had a fit of bravery (or insanity) and saw an item written in  it’s portuguese creole name (no description) that had the English words after it: “ local delicacy, go on, try it !!!!!

Now, think hard about this… the five exclamation marks probably should have been a VERY LARGE red flag … and I only wish that I had had the camera on Kiwi Best-Friend’s face when this was bought out… the look of shock on her face was priceless!

and yes it probably was rude and insensitive of me to laugh that hard in a restaurant (but on that day I had no shame).

I’ll give full credit where it’s due…  Kiwi Best-Friend is far braver gal than I will ever be!
Sadly the name in creole didn’t help us decide at first if this was Animal or Vegetable … but later information revealed that these are:

“perceves” in Portuguese, “percebes” in Spanish, “gooseneck barnacles” in English and “Lepadomorpha” in Latin.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)


I suppose that makes these “animal” then.

Kiwi Best Friend looked rather desperate, a look that only intensified when I declined to help polish off these morsels. (actually I have  real reason to be weary, I’m allergic to shellfish and since I didn’t know if these might be classed as shellfish or not, I opted to stay on the safe and boring side of caution).

I had tuna and we shared some shrimps…

Yes, Kiwi Best Friend tried, and made a valiant effort to eat these, but after a while she declared them to be “really not her thing” and knowing that  Himself loves eating all Fruits de mer and that he would probably enjoy these, a decent portion of this got doggy-bagged up and taken back to the apartment for Himself to enjoy….

… which after an initial startled look when he unwrapped the package, he did, greatly!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 5, 2011

From One Uncomfortable Extreeme to Another…

Filed under: CAPE VERDE,LIFE,Places and Sights,Travel — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Continuing our retro tour of Sal, one of the Cape Verde Islands visited in 2007.

When we first went to the travel agent about going to Cape Verde, we were shown an aerial photos of a hotel built like a sandcastle… it’s situated right on the beach and looked amazing.
However bookings for  the rooms we wanted and on the dates we wanted were not possible and so we opted instead for a self catering appartment…(sadly, even now, neither of these hotels are on Google Earth)

Once in Santa Maria (Sal) we decided from curiosity to drive past the hotel we “would” have booked… and were quite shocked to find that they have MASSIVELY expanded from what we saw on the photo in the travel agent’s brouchure.

The reality of the place is that  it’s a heavily gated and guarded complex and that guests are issued with armbands to wear when they are picked up at the airport and entry is ONLY granted to people with armbands so we couldn’t even visit one of the restaurants for dinner.

Later, we met a Dutchman living and working in Santa Maria, and got chatting (he was struggling to learn the local Portuguese creole and sooo relieved to be able to relax and speak Dutch with someone for a change). He told us that there  are mass of duty free boutique shops and restaurants inside this hotel and that guests are “advised” not to venture out to eat at local restaurants in town becuase it’s “not safe”…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I however wandered around town with my Best Friend, and with Himself at night to a restaurant at various times and never once felt that our safety was in question.

Lets  just say that Himself  and I both felt that us ending up staying in alternative accomodation was a fortuatous stroke of good luck in the end… I can’t say that  we would have been comfortable here at all.

It was confirmed by an Englishman who owns one of the villas near ours  as a retirement home in our  complex,  it’s apparently well known that guests in what’s been dubbed the “Sandcastle” complex rarely visit other parts of the island which is a great pity because  contrast with life in some other parts of the island couldn’t have been more stark…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

When we hired the 4-wheel drive vehicle, we decided to try and get to Ponte Norte at the most northerly tip of Sal.  Although the car was 4 wheel drive, there is no real road on the north side of Espargos and the sand was fairly deep so Himself needed to keep a little speed up so that we wouldn’t get stuck…

On the edge of Espargos it was clear that the houses were rudimentry and that imcomes were low, but nothing prepared us for the shock of the shanty town that was situated just to the north of Espargos by the road we needed to take to get to Ponte Norte.

We didn’t wish to gape at the poverty we could see here, or embarrass anyone, so I lined the camera on the edge of the window and took a photograph as we moved swiftly past…

Of the various level of poverty we say, of course the shanty town example was the most extreme …

We never did get to Ponte Norte because the “road” that had started out as a visible track degenerated into a landscape of potholes, sand and boulders, not only were we bouncing around in the car like jumping beans, we also found the track harder and harder to follow. I didn’t get any photos of the road at this point becuase I’d put away the camera in it’s case to protect it from the extremes of the bumping up and down.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

At one point when the track was clearer we saw a  fork in the road, we took what we thought was the correct road but the rocky pitted way suddenly turned into deep sand.  Realising that we were in danger of heading into trouble, and that we were not at all prepared  for the desert conditions (fundamentals, like always travel with two vehicles, take sand-tracks) we managed to turn around before we got stuck and headed back to where we had seen the road fork.

After a while it was clear that we had completely missed the fork and were on the road back to Espargos.

By then,  three of the five of us were feeling car-sick from the steady bouncing around so we decided to call it quits. We worked out later that we got more than half way at least. The treesin my photos are the the only trees we saw, and they are close to Espargos.

Whilst we can afford a holiday and are ridiculously wealthy in comparison to what we see here, we always want to remind our kids that they are very lucky to have what they have and that  they should not take what they have for granted…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

No fancy playgrounds and lots of toys here…

For some kids, fishing each day is a simple necessity so that there is dinner on the table for the family… This big brother (not in the photo) approached Best Friend and I and asked if we could take a photo of  his bother in return for  small fee in Santa Maria and since I am in two minds about begging (it fosters dependence and reliance over independence)

This time I handed over some cash and took the photo to help them supplement their income.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 4, 2011

Service with a Snarl… Luckily we Find an Exception…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In yesterday’s post I described our journey to Espargo and back, but left out much of what we did whilst we were there.

We walked around many of the streets in the centre of town checked out the fruit and vegetable sellers, and the kids spotted a rudimentry playground, which had them dragging their feet everywhere else we went after we passed it and making lots of persistant and hopeful noises about wanting to go there and play.

Kiwi Best Friend and I hadn’t had breakfast and wished for brunch, Himself had one mega early breakfast and then an early lunch when the kids got up for breakfast so none of them were hungry thus  it was swiftly arranged that he would take the kids to the playground and we would go eat at a cafe situated on the side of the little square pictured in my previous post.

It’s very simply laid out,  our  view (and table)  to the left…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

… and to the right…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The girl in yellow could not have been more dis-interested in the customers… it was clear that she hated every moment of her work.

We didn’t get a smile out of her at all and she dumped our food on the table in a manner that we saw repeated in various other food establishments … service here is more “service with a snarl” then “service with a smile ”

…Luckily, the lady in pink WAS friendly, and after asking where we were from and discovering that we lived in the Netherlands, she enthusiastically told us about her relatives in Rotterdam. She was genuinely pleased that we’d come to Cape Verde and her cheerful disposition more than made up for Miss Surly Assistant.

the decoration on the walls consisted of…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Kiwi’s Best Friend ordered Beef … it was ok.. but considering the amount of fish eaten here, I was already suspecting that cooking beef wouldn’t be their speciality. (I was right, it was tough as old boots.)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I.. on the other hand, hit the jackpot with this little number of simple excellence…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

… not only did this dish entice us back to Espargos, ( Kiwi Best Friend wanted a plate of this all to herself and not just some spoonfuls of mine LOL) but I also immediately tried my hand at replicating it once we were home.

By the time we had finished lunch, Himself and the kids had returned from the playground, hot and begging to get back to the hotel for a swim.  And with that excellent idea,  and one ear-shattering, wind-blasted  minibus journey later, that’s exactly what we did.

September 3, 2011

Cape Verde… Espargos ..town

Filed under: CAPE VERDE,HISTORY,PHOTOGRAPHY,Places and Sights,Travel — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This is post in my photo journalistic tour of the island of Sal in the Cape Verde group that Family Kiwidutch and Kiwi Best Friend made in 2007.

One day we talk about going to Espargos, the main town, so walk to our hotel reception area, to  find a local taxi conveniently parked outside.

Himself does some token price negotiations  in broken Portuguese (Espargos from Santa Maria costs us Euro 6,–) and the driver was very pleased even with the “knocked down” price that was agreed so probably  we were still charged  “tourist price”.

Ah heck we are  not being miserly about supporting the local economy…   We hop in and head north to Sal’s bigger and only other large population centre.

Espargos is the biggest town on Sal and is situated not too far from the airport, pretty much in the centre of the island.  We learn that the name  Espargos means “asparagus” and  the town got it’s name from the wild asparagus that apparently grew around here.

Since we don’t see asparagus of any sort on any of the menu’s, in any of the shops or at any of the roadside stalls, we ask if there is still asparagus to be found here. The people we talked to said that they didn’t know of  any,  but  there used to be in the past because rainfall was higher then  than is it now.

We walk though the town,  and  I photograph the town square and a colourful church…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

There were market stalls on the side of the road. lots of fruit being sold, we watched as an elderly man haggled for a single fish and then saw him buy the smallest bottle of olive oil I have ever seen (about the size of a mini alcohol bottle) … we later passed  him walking on the outskirts of town,  taking home his evening dinner.

You can’t have an idea of the soul of a country unless you try  some less touristic things and do a few things as local people do:  for the return journey  we decide to travel local style to Santa Maria, so we board an argulia  local minibus for public transport (Euro 1,– per person) and  make ourselves comfortable. The mini bus already looks full, but no, another half dozen people turn up with a heap of stuff and it appears that they are joining us.

That’s how we come to share cramped conditions with at least five more passengers than this minibus was ever intended for,  plus a strange  and “fragrant” assortment of  food and luggage that got piled into every available space around us.

Every window that still opens is rolled down, and heavily laden to epic proportions, the driver then proceeds to pull out of  Espargos with the car radio turned up to a deafening volume.

Little Mr, hater of loud noises at any time, spent the journey back folded into a defensive little ball  on my knee with his (and my) hands over his ears. It was stifling hot inside the minibus and very windy as the wind buffeted our faces in the rear of the vehicle,  and I was more than a little nervous at times because our driver was exactly like the other drivers we’ve seen here:  speed lunatics who apparently fancy themselves as grand prix racers.

This attitude to driving appears to be fueled in part by the existance of a brand spanking new dual carriageway  highway that runs for most of the distance between Espargos and Santa Maria.  It’s rather errie considering that this mega wide and pristine piece of road  runs though a dessert wilderness and seems to be designed  to transport thousands of cars rather than the maybe 40 cars we saw whilst we were on it.

Planning for a future population boom? Ok,  planning ahead  is always good, but with a population of only 8.000  I think  it will be decades if not centuries before you see a traffic jam on this highway.

Between the noise of the wind rushing by and eardrum assult of the radio Kiwi Best Friend and I both exit the minivan in Santa Maria with thumping headaches…

Still, we survived, they were friendly and we had asprin.  As the old adage goes.. “third class riding is better than first class walking…”

September 2, 2011

Comparing Dinner to Lunch and being Ruined for Life…

Filed under: CAPE VERDE,FOOD,Travel — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Still on my 2007  retro tour of Sal in the Cape Verde islands, we have found that cooking back at our self catering accomodation is limited by  the difficulties of obtaining the ingredients in the quantities we want and the cooking space and equipment available.

Eating out is not terribly expensive so we  decide to head to the resautant that’s  not too far from the pier, on the beachfront  for dinner.

We had been here earlier in the day, for lunch  and returned  in the evening becuase we had been impressed. I’ve got a combination of our lunchtime and evening menu photos here.

Kiwi’s Best Friend had lobster for lunch, she scored it high on the yummy scale, and  had a deep fried cheese appy to go wiith it, the verdict on the cheesy thing  was ” looked divine, taste somewhat lacking”

Kiwi’s Best Friend had sampled some of my lunchtime tuna and loved it so ordered the tuna for dinner … I tried some too… it was good but was not nearly as good my lunch plate….  Different chef perhaps?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Wanting a change from tuna  I opted for the grilled fish for dinner and it was  quite tasty actually, especially compared to some of the others.. ton of tiny bones made it a hassle though…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Himself couldn’t resist the lure of reasonably priced mega fresh lobster… we hardly got a word out of him becuase he was constantly busy eating with a look of bliss on his face.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Ordering the bread here was the best and worst thing I have probably ever done in my life. It was beyond divine. It’s arguably the best combination of garlic and bread I have ever eaten, the garlic was intense but not with that “raw” kind of taste you sometimes get when you have a mega heap of garlic…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I want all garlic bread to be like this.. forever and ever. This one has probably ruined me becuase few will ever measure up to this again in my lifetime. (sigh) I wrote this note when we were on Sal and sadly no garlic bread I have had since has been as good.

This bread has ruined me for life…   I have this bread in mind each and every time I make my own garlic butter concoctions to go on bread… I keep trying, but in all honesty, I haven’t even gotten close.

Oh well, everyone needs a Life Challenge,  “To attempt to match this garlic bread perfection“… (happy sigh) …someone’s gotta do it.

September 1, 2011

There is also Time for Some Fun…

Filed under: CAPE VERDE,PHOTOGRAPHY,Places and Sights,Travel — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Still on my retro tour of the Cape Verde Island of Sal… Yes, we often see people fishing for their dinner’s but there is also some time for fun.

The beaches here are well known in windsurfing circles and we saw quite a few surfers too.

The large jetty in the bay stands on very tall piles and some of these dare devil locals were taking a running jump and going some somersaults off the sides:  it’s much further down that it looks, so bravo guys, rather you than me!

Getting the shutter to close at the right moment on a small point-and-shoot camera is notoriously difficult so I praised the digital age for what must be the ten zillionth time as I deleted  tens of photos that showed just a foot, or an arm or in a lot of cases, entirely missed the jumper completely.

Diving is also popular here, but getting the heavy tanks into the boats at the end of the jetty was no mean feat.

There’s too big a drop to pass them down so they has to take them one handed on a slippery ladder at the end.  We watched a team of guys loading and unloading tanks from boats and even though they are well used to the heat they were sweating like crazy.

This isn’t just work, it’s a workout.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

August 31, 2011

Make a Man-Made Tidal Pool and the Sea Dumps in Fish Twice a Day!

Filed under: CAPE VERDE,PHOTOGRAPHY,Places and Sights,Travel — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

On the other side of the restaurant close to our rental appartment, someone had made a sort of  pond or man-made tidal pool that appears to be self-stocked spasmodically by the sea as the tide passes over it twice a day.

From the vantage point of the restaurant balcony we look down on  a group of young lads fishing for their dinner. They appeared to be sorting and cleaning  the fish as well.

From the  restaurant  balcony I could also zoom in on the jetty across the bay (not that the zoom lens on the camera I was using is particulary powerful)

A few days later I take more photos from this same jetty and with the zoom pointed back towards this restaurant it’s possible to see the waves rolling over the spot where these boys are fishing in the first photos.

Not only is this a cool way to go fishing it’s also dinner!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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