Sintra. The new.
The one on the wettest and greenest island in Cape Verde which, due to these same attributes, saw the original name of São João being changed to Brava. The island of the village, its largest population, which, in 2010, was promoted to city.
Like Brava in general, Nova Sintra proved, to its Portuguese settlers, a kind of magnetic pole of the mist, from time to time, also of the dry mist that reaches it from the east, from the parched and smoky domains of Fogo.
Mist has always been a part of both. To such an extent that a writing from 1988, called “Brava, traditional festivities of Nho Sandjon and the Municipality.” affirm that “the origin of the population of the island is lost in the fog of the past. Therefore, each one imagines it somewhat in the way of their sympathies”.
Instead of imagining it, shortly after disembarking from the ferry from São Filipe, Djar Fire, We dedicate ourselves to sift through the city's eight hundred or so residents, as intrusive as possible in their contemporary lives.
The Humid Green that earned the Main Town the title of Nova Sintra
In the middle of the XNUMXth century, the Brava – still called the island of São João – was by far the most cultivated island in Cape Verde – an absolute contrast to the arid São Vicente e Sal Island full of corn, beans, sweet potatoes, bananas, pumpkins, cassava and even vines that gave “150 barrels of bad wine.”
Settlers coming from the metropolis worked the land and, at a certain point, slaves taken to Brava, eventually from Ribeira Grande in Santiago, charged with serving them.
Its scenery of semi-tropical smallholdings, papaya and dragon trees that emerged from plantations and villages, made of whitewashed houses with colored frames, all irrigated by the resident Alisia fog that even in the height of summer maintains the maximum temperature below 25º, has him the epithet of "Cape Verde's Cintra".
After some time, this unofficial title gave rise to the official name of the solitary village on the island, Nova Sintra.
The Portuguese saloia village would insinuate itself, under the two spellings, wherever we went, even in the form of a bottled mystery.
We were looking for a grocery store that would supply us with a few spare groceries.
Mulata the Brava and the Beer We Thought Extinct
As we look through the shelves, we see the familiar labels of one of the drinks that, while it lasted, we liked the most: Cintra “Mulata”, a tanned and creamy beer, with a well-balanced flavor between sweet and bitter, launched in 2002, by the company of the ex-President of Sporting Clube de Portugal José de Souza Cintra and that would have lasted, in Portugal, only until the bankruptcy of 2006.
We neither saw nor tasted the beloved”Mulatta” since it disappeared from the market. We thought, moreover, that it had become extinct. And yet, there it was, before us, a phoenix of carefully selected malts reborn from the ashes.
We asked the owner how he explained that he still had all those bottles for sale. “Oops… I'm not aware of what happened there, but these aren't even very old. They came here to supply them a month or so ago.”
In the absence of further clarification, we concluded that some post-bankruptcy agreement would have made it possible to produce and export Cintra beers to Cape Verde, we estimated that also to Brazil, possibly other stops.
Just in case, we bought a few bottles, determined to miss them.
In the bars and terraces of Praça Eugénio Tavares, the central square of Nova Sintra, the “star” – more white than black or Creole – continued to dominate preferences, challenged by the inevitable competitor Super Bock.
We noticed this when we were looking for a cachupa to restore our energy.
In Search of Cachupa in Eugénio Tavares Square
In a hungry demand for the four or five restaurants and bars around the pointed bandstand, the heart of the village, on the Portuguese pavement that covers it in an undulating pattern, were the people of Brava forgetting the Atlantic that encloses and rocks them.
Finally, we find an establishment ready to serve us the Cape Verdean delicacy, even if in its poor version, not the rich one, full of vegetables that we preferred.
We taste it and Strellas Crioulas, worthy substitutes for the enigmatic Cintra Mulata, with our eyes on TV and the channel Afrommusic, in which, to the sound of new music from Cape Verde and other parts of Africa, successive mulatto women, brunettes and darker voluptuous women displayed and wagged their tails, delivered to the kuduros and twerks that stimulate the continent's younger generations.
We return to the square that honors the city's prominent historical figure, Nho Eugenio, its great politician, journalist, poet, playwright, musician, composer of mornas and Cape Verdean soul, among other crafts.
Eugénio Tavares the Mulato and Prodigal Son of Brava
Eugénio Tavares was also a mulatto, the son of a Scalabitan father and a Fogo native.
In addition to the christening of the square, Nova Sintra praises him with a bronze statue in which Eugénio, seated, with shiny hair and a long flowing moustache, holds one of the works that made him famous.
We sweat a good sweat over Praça Eugénio Tavares. Not because of the salacious movements on TV. More because of the excessive spicy with which we seasoned the cachupa.
Next to the bandstand, an unexpected daughter-in-law broke the momentum of the paved waves. It would give us back and whoever passed by to the island's abundance of fresh water and its famous fertility.
The 14th of February Unusual, by Brava
In the middle of Valentine's Day, teenage Don Juans and opportunists took advantage of the flowerbeds in the garden.
They disputed the remaining fresh flowers, with which they planned to charm their maidens.
On the steps of the Bar Morabeza, one of them, double free, saw himself already smitten with pink lipstick kisses.
If flirtations are universal, we knew well that the fan of the kuduro came from Angola and the twerk, it had gained momentum in the United States, especially on the more global channels such as MTV and, of course, the withering Trace.
The numerous adulations and attempts at emulation of North American music videos that we could see on Afromusic, however, had an additional reason.
Since the end of the XNUMXth century, when a devastating drought afflicted Brava, the main destination of the huge Cape Verdean diaspora (more Cape Verdeans live abroad than at home) has been the United States.
Now, if Cape Verdeans have long supported Cape Verde with their frequent and generous remittances, they also send contagious US influences and cultural trends to the archipelago.
Rehearsals for the Impending Carnival
We walked up Rua da Cultura. Unexpectedly, drums rumbled.
On any Valentine's Day, you can almost always see the imminent Carnival, longed for in Nova Sintra as the brava festival it's supposed to be.
Accordingly, there were rehearsals of a parade animated by musicians and extras with illustrated coconut shell socks playing a mask.
We decided to follow the parade sketch.
When we do, we ask two resting drummers if we could photograph them.
One of them, more vain, fills his eyes with brightness. The two adjust to a bluish door that we agreed would serve as a background.
They compose poses of the stars that the outside photographers had chosen. Above the door, above their heads swollen with pride, we noticed a Yankee license plate that some emigrant kept affixed there.
It was from New Hampshire, from the year 1998. It closed it, in the form of a road base, with the motto “Live Free or Die”.
Faith in the Churches of the Braves
In Nova Sintra, the free profusion of churches and faiths is somewhat miraculous.
Brava is the smallest of Cape Verde's inhabited islands. It has a mere 67km2 which we could almost call “round”, so perfect is the circumference on which the volcanism these parts of the Atlantic.
The capital occupies only a few and is home to less than two thousand inhabitants. Even so, the old Catholic church of São Baptista, built in 1880, disputes its belief.
The Church of the Nazarene, Protestant. A New Apostolic. Another Adventist. A Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
And finally, a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses.
This refuge in the faith of Bravians has been around for a long time.
Brava: an island long at the mercy of volcanoes
When it's not Fogo, it's Brava's own volcanic activity that makes its own.
The scare of 1840 has gone down in history, when Monte da Cruz do Frade erupted, with roars that deafened the islanders, coming from a furnace that, despite the gigantic one on the summit of Fogo, everyone feared that it might explode without warning.
Whether legend or reality, only the fearless ascent, to the top, of a priest with a cross in the air, ensured the exorcism of the demon that had taken over the volcano and the reassurance of the afflicted population.
At least, for a while.
Neither Brava nor, much less Nova Sintra, will ever really be safe.
Scientists have come to the conclusion that the island Brava is a huge volcano.
And that the Fundo Grande in which the capital was installed, a kind of caldera with about 600 meters in diameter, is its half-buried crater.
Hence, the apocalyptic theory was generated and popularized that Brava is shaped like a chalice with a slender stem that could break at any time and cause the island to suddenly sink into the Atlantic.
In Brava and Nova Sintra, any sudden sign of volcanic activity makes the people of Brava retreat from the restlessness suffered by their ancestors and beg, in a whisper, for God's mercy, in any of their homes.
Everyone knows that when the Father watches over the Bravians, he keeps them cozy under the divine mist of the island.