The "Canal Sea” approaches the anchorage.
The waves soften as the islet of Farol gains volume.
It stands out from the imposing cliffs between ocher and brown, which flank the bay of Porto Grande, almost on the northwest threshold of Cape Verde.
In such a way that it reveals the white staircase that climbs to the top. The acrobatic houses of Mindelo are unveiled along the extensive base of Monte Verde, as if trying to conquer its summit.
At the time the boat docks, the sun falls behind Monte Cara. It illuminates and yellows the city with an astral morabeza that is both soft and ephemeral.
Once on land, with night beginning, we found ourselves eager to discover what was beyond the huge iron walls that seemed to contain the capital.
We decided to discover it before dedicating ourselves to the Mindelo.
The new day dawned sunny and somewhat windy as is supposed in the cooler and dry season of Cape Verde.
We took the rental car on Avenida Marginal and, soon, the Mindelo-Calhau road, a long irregular sidewalk, made of basalt stones, as volcanic as its final destination.
We continue upstream of the dry Julião stream, through a savannah with dry, shallow hay, dotted with thorny bushes.
A Breathtaking Return to São Vicente
Gradually, we enter the heart of the island and point to the capricious east coast.
Calhau won't be long. Admire its multicolored houses at the foot of the two black volcanoes that reinforce the smallness of the homes.
The open surroundings appear to us in style Western, like nowhere ghosts swept by sand and dust, full of ground-floor buildings abandoned to the waterhole and the Alisios.
One of these structures is joined by an overturned goal and a whole rough soccer field in front of it. A sign identifies them: FC Beira Mar do Calhau.
The seat is black and yellow, the exact colors of Sport Clube Beira-Mar de Aveiro. In the distance, towards the rest of Cape Verde's west coast and the African continent, we can still see the island of Santa Luzia, clearly offside.
We take the road that is named Baía das Gatas-Calhau there.
The Calhau is already behind when we notice that a bush like a tree hugs the steel rail.
It invades the edge and sways in the wind on the asphalt, as if to claim the supremacy of the adventurous plant world.
From Praia Grande to Baía das Gatas
Still without seeing a soul, we entered the open area of Praia Grande.
A succession of lofty plateaus of long-cooled lava give way to the coast.
Successive sands extend from the tidal limit of the Atlantic, up the slopes.
The road that undulates between these same slopes and the ocean crosses the sands and the dunes.
It leads us to a last cove closed by new linear houses.
We consulted the map. We confirmed that it was the Baía das Gatas that we had already heard so much about. It was the excuse that we didn't need to visit and refresh ourselves with icy Strelas.
Far from the date of the famous local festival and without the crowds from Mindelo and other parts of Cape Verde, those places lacked life. Color abounded. Especially on assorted fishermen's boats.
So we ended up sitting down to lunch on an airy terrace, seduced by the genuine reception of the owner: “If you want food from here, you'll have to wait at least half an hour.
Here we make everything fresh and on time.” let us know, for sure already tired of the rush of the small tours that passed by. "No, there is no cachus! But there is fried chicken."
We have nothing to complain about.
We sat between French, Dutch and English. Since landing in Mindelo, we have not seen any sign of compatriots.
We savored the beers and the strangeness of that corner of the island that the company made more foreign.
The Picturesque and Bathing Corner of Salamansa
After the small feast, we proceed to Salamansa, the fishing village that followed, located in the bay before the capital because of the fresh water, rare in most parts of São Vicente, as in the rest of the archipelago. We entered what appeared to be the main street.
A group of women and children share the fountain of the village, armed with jerricans plastics. As the containers fill, they exchange jokes and spontaneous jokes to which they respond with easy laughs.
Across the road, another, older woman, had just laid out the blue outfit of the local football club under the gaze of a small clan of men, some players, other former players and supporters who, motivated by our interest , rushed to praise the value of their team.
We passed the beach in front of the village. There, king sports are different. Several native teenagers and a young Dutchman who ended up staying run an informal water sports center.
At the same time, they perfect their surfing and kitesurf.
Upon returning from the sea, some of them volunteer for a short photographic production. Cristiano, Kenny Marlon and Vladimir display, in stylish poses, their boards and physiques.
Confident, Jaírson doesn't need props to reach the same plan.
Ascension to the Ceiling of São Vicente
We were about to close the way back to the road we had been driving since early in the morning. At the same time, we had approached the access to the island's zenith (750 m), the Monte Verde overlooking that we admired when the ferry arrived from Santo Antão.
We ascend to its panoramic summit. Slowly, slowly, the altitude trapped us with majestic views of Praia Grande.
And forward, far away, from Santo Antão, from the Bay of Porto Grande, from the Mindelo that filled it and the barren but stunning hills and valleys between the plateau that supported us and the São Vicente Channel.
Despite the distance, we realized that the “Canal Sea” returned to dock at the port. The day ended in a flash and the lights took over the houses.