Poeira de Deus

Travel

My journey to Cabo Verde is not over. After having visited the islands Santiago and Fogo, I started researching about the whole archipelago more and more and it seems that the journey through the available material is endless. Each island represents a very unique history, culture and even more often: a dialect.

So during the cold evenings in Berlin, drinking the flowery moscatel and refreshing white wine from the volcanic soil of Fogo I managed to find a documentary about the Rebelados – a community that inhabits the mountain ranges of Serra da Malagueta, and refuses the catholic religion, that was historically imposed on Cabo Verde by the Portuguese colonisation that lasted until 1974. I find it particularly interesting to see the beautiful mountain landscapes and fascinating celebrations, such as batuque.

I have spent one day hiking around the Serra Malagueta range, and nearby towns such as Assomada and São Domingos, that are the centre of communication to/from Praia and Tarrafal. Also, they offer a bustling marketplaces with food, clothing and what-not. Having in mind that Cabo Verde is a remote archipelago with the majority of its population living abroad, and scarce possibilities for agriculture, many of the goods taken for granted in the Western societies, here are often a basic need to be fulfilled (such as food, or even water).

In some places rain has not appear in years. Even though Santiago is considered the island with the most tropical climate (and hence: cases of dengue, malaria and ultimately – zika are rare, but contrary to other islands of archipelago, may happen due to the presence of the mosquitos).

The magnificent views, however, and the hospitality (morabeza  – the word originating in Portuguese creole) can make up for the certain hostility of the climate on these remote islands. There is a beautiful story to it called ‘God’s powder’ (Poeira de Deus): on the 8th day after creating and sculpting the world, God threw the rest of the powder into the ocean, creating 10 islands of Cabo Verde. Believe or not, I think there is some truth in it.

 

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Tarrafal, o paraíso remoto

Travel

After my first two days in Praia, I followed up with a short trip to the neighbouring island of Fogo (port. fire) and Cidade Velha, the first colonial settlement in West Africa, but the real treat was only waiting for me on the other side of the Santiago Island.

We boarded North on the Christmas Eve, hoping to get to the other tip of the island before the dusk – not only because we wanted to have a traditional feast, but to safely cross the picturesque, yet dangerous Serra Malagueta mountain range. Dangerous if you drive in the pick up together with some other, 20 people inside (and a duck, in this particular case).

So we made it to Tarrafal, a town on the Northwestern tip of the island, the destination for the hippie families, laid-back wanderers who love watching the sunsets (if the weather conditions are great, you get to see the sun setting over the Fogo volcano – I didn’t take my camera when it happened, oh well), drinking coconut water, or surfing. There are three beaches in the bay of Tarrafal, and all of them offering white sand: a rarity on this island.

Tarrafal is also a very popular holiday destination for the Cape Verdeans – there were many families, often travelling all the way from France (where the biggest diaspora of Cape Verde is currently based) that were spending time until the festivities of Santo Amaro (happening on 15th January).

Having spent over 5 days in Tarrafal, I got accustomed to the local community: having visited both the church, as the local festivities (in the cultural centre with the Anonymous logo :)) of batucadeiras and eating out in the local bars and restaurants and celebrating in the Mercado Central. Contrary to Praia, here the time passed slowly, peacefully in the shadow of the funny Monte Gordo (eng. Fat Mountain) and I reflected back on it, talking to the fishermen, surfers, or homeless dogs on the beach and simply enjoying to learn about life in this little, remote paradise on Earth.

 

 

Lisboa – Luanda

Music, Travel

During those last couple of years I was close to consider myself as a frequent transatlantic flyer from the Lisbon’s TAP airlines hub. Be it Brazil, be it Madeira, be it any South American destination, Lisbon has been just a good connection point from the Iberian Peninsula, not as crowded as Madrid Barajas and offering very interesting direct connections with the South American and African continent.

The idea for this first within the series of posts is generated by my curiosity about the cross-Atlantic influences between the postcolonial Portuguese-speaking countries. This one would be about the Angolan presence in a modern-time Portugal and Brazil.

When living in Lisbon, my attention was not only attracted by the local culture, but rather by the overwhelmingly rich mix of the Afrolusobrasilian influences. This is where I learned my first kizomba steps, and where I discovered some underground places in Bairro Alto serving kuduro music as their main dish. Back in the day, 2008/2009-ish kuduro became a world’s electronic music fetish, as well, so I had a feeling I am in the centre of the world.

The most famous kuduro team, Buraka Som Sistema dedicated quite a lot of their tracks to describe the Angolan presence in Lisbon, with the anthem ‘Luanda Lisboa’

Angolan influence is also very visible in the Bahian culture of Brazil, with the richness of the Candomblé religion. For instance, in the 70s, a lot of MPB artists, such as Claudia with her ‘Ossain’, performed their songs based on the traditional lyrics, chants and traditions of this religion:

However, since the difficult crisis years commenced in Portugal, well, in all the Southern Europe in general, the migration tendencies seem to change. Each day several planes leave at least Lisbon’s airport in the Luanda’s direction. Not only the 2nd or even 3rd generation of the Angolan descendents in Portugal search for their professional careers in this African land of promise, but also the Portuguese and the Brazilians. Luanda nowadays is one of the most expensive cities to live in, but the salaries for the expatriates and contracted high-level employees seem to be also one of the most attractive in the world.

I did not have a chance to travel to Angola so far. However, I feel very tempted to do so given its rich culture and complex history. Still, unstable politics, striking inequalities in the distribution of goods seem to be a pain in the neck for a daily life of the Angolans. I hope to get back with some more insightful post shortly, maybe when I finally book the trip: Lisboa – Luanda…

Wiki:

Bairro Alto – a neighbourhood in Lisbon famous for cosy bars and small underground cultures clubs, a night life centre of the city

kuduro – is a type of music and dance originally developed in Angola in the 1980s, became popular worldwide around 2008, given the ‘dubstep-related’ trends

kizomba – ‘Angolan salsa’, a popular music and dance style in Angola, and increasingly in Portugal and equally in some other Western European countries, such as in France or the UK

Candomblé – animistic religion brought to Brazil from the Western African tribes (mostly: Yoruba)

Ossain – a symbol within the Candomblé religion