Located 300 miles (483 km) off the coast of West Africa, the Cape Verde archipelago comprises ten islands and five islets, most of them of volcanic origin. They are divided into the windward and leeward groups and cover an area slightly larger than Rhode Island.
Colonised by the Portuguese in the 15th century, they first settled on the island of Santiago to the south of São Vicente and established the town of Cidade Velha. It was from here that the main slave trade developed between the Cape Verde Islands, Europe and America.
While Praia on the island of Santiago is the archipelago’s largest and capital city, Mindelo, with its brightly coloured colonial buildings, is considered the island’s prettiest town. It boasts an excellent deep-water harbour, Porto Grande, which is in close proximity to Mindelo.
The official language is Portuguese, while the national language is Crioulo, a Creole dialect of archaic Portuguese mixed with many African elements and adapted English words.
Going Ashore in Mindelo
The ship is scheduled to dock at the portof Mindelo. It is about two miles (3.2 km) to the centre of town. A few taxis may be available at the port gate, 500 yards (455 metres) from the ship. It is recommended to establish the fare with the driver before leaving the port area.
Best buys are traditional handicrafts such as pottery, baskets and woven articles. Main shopping areas are found in the town centre. You may want to check out Art Criola and Art Africana for best selections. Most shops close for lunch between 12:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. The local currency is the escudos, but euro notes are currently accepted in all shops, bars and restaurants.
Cape Verdean specialties include cachupa, a tasty stew of several kinds of beans and meats and fish. Fish soup is also a good choice, as is pastry filled with a mixture of fresh tuna, onions and tomatoes.
Mindelo has no lack of good restaurants, many offering Portuguese specialties.
The main sights are covered on the organised excursions.
Private arrangements are not available in this port.