Friday, April 4, 2008

Cape Verde

I just got back from Cape Verde. It was one of the most spectacular trips of my life. I'll be posting photos soon, but for now, two quick anecdotes.

On my first day of hiking, I decided to go against the advice of the professional guide at the residencial, Casa Cavoquinho, that I stayed at. He said the path was extremely hard to follow and very difficult and dangerous. He was right. When I told one of the villagers near the top of the mountain what I intended to do, he looked at me like I was insane. A couple of kids followed me most of the way pointing the way down... down a practically vertical drop, with barely visible switchbacks cutting back and forth, several hundred meter drops on either side. After I made it past the most difficult section, I met a kid, probably no more than 10, carry a bag of rice and a knife. He seemed as if he were waiting for me to come down. He began to lead me through the rest of the trail, waiting for me whenever I paused to take a picture. Whenever we got to a difficult section, he would wait at the bottom to make sure I made it down ok. After we finished the last hard part, I thanked him and we parted ways. I never had a better guide in my life.

On the way back from Lungi International Airport, I decided against the overcrowded and lumberous Kissy Ferry. Instead, I made my way through the ramshackle village port of Tagrin and found some of the boats that head over to Freetown, across the mouth of Sierra Leone river that spills out into the Atlantic. You often see them, overcrowded and making their journey across the water. The boats are broken down messes, made of wood and leaks. The seats amount to either standing against the side or balancing on the edge, gripping the sides to prevent yourself from falling over the side as the boat rocked about in the waves. After enough people boarded, the boat set off. Mid-way across the water, another boat approached on the return trip from Freetown, and my boat began to veer directly towards it. The boats nearly crashed head on, the sides grating together, and people sitting on the sides of the other boat diving toward the center to avoid the colliding wood. At the last second, one passenger from the other boat dived on. Apparently that's how transfers in Sierra Leone take place.

1 comment:

Garreth said...


So listen...does your mom read this? As a parent of 2 (going on 3) I'd just like to note that hearing how close you came to passing out as you decended the mountain (shirt drenched, hands shaking, dizzy--yeah, I read the caption on your pictures)...hearing that is not necessarily something I think Heather would like to hear from one of our sons. And then there's the boat ride. Oh that's good. Yeah, ankle deep in water on a sloop crossing the Atlantic, veering into other ships to make transfers... Yup! That's certainly reassuring.

All the best, my friend. I'll be looking for more adventures from you soon.