Stop in Mindelo and restart of the ARC plus for S. Lucia
There was talk of the wind , the undisputed master of oceanic spaces, which together with its friend ocean sea regulate man’s life. Without the wind there would have been no navigators or even the discoveries of new lands, and not even the commercial trafficking which in fact perpetuated the need for man, able to transform knowledge of new lands into commercial business. But it is always the wind that decides. I say this because of the fifth ocean crossing(each different from the other) is the first time that I perceive so strongly the importance of the wind as an inexhaustible energy engine of everything. An ocean passage is not always a navigation textbook as this is proving, from the departure from Giblterra to today. Never had we experienced so intensely the vital energy that infuses you with the trade wind, the real one, the one that has been messing you up for 20 days, at sea or on land but allows you to advance from one horizon to another. But we will talk about the crossing and the days on board then, even if I have to say it, here, in Ariel’s heart, the other part of me is missing, which is not the other half, but the other whole, what would complete and render perfect these days, my Ceci.
But let’s go back to the Cape Verdeans,and their lands. Mindelo is the capital of Sao Vicente, because nature has created a refuge from the ocean waves allowing the landing of ships. Although a small island, it all started from there. It can be visited in half a day, but it is a miniature glimpse of what “Cape Verde” is. Even today, everyone is wondering why they called them that green. at first glance, they really only have the name. Further mockery, the only mountain of sao Vicente they called it Monte verde: but then we understood why. Barren and arid beyond the imaginable, where not even a goat would want to be, the natives have thought of importing the acacia tree, which needs little water, and forms intertwined roots that make it a robust plant, but in the long run uncomfortable. with almost weed characteristics as it regenerates itself,spreading like a patch with the only help of the wind. But at least it has begun to donate a few touches of green to some valleys.
With the acacia came a bit of shade, then the bees, the goats, and life began to soften the features of a cayenne. The other problem that has been and still is the fulcrum of the Cape Verdean ingenuity is the lack of natural sources of water.. It is not known why but while in Madeira or the Azores there are springs of water, here in the south they do not exist, in any of the 10 islands. The only unsalted water supply is provided by the clouds; but it is not a question of collecting rainwater (a fact which they do here in an engineering and very effective way, but I’ll explain it later), but to absorb the humidity of the clouds. In the mountains, since every island has at least one mountain whose peaks pierce the clouds, they have invented and built absorbent panels with intertwined jute-like nets and with other plants, including acacia branches, so that the cloud releases water which is then harvest in irrigation canals: and so the crops arrived. The way not to disperse rainwater, apart from the usual tubs or terrace roofs that we also see in our south,here they exploited the concept oflabyrinth, inviting the water to walk through labyrinthine paths of stone (material that is not lacking on the islands) with the intent of slowing down the descent to the valley, and therefore its loss, but above all to live up to what is the ultimate goal of labyrinth, that of not letting it out!
From here it was possible to create areas so rich in water, that combined with the fertility that a volcanic soil has by definition, so much so that it was possible to start a serious cultivation no longer of only acacias, but of sugar cane, vines, bananas, mangoes, papaya , bread tree, Cassava, so as to depict areas of islands with a rainforest type, and other arid stony ground, and others with sandy dunes and wild beaches, giving strength and space to fishing and the construction of salt pans.
The first message we received before landing was: islands of simplicity and essence. It’s true, and I add some dignity . The stubbornness of this people, which has nothing indolent about it, and it is wonderful to know that the population under 30 is the majority, that they continue to grow and out of a million Cape Verdeans, half are traveling around the world to study or simply to live elsewhere, but those who return, and many return home, do so by bringing something new to give back to their land. Islands where cleanliness, decorum and lack of intrusiveness struck us, even though they live in poverty. But poverty without squalor. It is the superfluous that in reality clouds and makes people indolent in the long run and leads man to be a prisoner of himself, a true false free man.
The stone: what can a man who is born in a stony ground do? Other than planting acacias and trying to trap water? and build houses of stone? As the Romans did, who taught everyone, “cobble”, or make the streets. Even today, on the threshold of 2020, the streets in Cape Verde are made and maintained like mosaics, that is, cobbled for kilometers. There is a job, that of the maintenance of the road network, because the enemy of the so-called “dry” mosaic roads is rain, therefore in drier periods, from March to November, the roads are repaired.
But let’s get back to reality: Now it’s November 23, Saturday, it’s 0700 and we have covered exactly 300 miles from the start, and we are missing at S Lucia 1790, we are sailing with 20 knots of trade wind at 150 degrees to starboard, with gennaker and genoa tangonato at an average of 8 knots. We still have Gibraltar diesel in our tanks, with a refill in Mindelo to leave with a full tank, but we only used the engine to enter and leave the port. In total so far 2000 miles driven only by the wind. A record for Ariel.
Dawn should be experienced with coffee! See you tomorrow. Paolo & Crew
PS: Renzo (Florentine “sailor”) arrives in the dinette this morning at 0645 “Good morning Renzo!” “Good morning, what’s it raining? Do I hear a noise like rainwater, or are we still sailing? but it never stops? maremma! “