Saturday, August 30, 2008

Where I've Been: Cape Verde



Cape Verde is an archipelago of ten teeny-tiny volcanic islands off the coast of Senegal in the North Atlantic. Yes, most hurricanes that hit the Caribbean and the southeast USA start off over Cape Verde as typical summer rainstorms. The uninhabited islands were discovered and populated by the Portuguese in 1460, who brought over Africans as slaves. As was typical of Luso-Hispanic colonialism, blood boiled, races mixed, and Cape Verde was left with a variation of skin tones and hair textures reminiscent of its big brother Brazil. After a brief, shining turn as a major refueling stop for ocean-going vessels and a source of skilled mariners for 19th century American whaling ships, Cape Verde fell into long-term drought-induced economic despair, launching a diaspora now numbering over a million Cape Verdeans in North America and Europe, with less than 500,000 on the islands themselves. Cape Verde's best-known export: soulful morna singer Cesária Évora.



I was invited to accompany my good friend José, Cape Verdean historian and intellectual playboy, to visit his homeland in August of 2004. For two weeks we swatted flies, battled dust and heat, watched Brazilian soap operas, met (literally) boatloads of folks from the States and Europe visiting family for the summer, and relaxing on beaches in the absolute middle of the ocean. Yes, everybody thought I was Cape Verdean ("Hey, why dudn't that kid speak Kriolu?"). No, I'm not Cape Verdean. Would be very proud if I was, though. And yes, I know going there's like going to Hawaii and saying you've been to the USA - technically it's true, so technically, I've been to Africa.

Come Fly:


Also:
Cape Verde on Wikipedia - basic overview
Cape Verde Unabridged - news, politics, and culture
caboverde.com - tourist and cultural information
Cape Verde Home Page - portal to other sites
Governo de Cabo Verde - official government site (in Portuguese)

5 comments:

Camille Acey said...

My best friend in Slovenia is from Colombia. I will show her the blog when I go home. She'll love it!

Thanks for finding me!

tonjavwhite said...

Check your aol email! and Great blog!

Darius T. Williams said...

LOL - I want u to get somewhere and sat down - lol!!! You're all over the place and I wondered where you had been.

pressgirl77 said...

Ernest,

I remember how you said you wanted to travel at FAMU. Congratulations. The rest of us would be traveling too if we could afford it. One of my colleague roommates has fallen madly in love with you. She remembers you back in the day and she's loving you now. Send me e-mail to merissa.green@theledger.com So I can play cupid. Do you know how to get in contact with Sharon Pugh?

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