Time flies when you are having fun. And Exodus was getting closer to her departure date. The extra crew for the Atlantic Crossing was to be picked up in Praia, the capital of Santiago and of the entire Cabo Verde.
Praia accounts for a quarter of the country’s population, about 128 000 people. There is a big port and a large city set in greener surroundings compared to all the other places we have seen. Apparently the steepness of the mountains locks in the moisture better, soaking plants, soil, rocks, growing moss and resulting in rich woods and luxuriant vegetation. From the bay you could see areas that looked more like a shanty town, more like any city in Africa. There is a river with sewerage and waste from upstream that drains in the water and a Coca Cola factory, resulting in smelly water. No use switching on your water maker there unless you want to ruin all your filters.
Praia has a bad reputation, regarding theft and safety, and we did not find many other yachts out on anchor. Most of the other yachts were tied up together close to the port. Our first night the policia maritima actually took the effort to drive out and warn us and asked us kindly to move closer to the ponta velha just in front of their offices, where they could keep an eye on us. Just recently they had some theft and even though they managed to catch the guys they did not want to take a chance. Next to the policia maritima there was a fisherman workshop and mooring area for local boats. These guys were also keen to keep an eye on the dinghy and the boat, for a small fee, when we went on shore for the last shopping.
In Praia our focus was solely on getting ready for the big crossing. Counting and recounting our stock, going back to the shops to get the last bits and pieces. Making the last preparations like repairing the sail bag, doing another hull clean, installing jack lines, and servicing the water maker and boat engine.
One morning, on the beach a genuine sea horse was darting around in the water. A brown large specimen playing in the water, swimming behind his jockey, getting washed. The first time we saw an actual horse swim and having great fun at it!
There are no shops around the lower part of the bay. All business is located on the plateau. The easiest is to take a taxi or minibus. In the main road there are 2 large supermarkets and several smaller (Chinese owned) shops. We were happy to have done the bulk shopping for the crossing in Gran Canaria, where there was ample choice in products and the supermarket delivered the goods to the marina. We only had to get a few extra items and stock up on fresh stuff and fruit and vegetables to get through the next 3weeks. On the same main road there is a big fruit and vegetable market, comprising 2 levels. An abundance of vegetables on the ground floor. Fruit or mixed fruit and veg stalls on the top, next to a small fish market section. Again it was striking to see how friendly and chatty Cape Verdian people are. All smiles and helpful, and not intent on ripping off a foreign white face.
With our extra crew safely on board, and after getting the last bits and pieces, it was time to check out. Here we noticed the benefit of speaking Portuguese and being African. Arthur had no problem sorting out all the paperwork, getting the custom clearance for the boat, stamping the passports as well as obtaining permission to visit Fogo after completing all the documents. A French yachtie was far less lucky. He was brusquely brushed off by the same authorities.