October 5, 2006
After getting a bit lost at the Sal airport, (I did not realize that I was supposed to get on the same plane we just got off), and enjoying the pleasant low key conversations with the locals who went out of their way to help me, I arrived at the airport in Santiago. There I waited for my backpack and was quickly surrounded by taxi drivers wanting to grab my bag and get a quick fare. I took the taxi first in line and went through a rather poor section of town before checking in at around two in the morning at a very fancy hotel, the luxurious contrast made me feel a little uneasy in this new place. I learned later that the taxi driver hustled me for twice the going rate, next time I have to remember to negotiate the fare before I get into the taxi. The people speak an African/Portuguese Creole, which is very pleasant on the ears, however I have no real clue what they are saying so I use English and I get around with a few smiles. I sleep in a bit and relax by the fancy pool. Walking outside the hotel you quickly see the poverty that surrounds it. The rocky crags by the beach are used as latrines, there is garbage strewn around and the roads are in ill repair. The people I meet though all smile and make you feel comfortable. In the distance is an old fortress that protected the island, ironically the hotel is built in the same way, protecting an inner sanctum. Unfortunately, I did not manage to get to the main part of town where I am told there is a vibrant market. The economy in the Cape Verde Islands is growing rapidly and on a Human Development Index, ranks 106th out of 177 countries, which is comparable to Jamaica. http://hdr.undp.org/hdr2006/statistics/countries/country_fact_sheets/cty_fs_CPV.html
Later in the evening I am joined by Prof. Hedlin who has come in on a separate flight from San Diego. We have a great codfish dinner together at the Hotel Tropico and plan to leave in the morning.