Tag Archives: Africa

Across Pelorinho: new life of old execution place (part 1)

The bus is taking me in direction of Praça da Sé.

I’m getting out on the last bus stop and take the street to the left, pass the shop of photo equipment and comida a kilo (cafes with Swedish table, where you pay according to the weight of chosen food). Soon I’m on spacious square, with administrative buildings: one of them reminds me White house in Washington DC because of its cupola (that is beautifully lit at night), another – just ugly boring modern that looks more like a train station.

Between them – clumsy yellow building – an entrance of “o elevador Lacerda”. Despite insignificant appearance, tourists love it: this historic lift was build in order to connect upper and lower cities of Salvador: Cidade Alto e Cidade Baixo.

From old terrace of the square, that is supported by arched walls, I see almost the whole bay – Baia dos Todos os Santos, full of cardo ships on raid.

I look down, where half-destroyed district of Comercio is situated. Times, when it flourished as commercial and financial center, have come to the end after “rise” of Iguatemi. Now everything here slowly but constantly drops in decline. Even buildings are so ramshackle that from time to time fall down without help of any other outer force than time.

Old buidings in Pelorinho. When people are hungry, there're no money on restoration

I’m going to Pelorinho, historical and touristic center nowadays, market of prostitution and drugs in recent past and a place, where slaves were punished and executed, originally.

I’m passing Rua da Misericordia with a college and gallery of Pierre Verger (Fundação Pierre Verger: awesome B&W photos of old Salvador and some African countries) on one side and a museum of Sacred Art – on another.

Street art of Pelo.

Peep into a musical shop on a corner, from where sound of samba live is often heard, and run across a narrow street, being aware that taxi drivers are potentially dangerous species in Salvador. Get offer to make a photo in a traditional costume of Baiana (woman of Baia) or rasta, if you wish, and with polite “Nao, obrigada” (No, thanks) turn to the left, to a wide balcony decorated with two huge crosses, laying on each other. Don’t remember a story of the monument, but view on sunsets from here is stunning. And also it’s “a kissing spot” 🙂

Magic of Salvador: probably, these ribbons covering the door of a house are connected with local religion candomble, originally from Nigeria.

Back to the square, along rows of tents that sell cheap bijouterie, stone figures, bunches of Bonfim ribbons, acaraje (traditional dish of Baia) and cockonat sweets, cards of Salvador and ethnic bags. Answering venders with a smile, I enter a short alley – Praça da Sé. In the middle of it – a monument to a chief of a tribe. Shady benches under trees are all occupied by tourists and locals, street dogs slouch lazily unearby.

I go to the corner of Praça da Sé, ignoring numerous shops that sell “Baianos lembrancas” (souvenirs) and through a narrow pass enter the Largo Terreiro de Jesus. Several churches come into view, including huge Catedral Basilica de Salvador (that was built from stone, brought from Portugal, and has now paid entrance).

Churches is what you can find in Pelorinho in abundancy. Would love to think that white plantators somehow deep inside didn’t feel very comfortable about exploitation of other people and treating them as a thing, and built all these churches in slight hope to repent their sins and avoid fires of Gehenna. But even if so, I don’t think they succeeded in it.

To be continued…

Islands of sun and rain

Closed eyes. Touch of silky sand. Mind sinks in music of the mighty Atlantic ocean.


Open eyes.  Endless golden beach. Waves attack it, fiercely, desperately. Rocky range on the edge of the land. Brown slopes are covered with the voile of green bushes. They gave these islands their name – Islands of Green Cape, Cabo Verde.


One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. Idyllic piece of Earth – Playa Grande on the island Sao Vincente. Rocks and ocean coexist in wild harmony here. Sand climbs steep slopes but gives up on the first 10 meters. Rocks invaded the coast but were stopped, polished and rubbed by powerful tide.


In this fantasy place the first time in my life I tried surfing. Wave was pretty messy, frequent and uncertain in direction. Anyway, I decided to go.
On the shore Chris briefly read me a course of basics. First we were laying on the board and pretended we are swimming towards the wave, puddling madly. Then near the board we made a jump. It was nice before I entered water.

“Green” surfer : )

After several fruitless attempts to hold the board under my body, I learned how to duck-dive, let the wave pass me. But after I turned in direction of the shore fun ended. That jump, brilliantly performed on the sand, didn’t happen. So I rolled, and swallowed salt water, and rolled again. Still I feel that the first experience wasn’t that bad.

Sunset in the bay of Mindelo

Mindelo is a biggest city on a small island of Sao Vincente. And the only city in Cape Verde that has a marina. The bay is big and shelter: there’s enough space for marina, mooring and boats anchoring. Still on the anchorage better to stay alerted: thefts are rare in Mindelo but can happen. Praia – the capital of Cape Verde that is situated on Sao Tiago – is more famous for its crime. Our friend Admir told us the story how two young guys stole a boat and sailed to Brazil. Significant that guys were europeans… But that’s a story, reality is that Praia is not the safest place to stay in Cape Verde. This is what we were told.


Mindelo is small and lively town. Houses in the center are painted in bright colors – incredible colors: deep blue, grass green, lemon yellow, glamor pink. Some houses combine in their appearance several colors in pretty weird combinations. Looks like no one here cares about city plan and free to choose any color of the rainbow. I asked myself which one I would paint my walls to. Still thinking.
– Which one would you pick up? – I asked Chris.
–  I like white. And blue – like Vagabond hull.


On local square we connected free Wi-Fi – and signal was perfect. On the corner I found a boutique that sold amazing red shoes. There was a price – 6500 escudos.
– Cuanto custo? En euros, – my curiosity was in excitement.
– SIxty five, – was the answer.
– Ok… Nice shoes, – I left the shop.

A week ago I ran out of money. You always feel that this moment is somewhere in hazy future. So when it happens, it’s always completely unexpected.
So I look for a job – in Russia distantly, or in Brazil. On a boat, in journalism or tourism. Whatever.


I go along the street, pass beautiful square, where local venders sell their simple goods, turn around the corner and stop in front of a huge green tree. I listen – this giant sings to me in thousand of voices. These’re sparrows, who in bunches hang on every branch. Under a thick shelter of leaves they loudly praise sun and rain of Cape Verde.

Anchorage of Mindelo

I just passed a hundred meters but already shabby houses surround me. Behind narrow doors – dirty pubs. Men, smoking outside, look drunk and ready for street fight. Some old people sit on the staircase. Street dogs, hungry and miserable, wander around, searching for food. Girls return from the market, carrying on their heads heavy plastic bowls (local variant of a busket). The secret of this useful exercise is in a round small hat that they wear and on which they “install” the busket. Still I’m sure it’s not that easy as it looks like.
Through this mess I get to the local market on Placa Estrela. Here Admir, local policemen and now my friend, picks me up.  His education impresses: he fluently speaks French, Engllish, Arabic, local Portuguese and Creoli and other 7 local languages. He is professional musician but works as a policemen for 11 years.
With my private guard side by side I feel safe to stare around, on women, drunk men, vegetable venders, wander around rows that sell clothes, mobile phones, African art. Admir knows every second person here and stops to greet them. I smile happily, repeat endlessly “Bon dia”  and feel myself almost a part of local community.

Suburbs are not so cheerful. Houses are old, dirty, very often badly damaged. Locals chat on a street and stare curiously on our car. Pupils, returning from their school studies, wave to us and laugh. There’s not much to see here.

A small town on the western coast of Sao Vincente

Street dogs here too. There are so many of them on Sao Vincente but they look very peaceful. They do not even fight for food between each other. People here coexist nicely with these poor creatures. They can’t help but do not mind to live side by side with them.


Outside Mindelo houses shrink and remind me more than a box than a house. And how would you call a cube 8×3 meters? Still, life here goes in its slow and peaceful order: children are playing, chicken and goats wandering around, sheets are drying on a rope.

Rains in Cabo Verde are rare. But heavy!

Before arrival to Cabo Verdes I read in the internet that this is dry country,which population has problems with water supplies.  The islands greeted us with 3 days of heavy rains…

Regard for bad weather – rainbow!

Even now the top of the Mount Verde is covered with thunderstorm cloud. It is just 600 m high. Can’t be compared to 2000 m peaks of Sao Antao or volcano of Fogo. But it reminds me Table Mountain much. That I also didn’t climb due to bad weather by the way.

Mount Verde

Today we leave beautiful  Cabo Verde and head for our last crossing to Brazil. But I hope once I will reach these hospitable shores again.