With live morna music making center stage every night at local bars and nightclubs along Rua Santa Antonio, legendary singer Cesária Évora’s birthplace of Mindelo has earned a solid reputation as Cape Verde’s liveliest city and unofficial cultural capital; with a population of 70,000 (the majority of the island’s 92,000 people), Mindelo is the nation’s second largest city. Evenings are for enjoying morna, the country’s popular music genre, and for people-watching along the Rua Lisboa, while days can be spent kite surfing along the archipelago or fishing for giant blue marlin.
On our cultural tour of the city we visited the handicraft museum in the historic center and walked by the Torre de Belém – a quarter-size replica of the original tower in the river in Lisbon — (which houses a maritime museum). Our walk also included visits to the vegetable and fish and markets, where at the latter we were able to watch the local fishermen delivering their daily catch. The highlight of the tour was a specially arranged visit to the workshop of a local guitar maker, Luis Baptista, to learn about the traditional methods still employed in making stringed instruments; afterwards, we got to hear some Cape Verdean music performed by Luis Baptista and some friends in his atelier. After the tour we had a delicious lunch at La Pergola focused on local cuisine and local fish, with an order of chachupa (the Cape Verdean slow-cooked stew of hominy, beans, cassava, sweet potato, and fish or meat). We also had an appetizer of another local favorite, goat cheese (sometimes served with fresh papaya and then known as Romeo and Julieta). We also had a tasting of the local grogue and ponche. Grogue is Cape Verde’s national drink, distilled from sugar cane. While most production takes place on Santiago and Santo Antão, the drink can be enjoyed across the islands. Grogue is used as a base in various medicines and in some versions of the caipirinha (a cocktail very popular in Brazil). Ponche is a local Cape Verdean preparation (comparable to a similar product in Madeira) that is a combination of grogue (rum) diluted with the addition of molasses (and lime), lowering the alcohol content.
Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.