November 2000 Porto Grande, São Vicente, Cap Verde
I'm moored to an old ferry. It belongs to Kai Grosman, a German who runs a kind
of mini marina (here). and have free (access to) water taxi and a lot of other
things, for instance laundry facilities(/services). The ferry looks like, and
probably is, one of the booze cruise ferries that sailed Flensburg Fjord in the
1970's. He is a ship's electrician and has a mechanic employed. Besides boats
they do all sorts of repairs and they are a big help in general.
Kai's ferry at Cap Verde
Cap Verde is totally different from all other places I have been to on this
journey. People speak creole here, which is partly Portuguese. The majority of
the population is black and unbelievably many people live in poverty. Here are
beggars in large numbers and you experience poverty, street vendors selling
matches, postcards and chewing gum in a first hand attempt to survive. It
actually seems as if not much has changed since the colonial period, and most
things are in (a state of) disrepair. A lot of the beggars are kids. You are
exposed to many "tricks", this one's sweet though: A small boy of 8-9 years of
age comes to me. Their clothes are often in rags, and this kid's clothing looked
even worse. He takes off his little dirty cap and asks if I want to buy it. At
this moment I'm supposed to feel sorry for him: "No little buddy, you just hang
on to that. Here's a little money for you...."
I think most of us would want to help others in need. But you have to bear in
mind that it is impossible to help everybody. And the problem with the kids - as
the pilotbooks will tell you - is that in the past all yachties gave them money.
So nowadays they almost seem to think that you must give. That they are entitled
to it. And they are not returning to their mothers with the money. Instead you
see them buying candy etc.
I always give money to disabled people, physically as well as mentally, who you
see everywhere. The state provides no disability pensions. It is simply a
problem for the families to deal with. Until very late at night you see women
street traders, selling matches, chewing gum, postcards and other bits and bobs.
I feel sorry for these people. They sit on the sidewalk with their babies and
small children and try to survive. They ought to be at home having a nice time,
and the kids in their beds. I always buy from these street traders. Then I have
something to give away.
A naked boy, Cap Verde
Beggars are everywhere, and you get used to them. But the "shit heads",
intoxicated or just plain stupid, who often chase away the kids "for our sake"
to stop them from bothering us, often end up being a pain in the neck much worse
than the kids. They can hang around for hours and often feel aggrieved when you
finally lose your patience. I'm not here to entertain shit heads. They are going
to experience problems with the next generation. Many kids are trying their luck
pickpocketing, and there have been some reports of assaults on tourists.