Having access to a free shuttle to Mindelo from our hotel, we had several chances to take a stroll and discover this charming city that is the cultural capital of Cape Verde . We really loved this sweet cape verdean way of life that is felt even in the streets of the city. We loved getting lost in its streets, discovering more or less attractive neighborhoods or just sit on the terrace of one of the many bars or cafes and watch the local getting on with their day. We loved the colonial colorful architecture of many large buildings, such as The Courthouse displayed below, that prouves the miscegenation and diversity of the Cape Verdean culture. Feel free to go to the Municipal Market located rua de Libertad Africa , to discover the local fruits and vegetables or even some spices. And don’t miss the African market which takes place on Saturday morning . You will find cheap and small souvenirs to buy and it is the opportunity to interact with the locals!
You can also choose to enter one of the many souvenir shops that abound the city center and hope to find the rare pearl. Do not always trust the store fronts, which can be sometimes poorly developed. We have been surprised to enter a real treasure trove, packed with numerous ebony statues, African masks and other absolutely beautiful handcrafted stuffs. It’s simple, we wanted to buy every single thing we layed eyes on, a pure delight! However, it was easy to be stopped in our enthusiasm, given the exorbitant prices of some objects. The saleswoman told us that her boss was regularly travelling to Senegal to find these little treasures. As ebony is a very beautiful material, it is also very expensive! Special mention to the statue of a warrior that litteraly had our hearts melt but cost over 1200€! So we naturally bought small bracelets and a pretty little African mask!
Finally, one last tip: we didn’t feel particularly unsafe in the city but still keep an eye out for possible scammers! We had a really weird experience with a passerby, very nice at first, who offered to help us find the contact we had for snorkeling. We got to the appointment and after waiting around and asking a few times some people for information (the guy had told us “ask for me, people know me”), this man stopped and started to talk to us in French. He had been a French teacher and kindly offered to help us find our contact. After wandering in several places without any success, we finally ended up at a hotel reception. The man quickly discussed in Portuguese with the receptionist, mentionned the name of our contact, so no worries. After a few minutes, the receptionist turned to us and asked for our passports! First believing in a misunderstanding, we tried to explain the situation but the man insisted to her, still in Portuguese, and she asked again our passports, names and attributed us a room! It was time for us to kindly thank our “guide” and turn back, with a fake tight smile. Purposeful, the guy followed us, shouting out to us for several meters before finally giving up and turn back. We ended up going back to our hotel empty-handed, not knowing if the meeting was bogus or if we had just met an opportunist.