Sunday, May 08, 2016

Traveling on

This is Ian, writing a last post for The Dilettante Traveler.
Calin passed away on February 9, 2016. 

Yesterday, May 7, a memorial service was held in Calin's honor. Thank you to the many who attended and thanks also to all who sent their wishes or were otherwise here in spirit. Apologies to any who didn't get notified of the event.

Calin was always fascinated by celestial events and thus is seems particularly appropriate to close out this blog with a photo of yesterday's spectacular sunset and the northern lights that followed in the night. I think it's fair to say that Calin is smiling down on us from whichever part of this universe or the next that she has traveled on to.

Goodbye Calin

Monday, May 19, 2014


My computer is back from the shop, and I am FINALLY getting a chance to go through my several billion photographs from Cabo Verde. For your viewing enjoyment today, please find three pictures of octopi in the
lagoa at Juncalinho on São Nicolau. The quality is not great on all of these, but the octopi are AWESOME.

Climbing out of the crystal-clear water. 

Resting comfortably in the crystal-clear water.

This one climbed out to have a look back at us. They were very, very sinewy. 

Monday, May 05, 2014

Sneak Peek

Those of you waiting with bated breath for more pictures are recommended to begin breathing STAT. I've just dropped off my laptop for much needed repair and upgrade (don't worry, all 2400 pictures are saved in two other places), and it'll be in the shop for 7-10 days.

In the meantime, aren't these some little cuties! This was taken in Vila da Ribeira Grande. They asked me to :-)

one-fingered on my phone

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


one-fingered on my phone

3rd Leg Completed!

BA lounge, robot cappuccino, Schweppes Bitter Lemon, biscuits, savory dishes, view of planes.

Yesterday in Lisbon was a good transition day--insane numbers of people, but the native language was still Portuguese. We stayed in a mod hotel in Baixa, close to the train, the center of town, restaurants, and two tile stores that we visited.

We took the train to Cascaís, the end of the line, to do some recon for Mom and Marsh, who are going to be staying there for several weeks at the end the summer (they'll love it; I'm not sure they'll come back), stopping in Belém for our breakfast pastéis, and eating lunch (the plate of the day, which included green pea soup, delicious braised pork loin, and a miniature mousse) on a romantic arched balcony overlooking the beach in the small cove.

We were dizzy and goofy with exhaustion by this time, and back at our hotel found that our room was ready and our bags had been carried up for us. I was particularly grateful for this because they are quite heavy (lots of grogue), and utterly filthy. I hadn't realized what vagrants we looked like until we had hauled ourselves into the dim, tony interior of the hotel lobby that morning. We laughed with the tiny young woman behind the desk about moving our belongings--the hotel is not large, and does not seem have a cart. Our room did end up being the absolute closest one to the elevator, however ;-).

After coma-like naps, we hauled ourselves back out into the teeming rush-hour streets of Lisbon to shop for tiles for our upcoming Orcas home, thus transitioning a little more into real life. We didn't buy any, but we chose an option we like a lot, and I'll buy the appropriate number when I go to visit Mom and Marsh in September.

We ate dinner--choriço grilled in a clay brazier over an exuberant grain-alcohol flame; olives; grilled goat-cheese sandwiches drizzled with honey; open-faced prosciutto (it was a very porky day) and cheese toasts; and cold draught beer served in terra cotta tumblers beaded with condensation--sitting in an open window on a narrow street near our hotel. It was a lot of salt, meat, and cheese, and it was delicious.

Glasses of port back in the hotel finished us for the night. We slept, arose, and got back on a plane.

Next stop: HOME.

one-fingered on my phone

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

NOW We Have Completed Our Second Leg

Pastéis de Belém for breakfast! Crispy, creamy, perfectly not too sweet, and still warm from the oven, since 1837! Yum!

one-fingered on my phone

Monday, April 28, 2014


We've been here is Sal enough hours, and played enough cribbage, and drunk enough ponche, and stayed up long enough past our bedtimes, that, when I took this picture, I thought we'd completed another leg of our journey. We have not. It's going to be a long road home.

one-fingered on my phone

On Our Way

First leg of our journey: CHECK.

We have landed in Sal, eaten some sandwiches, and I'm about to have a meia de leite, and Ian is deciding between grogue and a coffee himself. I would fall asleep with a grogue, and I need to save that for our next flight, on TAP to Lisbon, leaving at midnight.


one-fingered on my phone

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Rest of the Last Hike

Today was a classic Cabo Verde day through and through. We began, as you know, by hiking up a tall, steep, hot, dry, and dusty mountainside--with Ian in his optimistic role of believing we were almost to the top from less than halfway up, and me (the realist) knowing we were somewhere not yet at the top, and likely far from it, but refusing to make any statements other than yes, indeed, I thought we should ration our water.

We ate our yogurts at 2000 feet where we stopped to calm our hammering hearts and take a picture, then continued to climb up maybe another 200 feet over the next several minutes, to where we came over the saddle between peaks into a broad, high plain, with an asphalt road winding gently down to Tarrafal on the coast.

Soon after entering the plain, drenched in sweat, I realized that I was hovering on the edge of a heat-related crisis. I began to feel dizzy, and I had a teeny hint of a headache. We paused near a low stone walk and I sat down and poured about a tablespoon of water into the crown of my hat to start cooling my head, and shrugged off my day pack so the breeze could begin to dry my back. Ian went off down the gentle slope and into one of the few buildings across the road, several hundred feet away, and I worked on chilling out.

We had attempted to hike a circuit of Monte Gordo, São Nicolau's highest peak and most vaunted "must do" hike, which includes a national park with various solicitously cared-for trees, and views of other islands on clear days, but we could not find a single aluguer to take us in that direction, because everyone on the island was going to a huge festa in a town just behind Vila (and up about 1000 feet), which was in the opposite direction. To go on foot would mean repeating our first crushing hike up the ribeira, which was not going to happen.

After about an hour of waiting for a ride and asking various drivers to take us, we decided instead to complete the remaining 2/3 of our attempt from yesterday, which involved our hike up to the plain, a short traverse across the high, yellow fields, and then a steep descent down into the valley where the festa was going on, celebrating the last day of the week-long post-Easter celebrations. The calendar for today included some sort of horse event scheduled for 3 pm, followed by a bike race and a foot race from the airstrip to the village (maybe 5K), and then some boxing. We thought we could make it in time for the horse event, and then walk home (our familiar trip down the same road as yesterday's 1/3 of the hike), ready to flag down an aluguer if one was heading back to Vila.

At my recovery on the high plateau, Ian soon returned with cold Sprites. As we were drinking them and appreciating the pastoral views of distant cows and goats, an aluguer stopped on the road near us. I heard a voice say "touristas!", and then about a half dozen young men, dressed to the nines in fancy colored pants, their hair slicked back, joking and pushing each other around--clearly in high spirits--asked the way to the festa. We laughed with them and pointed to the track over the saddle that we were going to take ourselves, and off they hurried into the sere wilderness. Only in Cabo Verde is that how you get to a party.

We arrived at the festa on rubbery legs after a decline as steep as our climb had been, and began to ask around for the horses. No one really seemed to know, making vague gestures and indicating vague times. We wandered, looking for the food area, or the bar area, or the toilet area, and eventually found a bar with a bit of shade under a thorn tree, and the only other white people around. They were French but spoke English and Portuguese well, and like us, were completely baffled by what was happening, and where, and when, but then we realized that no one seemed to know.

We had some beverages out under the tree and shared stories (they were 4 months into a 5-month trip to mostly Lusophone countries), then Ian and the woman went in to return bottles and ask for food, as she had heard that traditional stew was going to be available. The bar owner told her that his wife had made some stew for the day, and a guy at the bar was sent to lead us to the owner's house, where lots of people were coming and going, and the wife pulled out bowls and spoons and served us large portions of goat cooked with green banana, cassava and potato, and would accept nothing in return.

Leaving the French couple back at the bar, Ian and I eventually found the horse event, which consisted solely of 8 horses being ridden back and forth, and around, the local soccer field at varying velocities of gallop. Not racing, just running back and forth.

After the riding demonstration, the riders all went back up the street toward what came to be clear was the "center" of festivities, with a giant speaker blaring Kriolu pop music. People milling in the street were suddenly cleared away and a red and black striped plastic ribbon was hurriedly held across the road, and moments later the winner of the bicycle race broke through. About 30 seconds after that, the second and only other cyclist, the loser, crossed the line, and the street filled again. We never saw a runner.

We took our leave of our French friends, who wanted to stay for the boxing, and began walking back toward Vila da Ribeira Brava and home, pausing at the edge of town to buy, for about 7 cents, two more frozen plastic baggie fresquihas, these of a tart and delicious tamarind juice.

We flagged down a pick-up aluguer at the top of the steep and winding descent back into town, and rode home in cooling, breezy style on benches in the bed.

There is no place even remotely like this, anywhere else on earth. I recommend Cabo Verde to everyone, and I hope you all stay away :-)

Tomorrow afternoon back to Sal, then the red eye to Lisbon, a day there, and back in Seattle Wednesday night. What a trip!!!

one-fingered on my phone

Last Day's Hike

Not easy. We started at the far end of that town, near sea level. We're at 2000 feet, not quite to the peak of our first hill. We are definitely getting our money's worth!

one-fingered on my phone