I've posted a bunch of pictures from the Cabo Verde and Lisbon parts of our trip (the only parts Ian was with me on) here: http://picasaweb.google.com/nilact/CABOVERDE12010#. Yes, I agree, 351 pictures are too many, but they've gone through their first culling and are significantly down from the 809 that Ian left me with. I've spent a couple hours today starting on the captions, but I know you loyal readers are itching for some stories, so I decided to share things now, finished or not. I will continue over the next day or so identifying what you're seeing, and will probably reduce the numbers of photos as well.
I tried to write a normal blog entry this morning, but I've had a difficult time figuring out how to get started. The thing is, I had a fantastic trip, and a lot of it was due, I think, to the fact that I was living primarily experientially and moment-to-moment, instead of primarily mentally and analytically. We effortlessly did the thing that was in front of us, without worrying about anything, really. And so everything worked out—we saw what we wanted to see, we slept when we could, we asked advice when we needed to, we ate at restaurants we liked, happened upon live music in two places. We sent postcards, we shopped for food, we spoke to people in English and Portuguese and even a smattering of French. We took ferries and ate the Cabo Verdean national dish, cachupa, a savory mix of hominy and beans. We hired a guide for a day, we visited markets, we used an internet café, and missed out on espressos because the power went out in town right after the beans were ground. People bought tickets for us when they were worried we'd miss the boat, they suggested lodging, and gave us fresh bread, with crisp crust and moist, hot interior, so recently out of the oven it almost burned my hands.
We hiked and hiked and hiked and hiked, up steep inclines and down even steeper ones, and for six miles along a riverside. We blistered our toes and exhausted our calves so that they ached—sharply—for several days after. We entertainingly met people—both other travelers, and locals—over and over again, on the ferry and in the aluguer, and then again in town, walking from a bar to the hotel. Climbing down a mountainside and at the next table in the Senegalese restaurant. On our plane, then in our hotel, or simply walking around.
People were happy. They drove carefully. They had reasonable, set prices for things and did not try to gouge foreigners. They worked hard, and worked out—we saw joggers everywhere we went, jogging on the roads we considered to be difficult hikes. The kids went to school, and practiced their language skills on us, not their begging skills. Cabo Verde is a country of extreme geography, and perhaps people don't have the energy left over to stress out about things the way we do. It was the perfect vacation, except for the shortness. We are definitely going back someday.
I will write stories. I have sweet ones and silly ones and strange ones to tell. But I'm finding it difficult to put into words the wonder of what we experienced.