Sunday, September 6, 2015

Cape Verde - Islands of the Atlantic

Our last visit before returning to the U.S. was to Cape Verde, a country of 10 islands about 1.5 hours (by plane) off of the coast of West Africa. It is about a 4 hour airplane ride from Portugal, which is the route that we took, right after finishing our visit to Portugal.  One of the poorest countries in the Europe Area, it has many Portuguese speaking, humble members where the Church is growing quite quickly.  Three stakes have been created in the past 4 years, there are now 2 other districts also organized.  We have two Self-Reliance Service managers in this country, Mendonça who serves the southern islands and James who serves the northern islands.  This visit was to both of them.

We arrived in Praia, Cape Verde late in the evening of August 18 and went straight to our hotel.  It was in a beautiful setting on the coast of the largest island of the 10, Santiago.  The next two days we spent with Mendonça, visiting SR groups and leaders in the Praia stake.  We also spent the first day, mostly visiting with Mendonça and James (who came form the São Vicente island) about the role of Self-Reliance Managers, including their specific role with the PEF loan program.  We also had Elder and Sister Porter, full-time SRS missionaries with us throughout this visit.

On Friday, the 21st, we went with James to the Island of Sal, where we implemented the Self-Reliance initiative that weekend.  This included several meetings with the District President, training of the district and branch councils of the three branches on the island. On Sunday we had our first My Path Devotional and 5 self-reliance groups were formed.  Once again, we met with the District President on Monday morning before leaving the city.  On the way to the airport, we went through the tourist city of Santa Maria, where we had lunch and saw the growing tourism business of that island.

Due to storms, air flights were delayed throughout the day.  Ours was no exception, as we were told that there are only three airplanes that serve the inter-island air traffic.  We had to wait for our plane to take an earlier flight to the island of Santiago and then to return to pick us up.  Our 6:15 pm flight finally left well after midnight, allowing us to arrive in our hotel at about 2:00 am.

The next day we went with Mendonça and Elder Porter to the district that is on the other side of the island, where we saw perhaps the best self-reliance committee that I have ever visited.  We also visited with some other branch presidents further away from the district center and had a touristic drive throughout the island, seeing the manual agriculture that goes on this time of the year as the annual rains come.  We left Cape Verde that night, heading back to our home in Frankfurt, through Portugal.

The following photos show some of the sights and experiences that we had during our visit to Cape Verde:

Food highlights:  Debbie and our manager, James, sitting at a restaurant near the beach in Santa Maria, island of Sal, Cape Verde eating a tuna steak.  Next two photos are taken in Praia, island of Santiago. The first shows a dinner with a tuna steak, cooking on a rock in front of us, while we are served.  The second shows Debbie eating lobster at a reasonable price.  Seafood is easy to come by in Cape Verde!  Most of the rest of the trip we ate chicken and rice!

 Views of the islands:  First is above the main city of Praia and near the coast from our hotel:

Next are views of the island of Sal, first is from our hotel, in the main city of Espartos, the second is of some primary children with Debbie at the local branch:

The following are photos of the interior of the island of Santiago while we were visiting Assomada District on the island of Santiago.  The rainy season comes in August, the only rain of the year.  All agriculture is planted at this time in anticipation of the rain.  Much of the agriculture is planted in steep slopes with manual labor.  You can see some of this in the photos.  Since we were there during the rainy season, we saw much green, which isn't always normal.  This must be where they got the name of Cape Verde, which means Green Cape.


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