Impressions in January. 1.

I’m unpacking my backpack, bringing out its contents and placing them on the bed.

Clothes, electronics, footwear.

There are a bunch of folded-up pieces of paper. I unfold them to see what they’re about.

One of them has “CAPE VERDE” written in bold emphatic letters, across it with a pen.

This piece of paper was taped to the wall of my room in Berlin.

December was weird.

I was just submerged in this cloud of anxiety and uncertainty and discomfort and annoyance and frustration.

I would lie on my bed, wallowing in this mire of emotional turmoil, and every now and then an idea would occur to me. I would get out a sheet of paper and write the idea across it, in bold insistent strokes.

I would then tape the piece of paper to the wall opposite my bed, looking up to it as a strident message clamouring out at me.

These ideas screaming at me from the wall were the Saviours which were going to jolt me out of my indecisive circles of self-beration, and impel me towards a decision about my next steps.

Before the “CAPE VERDE” paper, I had one that said “MADAGASCAR”.

Or was it really one before the other? I think at some point I had both sheets of paper taped to the wall.

In the end, “CAPE VERDE” remained on the wall while I took “MADAGASCAR” down.

I got to Sal island this morning. Sal island, Cape Verde.

A taxi from the airport brought me here into Espargos.

The taxi cruised out of the airport and onto the highway, its windows ushering in the relieving rays of warm afternoon sun that did not exist in Berlin. There was a song playing on the radio. I liked the song, but I didn’t know enough to identify it. I just knew it was interesting music that had to be indigenous to Cape Verde.

Right now I’m in a white two-storey building called Casa Varela– I paid for a room here.

I’m on the first floor. The room looks okay, it has some space. And there’s this interesting-looking white lounge chair close to the door. I spread some of my clothes across it.

There’s another room close by, on the same floor. A little further, there’s a shared bathroom with a bathtub in it.

I recently saw a lady walk out of the bathroom and into her room. Her skin looked very dark and shiny. I’m still getting used to being surrounded by so many people with such dark skin. I was surrounded by very few dark-skinned people in Berlin.

Looking through the window, the buildings around look strange. They all have flat tops. They are all generally like cuboids of different heights, lined along the road.

Coming straight from Berlin, this is a marked difference in architecture. In Germany I got used to walking along their large, grey marble buildings styled in Greek Revival architecture, and looking up ahead to see interesting attic windows peeking out of Dutch gable roofs.

Oh and yes, the streaks of ever-present patina.

Here things are different. It feels like you could run across the roofs of a line of buildings- climbing over hand-railings and dodging clothes-lines and flower pots, while you jump between rooftops. The building tops are generally that flat.

I’m taking time to sort out my things, generally soaking in the ambience of this new environment.

The flight from Berlin had a layover at Lisbon – Aeroporto de Lisboa. As I walked through the hallways, trying to find the check-in counter for the flight to Cape Verde, I saw a counter that had “MADAGASCAR” written above it. There was a man at the counter, presenting his travel documents. He was a tall black man, and he had a heavy head of long dreadlocks. They looked like some of them reached down to his waist.

I kept walking.

That could have been my queue.


Decisions and stuff.

Lisbon was interesting. I was there for like twelve hours, waiting for the Cape Verde flight. I spent the time walking around and making acquaintances. I met this guy from Mozambique, Ahby. He had just rounded up what I think was a seminary posting in Cape Verde. He spent a year or so (maybe longer), on the island of Boa Vista I think.

I spent time generally asking him questions about Cape Verde- trying to inform myself to an extent at least, because I knew next to nothing about the country I was headed.

I just got back to Casa Varela. I went on a quick trip to get some food, and use the internet. There’s a town square about two minutes away that has free WiFi. I think that is super cool. I don’t have a SIM card or anything here yet, and so it’s really helpful to have access to free municipal WiFi.

I’m talking with the building supervisor – his name is Nilton. He pronounces it “Nil-tonne”. I think that’s a bit strange. He tells me that the woman who owns the building just stopped by. She took a look at my room and decided that I should be moved to the topmost floor. I say okay.

He escorts me to my room, and we move my stuff up the stairs- my clothes, shoes, electronics, skateboard.

I stop to look around as we get to the second floor.

Oh okay, this is definitely an upgrade.

The new room has an adjoining rooftop balcony which has an interesting view of the streets and buildings around.


We move my stuff into the new room. It has its own bathroom with a shower and a small water heating unit. I’m excited about the new space. I thank Nilton, and he heads back downstairs.

I got some sliced bread from the grocery store. Along with some margarine, some juice, and this interesting brown sweet Cape Verdean candy thing that I’m eating for the first time. It’s lumpy, chunky and brittle. You break chunks of it into your mouth, and then chew. I like it.

From the balcony I have an even clearer view of the cuboidal buildings around and their flat rooftops.

And the sun – Oh the sun.

Berlin was very interesting, but the later it got in the year, the duller and greyer and more sun-starved the city became. I would walk city block after city block, just chasing after the elusive sun as it mockingly drifted away from me, sneaking behind the tall buildings that populated the city skyline.

The sunlight here is definitely a welcome introduction.

Image: My luggage, on my way out of the apartment in Berlin.

Some interesting Cape Verdean music. This could very well have been the song that was playing in the taxi. I just don’t know now.

Circumventing a Gatekeeper/ All Hail Billy Boy.

You want Cafe?

I nod. Weakly. Very weakly.

He dips a container into the pot of Senegalese Cafe Touba brewing over the fire and fills my cup.

I begin to sip on the invigorating coffee. Swirling around me are guttural Senegalese greetings and the sounds of happy handshakes and excited salutes.

I am hungry.

I have had one piece of bread, but it only seems to have exacerbated the aggressiveness of my hunger. I stare longingly at the pile of loaves at the corner, being guarded by the Senegalese man who just refilled my cup.

He is very generous with the coffee. He is always asking me if I want some more.

Mon ami!! You want Cafe? Cafe? More Cafe?

He is not as generous with the bread. I can literally feel his face being drawn closer and closer to a complete frown whenever the supply of bread is diminished by a considerable amount.

Jesus Christ I am hungry.

A few feet to my left, some members of this Senegalese Islamic sect are dancing around in a circle, beating their drums and singing very loudly.

I felt frightened the first time I head them sing. Their voices were so loud. Screaming on top of their voices and wildly waving their long fat dreadlocks in the air. Shouting ardently into the night.

One of their members freshly arrives, and joins the meeting. He is talking with a lot of self-assurance, shaking hands and smiling and laughing.

In my understanding, genuine self-assurance and confidence comes a lot more naturally when your life is going well. This guy’s life is definitely going well. 

I am here with my head bowed, wincing under the crushing pain of the frustrations I am encountering in my training of some Artificial Intelligence models on Wildlife Conservation historical data to identify insights which could prove valuable to the managers of the Spanish Biodiversity NGO on the island.

For some reason they were persuaded to entrust me with their money and historical data on endangered sea turtles.

I am in trouble. I am in fucking trouble. I have collected money but the AI models are misbehaving. They are not working the way they should work.

Ah. I am in soup. I am finished. I am completely finished.

Mister Confident walks over to the gatekeeper of the coffee and bread.

A cup is filled with steaming Cafe Touba.

Mister self-assured reaches out his hand and grabs a hold of two pieces of bread from the pile.







I am screaming in my head.


I look at the gatekeeper’s face. He is smiling and exchanging words with Mister Confident.

My hunger begins to boil even more belligerently.

I need another loaf of bread.

Jesus Christ I need another loaf.

Mister Confident finishes exchanging greetings and goes to join the celebration.

As he walks away, I can feel my energy diminish. My propensity to act on the unbearable extent of my hunger is apparently, directly proportional to proximity with Mister Confident.

As he walks away, my welling assertiveness ebbs. Now I am left with no externally perceptible dissatisfaction. Just the gnashing agony of internal hunger.


The gatekeeper is frowning again. The loaves look so far away now. So distant. So out of reach. Oh my God.

I keep sipping on the coffee, inhaling the aroma as fully as I can, hoping that at least is doing something to assuage my tempestuous hunger.

I keep looking around glumly. The Senegalese chants sound like something from a dream. The smiles and Wolof chatter bouncing about in the air around me all feel like hallucinations.

The one real voice in my head right now, is that of impatient, menacing, inconsiderately vociferous hunger.

Ah. I am dead. I am dead. I am completely dead. I am finished.

In the midst of this delirious surreality, I hear a familiar voice.

Who is that?

I turn around.

Is that Billy Boy?

Is that Billy Boy?

Ah it is Billy Boy!

His gaze connects with mine. A smile spreads out on his face.

Jesus Christ I am so happy to see you Billy Boy. I am so happy to see you.


Memories of our interactions come to the forefront of my mind and infuse me with a feeling of warmth very different from what the fire was providing.

Having coffee in the middle of the island at Espargos, with me marvelling and the astoundingly chasmic language barrier that existed between us.

Hanging out at “Chillout”- an interesting restaurant at Santa Maria- a multi-cultural hub at the southern end of the island.

We shake hands and hug and smile and laugh.

He walks over to the gatekeeper, smiling and laughing and exchanging greetings with him in Wolof.

I like this guy so much. He wears these very interesting trousers that involve a combination of Denim and brightly coloured traditional Senegalese attire. His neck is usually full of very heavy looking Senegalese bead necklaces. He walks with an extremely appealing bounce, stylishly favouring one leg as he cooly drifts through space. I like this guy so much.

A cup is filled with steaming Cafe Touba.

Billy Boy reaches out his hand and grabs a hold of two pieces of bread from the pile.



Two pieces. Of bread.

Billy Boy. Is taking two.

The gatekeeper is immersed in exciting conversation with him.

The loaves feel within reach once again. The capable assertiveness is back to express the clamorous disgruntlement of my rumbling hunger.

Psychological electricity is flowing from Billy Boy right now. This guy’s magnetic field of relievingly reliable self-assuredness is inducing some serious electrical charge in me right now.

I order my right hand to move in the direction of the loaves.

It obeys.

Good. Very good. Very very good.

I can feel the loves in my hand. Jesus they feel so soft. And there is margarine, Jesus Christ. I can almost taste it already.

My hand grabs a hold of one.

Extends that hold to two.

Three? Three loaves Mayowa?

My hand is corresponding with my head.

Three? Three loaves?

Look at you. Look at your big head. Three loaves. Three loaves. In addition to the one you’ve already had.

At someone else’s expense.

You better get back to your apartment and continue grappling with your bellicose AI models. You better go figure out how to finish training your models so you can obtain the second instalment of your consultancy fee from the Spanish Biodiversity NGO, and then you can buy as many loaves as you want.

Okay. Okay. Two loaves it is. Two loaves it is.

The hand is back. Two loaves richer. Alright. This is good. This is very good.

I think the gatekeeper saw me from the corner of his eye. I think I see a slight frown. I think I see it. I’m not quite sure. He is still smiling excitedly with Billy Boy. I’m not sure. I am not really sure.

One loaf is in my mouth already.

Ah! Such relish, Jesus. Ah!

All hail Billy Boy.

All hail Billy Boy the dependable inducer of electrical charge.

All hail Billy Boy the undepletable watershed of self-assurance.

I keep munching voraciously.

All hail Billy Boy.

All hail Billy freaking Boy.

Ah! My body feels relieved of tenseness. The unnerving stress of hunger-induced focus loosens its grip on my consciousness.

Ah! My body feels so calm all of a sudden.

Now I am able to feel the cool breeze of the night.

Hm, I think there are stars in the sky.

Ah, this Senegalese coffee tastes so good.

Hm, now the smiles on the faces of the Senegalese guys at the meeting suddenly feels like a language that makes meaning to me. Now their smiles seem to make sense.

All hail Billy boy.

All hail Billy freaking Boy.