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.