“You are welcome” seems to be the slogan Cape Verdeans use for visitors like myself. Every one has said it to me at least once and with the intention to let me know that I am welcome here.
Lots to report about my experience with the Turtle Foundation and the incredible people I met there…and the incredible things I did and saw there!
The walk from the center of town to my rented room here in Mindelo is a little questionable as a solo female traveller who at first glance is clearly not from here. Mostly because the last few blocks are only residential and not well lit.
Of course during the day is fine. I feel comfortable and there are only the occasional hisses, whistles, and/or persistent men. At night it can be a little more intensified and I have chosen to make sure to get home at a reasonable hour. After some days here and building more of a feeling for the town I have felt more confident about walking alone at night. However, last night at my last block home, from behind me came, “Oi! Ola!”
I turned around to find the man who at least 6 blocks earlier had said hello to me with an added, “Woah, beautiful girl!”
It was only 8pm and I could hear some neighborly voices around the corner. Even with the solace of other people around, I quickly put my boundaries up, “Obrigado, não obrigado.”
I mean this man had obviously followed me 6 blocks and not until my last block home, where there was no one around, did he decide to try to talk to me again.
“Tudo bem! Ta bom! Eu nome Joseph. I work in the Praca.”
He said it so quickly because he had read my anxiety from his presence. He kept a distance and used his hands in a way to mime a kind of “keep calm” translation.
He was so sincere and evidently trying as hard as he could not to frighten me and kept on insisting to have a normal conversation with me.
So as I’m saying, “não, não, não,” he continues with the pleasantries…
“Onde de você? Where are you from? Quanto tempo está aqui no São Vicente? How long will you stay in São Vincente? Today is my day off. I work at the hotel, Prassa in the Praca.” And so on….
Feeling comforted by the voices around the corner, I gave in and began to answer his questions in a friendly but defeated way. Defeated by what I was learning to be simply a want to talk with me.
“America?! Ahhh YOU ARE WELCOME.”
“Ok, eu vou agora. Obrigado. Boa noite, Joseph.”
“Obrigada voce! Boa noite, Medora.”
And then he walked away.