Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Cape Verde: Cesaria Evora and Petit Pays

I am currently in Praia, the capital of Cape Verde, a small island nation and former Portuguese colony off the West African Coast. Senegal and Mauritania are it's closest neighbors. It has just over half a million people spread across approximately 10 islands with a population mix of Portuguese and various African peoples speaking Portuguese and Criollo.  Praia is a pretty little city of about 125,000 which has attractive Portuguese-style buildings, very clean streets, a central square and an entire pedestrian walking zone with cars denied access.  Such zones are common in Europe but it is the first one I've seen in Africa.

Cape Verde has long been a desirable tourist destination for the Portuguese with its European market now expanding.  The Hilton Hotel chain recently broke ground for a resort on Sal Island.  The country has a moderate, semi-arid climate with gorgeous flowers and palms as indicated in the following picture which I took at my hotel in Praia.

Hotel Pestana Tropico in Praia

Here is a map followed by several information links on the country:

Cape Verde with Praia, its capital

 I have wanted to visit Cape Verde for at least 20 years, every since I first heard Cesaria Evora's haunting song Petit Pays (little country).  Her melancholic voice and beautiful rhythms immediately caught my ear and she has become one of favorites.  I own a couple of her CD's and I love the mood her music sets. Before passing away a couple of years ago she became an icon in the genre of Edith Piaf, often with booze or cigarettes in hand while she performed.  She sang primarily in her native Criollo language, but also in Portuguese and French.  Although I'm not fond of smoke and boozed-filled rooms, much of the music that comes out of this milieu is outstanding and I especially like it late at night.  If you haven't heard Cesaria before, listen to the following and I'm sure you will be smitten too. The third link contains a fantastic instrumental introduction to an entire Erova concert.

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