We were curious to see San Juan again. The 2017 Hurricane season was very damaging to Puerto Rico and the repairs are on-going! Ironically, just a few days ago, a contractor managed to knock down a critical power-line and wipe out the electricity! Happily, power was restored by the time we arrived and Old Town San Juan looked as lovely as ever! The buildings had been cleaned and many were newly painted. Although lots of street signs were missing, the overhead electric wires were firmly replaced and in working order; the roofs were repaired; everything was neat and clean!
This was our last port-of-call for the 2018 HAL World Cruise! We’ll be home in a few days and must now get busy packing up for the disembarkation! Thank you for joining us on this adventure. We love to hear from you as we travel; and it is our sincere hope you find these destinations as interesting as we do!
It was the Portuguese who settled the island of Santiago in 1462. Antonio da Noli discovered the island and built a garrison in what is now Cidade Velha (Old Town) but was known then as Ribeira Grande. It was transcontinental slavery that made Ribeira Grande the second richest city in the Portuguese realm. Praia, which means “beach” was a coastal community about 9 miles away. So, when French pirates attacked Ribeira Grande in 1712, the inhabitants moved to the plateau above Praia. Today, Praia is the capital of Cape Verde.
We found Praia to be charming and more Mediterranean than African. Many of the buildings date to the Portuguese era, the sidewalks are decorated with the signature Portuguese designs, and although U.S. dollars are accepted and English is widely spoken, the music is exotic and reminds you there is an African influence.
We took the ship’s shuttle up to the plateau and spent the entire day walking around, shopping, visiting the sites and enjoying the local brew!!!!
We are now on our way across the Atlantic and will arrive at our final port-or-call, San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Thursday. The party is almost over.
Dakar was an interesting port. Situated on the Cap-Vert peninsula, it has been an important trading location—starting from Goree in the 1500s and later from the mainland when the railroad was built in 1906. Today, it is the capital of Senegal. Because we chose to visit Goree, we didn’t see much of the city itself. Our short excursion to the Pullman Hotel took us across pot-holed, dirty, sand-filled sidewalks where the locals elected to walk in the streets instead. We found the smiling local folks to be charming. If we ever return, we’ll try to spend more time exploring the city.
Meanwhile, here are photos of the lovely island of Goree:
Next, we will visit Praia on the Island of Santiago in Cape Verde.
In 1816, Captain Alexander Grant (by order of the British Colonial Office) established a military post on Banjul Island. He renamed the island St. Mary’s and named the settlement in honor of Colonial Secretary Henry Bathurst. The settlement was meant to suppress the slave trade out of Western Africa and, also, served as a trade outlet for the merchants who were ejected from Senegal when the French took over. Eventually, it became the capital of the British colony and protectorate of Gambia. With Gambia’s independence, it became the national capital. The name was changed to Banjul in 1973.
This is a very poor country. The people are very nice and look happy but we wonder what it is like to live here. Our guide, was a port guard who took the day off to earn extra money as a guide and driver. Four of us hired him for 4 hours and paid him U.S.$80.00 for his services. Not only did he perform as a guide; he was our protector as he fended off over-zealous hawkers and (no doubt) potential pickpockets!
This experience was eye-opening and thought-provoking!
In 1955, oil was discovered in Angola. But the country did not emerge from its decades long civil war until 2002. Ever since, the country has witnessed an economic boom. New construction is taking place everywhere! This is very much a place in transition. Once called “The Paris of Africa,” the current energy of entrepreneurs, engineers, financial experts, and workers from all over the world remind many of those long-ago times. Unfortunately, the boom has rocketed Luanda to “World’s Most Expensive City” status in recent years. That is why the contrast of the have to the have-nots is so stark. As a cruise ship tourist, we all had a pleasant stay. But one wonders, “What is it like to live here?”