I jumped on a number 4 bus yesterday afternoon, before it arrived the scene was very much as one would expect in the UK, a number 10, a number 3 and two private company owned number 5s came and went.  I waited for the right bus with the extremely talented Chef from the Irish Bar (I may be slightly biased here as I am responsible, with my husband for making a success of the Irish Bar), her husband is a bus driver for the Camara rather than the private company called Amizade, so we had to wait for a number 5 that wasn’t an Amizade or as it turns out, a number 4 would do, so the Chef and her daughter could use their company bus passes.

On boarding I greet the driver with a “Boa Tarde” and a big smile, being greeted always seems to delight the drivers, gives me a kick too, hand over the correct change of 35$00 (it’s the same price for every journey, no matter where or how far you go on the same bus) and go sit on the opposite side of the aisle to my companions. It is indicated to me that I have sat on the hot side of the bus, the Chef says “sol” and points at the window, the Mindelians are experts at being in the shade where ever possible, I shrug my shoulders, smile and say “I don’t think I can actually get that much hotter than I already am” then point to the window which is wide open so I will feel the benefit of the breeze when we get going. “Ahh” says the Chef with a smile and a raise of the eyebrows to show her understanding.

The number 4 bus zooms along the Avenida Marginal, the main coast road, past the Fish Market, turns left to go past the Praca Strela and up and around past the two Enacol garages, then takes a right in to, for me, an unexplored residential area, the bus bumps along on the uneven cobbled road, cobbles not as we know them, English cobbles being smooth and rounded, Mindelo cobbles are sharp pointy black rocks, most unpleasant to walk on with thin flip flops, I can tell you.

I have also learnt my lesson previously where bumpy roads are concerned, when I decided to go on a mystery jaunt on a bus, just to see where it went, I sat at the back and soon discovered why no one else was, every bump the bus flew over I flew up in to the air my backside departing the seat by at least a foot until I managed to wedge myself in to the corner!

Anyway, I digress, out of the window of the number 4 bus I see a baby doing a John Wayne swagger in a filthy nappy in the dirt of the pavement, attempting to play with a dog, I see plenty of dogs, something of a plague in Mindelo, most dwellings are not finished or ramshackle, some young girls are dressed prettily, a shabbily dressed old man stands unsteadily to catch his breath. We arrive back at the main road and go straight at the roundabout. 

There is a shop called Stop & Shop which sells American Crunchy Peanut Butter on the left, a Caixa Bank a bit further up on the right we go past the turn off for the Monte Sossego Electra building, we turn right, go straight for maybe a mile then turn back on ourselves, there are a few shops and street sellers then we arrive in the road where the store Semedo & Semedo is, the bus turns right before we reach the store so we jump out at the next stop and walk to the store.

Above : photo of buses that were travelling alogside the port area of Mindelo. Main roads are tarmac.

I discovered Semedo & Semedo a week or so ago when I was looking for a good quality, reasonably priced large pot for making huge quantities of everyone’s favourite cachupa. Ours is the best I’ve tasted because it actually tastes of more than simply refried beans, the Chef uses fried onions and herbs to achieve this great flavour. We purchase our pot, after the shop lady has found a lid for it and the Chef has chosen a couple of large plastic bowls with handles for washing alface (lettuce) and kale (couve) and the like, I point out some dinky paper cases for fairy cakes which the Chef likes and gets 50 of. While I wait for the cashier to find the business stamp to authenticate the receipt so my accountant will accept it the Chef and her daughter explore the upstairs of the shop where I can see lots of furniture.

Finally, we are sorted, we go outside, the Chef puts the goods on the ground and we wait in the shade, I don’t think she is getting the bus back as she lives in the area but she waits with me. I get a 500$00 note out, being 5$ short of the fare, she asks her daughter if she has any change the girl replies “she is the chief” implying that it is my problem I guess, this saddens me somewhat but I don’t let it show and the Chef finds a 10$ which I swap a 5$ for. When the bus comes she grabs the pot and bowls, puts them in my arms and I run for the bus, 20 metres away

Thanks to Karen for providing blogs on Sao Vicente.