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Pete Martin ¦ Transformational Journeys

Remote Life: The Rabalodos of Cape Verde

CAPE VERDE | Friday, 2 March 2018 | Views [211]

2016 05 11 Rabalodos, Santiago, Cape Verde (2)

2016 05 11 Rabalodos, Santiago, Cape Verde (2)

Cape Verde has ten islands in all, nine of which are populated, and each with very different characteristics. I could easily island hop; Fogo with its volcano and wine is next door, but regrettably I have arrived too late for major plans but at least I have a guide for Santiago Island.

After the wonderful market of Assamada, we continue to the east coast of the island. On a hillside above the ocean lives a small isolated community called the Rabalados. The tribe do not invite visitors but if any arrive they are welcomed. A young, thin woman holds her baby on her hip (not on her back as is usual across Africa) and directs me into a bland concrete building. Inside is a display of their arts and crafts. One wall has numerous pictures drawn by the woman. Most contain simple sketches of stick people with fish tails for legs. I give her an encouraging acknowledgment of her artistic skills and in return she makes it clear to my guide, in Creole, that that we are free to wander around the small village.

It’s not much of a welcome and I have no information about these people. It seems the tribe is isolated by choice, deciding to live away from the nearby town in neat rows of straw huts. The two huts at each end are for communal cooking and behind the huts are the sties for their pigs. Dogs and goats wander aimlessly as we do. There are no men here, all either fishing or working the nearby fields. The young women (and one old one) and a few boys sit holding babies on the floor with their backs against a wall remaining in the shade. None look happy.

I have so many questions. Such as where do they have their children, here or in a local hospital? How do they meet their partners when it’s such a small community? Where do they buy their livestock from if they don’t interact? But there are no answers today.

My guide feels fine strolling around but I feel intrusive. When I say that we should go he suggests that I should leave some money. As the young woman who welcomed us in is now breast feeding, I offer it to the old women. She swats the money away and insists I give it to the young one. It’s a bewildering tribe.

On the way out, a young boy is playing joyfully with two sticks and an old tire. A man with a long wooden fishing rod and a bag full of fish is returning to camp too. He looks proud and joyful. Both are in total contrast to the miserable, bored females.

Tags: cape verde, isolation, remote tribes

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