Idiosyncrasies of unknown origin conjure against the possible football-culture binomial. It seems that in the modern western traveler cosmogony the world is divided in two groups separated by waterproof doors. On one side of this imaginary partition find place those brainless football lovers who eat meat, drink beer and listen to cheesy songs. Incapable of thinking to anything deeper than a corner kick, they sits just opposite from the liberal traveler who wear the kefiah
, listens solely to ethnic music, eats tofu and has never served mess. And definitely doesn’t take any interest in football, bourgeois fetish for excellence.
I usually fit better in the second group, but when big football events approach, I transform myself in one of those many slaves of the television whose only worry is about the possible lack of TV signal. Not a great problem if I am home, but all those times that a world cup has found me on the road, I have always had problems to transmit such enthusiasm to the occasional travel companions. And watching a game alone is almost worse than not watching it at all.
And the trip to Cape Verde too didn’t seem on its way
to make exception to the rule. I had met Carlo, a fellow Italian from Torino planning to settle down here on Santiago and who had convinced me to travel to Tarrafal. And he didn’t seem too football oriented either. I had been preparing him for the Champions League final, nevertheless, he had somehow managed to disappear on that specific Wednesday evening. Luckily, in developing Countries football is still patrimony of everyone and the good Gil, an emigrant from Senegal, invited me to watch the game along with his friends: a neglected room blackened by the smoke, a mattress on the floor, a small TV screen but plenty of people filling up his friend's studio
Had I been among westerners, the game would have been washed down with beer and chips. Here instead, there was senegalese te to cheer up
the reunion. If you have never tried it and some day someone offers it to you, just pretend that drinking te is against your religion, or simulate a faint, but do not accept. Contrarily to what happens for classic te, here the leaves brew over a long period in a small amount of water, then the content of the teapot
gets distilled and poured into a specifically designed tall glass and finally poured back into the teapot where more water gets added. At last, when the water has almost completely evaporated, a full cup of sugar is added to the infusion. The final result is a liquid thick and dark, characterized by a flavour so strong to recall that of a medicine for children to which extra sweetener has been necessarily added in order to render it vaguely palatable. When Liverpool scored (and all the presents apart from myself democratically exulted as much as they had previously celebrated the double Milan scoring), my fears for extra times and the consequent extra cup of te were far greater than those of a defeat.
Cape Verde had arrived as an unscheduled part of my journey. My Gran Canaria-Dakar flight had been cancelled without warning and I had found myself in the situation of having to search for an alternative solution. And Cape verde was on the way. Praia, its capital, is a city with no character of its own. It’s built on several hills (just as Rome) and doesn’t seem to possess neither the charm of European capitals, nor the unfathomable
chaos of third world ones. On the other hand, is perhaps the only capital city in the world to have the good fortune not to know congestions nor traffic lights. We took lodge in a guesthouse for expats
and I can’t avoid to make mention of the role that these people cover in contemporary African society.
White man in Africa is an alien. Foreigners were XV century missionaries and explorers, equally foreigner are contemporary adventurers, whichever the reason of their presence down here. Those neatly marked lines between good and evil, legal and illegal which we commonly use as splinter-bar in the West, merge in Africa into a single sort of grey which such expats
do not hesitate to make theirs. Whites living in the African continent belong to categories so far apart between them (morally and socially) that would never ever enter in contact neither in Europe nor in the after death. Here, instead, they mix up kept together by a certain type of skin pigmentation, and even more important than that (a black American would be welcome in the club) by the knowledge that in lack of horses, riding a donkey is still better than walking.
And thus even a poor, rootless wanderer as myself ends up at the Tropical
or in a private party in a house of diplomats surrounded by people whose company, were we in Europe, I would despise for what they are (not) and by whom I would be ignored for what I do (not) have. Everyone, good and bad, cowboys and redskins (so to speak) alike, are here to smuggle something: drug, money, minerals, ideas, good vibes
. They live in style, despise each other and pity the locals. Some try to conjugate the useful with the enjoyable, and thus you can meet a baudelairian
Portuguese, officially in Cape Verde with the noble goal to valorize local art in benefit of the Capeverdians themselves, who doesn’t hesitate to propose you the opening of a brothel to be managed jointly with him. "Because", he explained me, "here is not Europe and if a young white man wants to live well have to look around and know when to grab his chance".
And one mustn’t think that those Capeverdians admitted in the club are better then their white counterpart. Indeed, it seems that having became rich, having entered a superior caste
, erases their
identities and roots as easily as the arrival of high tide cancels a message of love written on the sand. They do not understand that the passage from level B to level A2 was possible as based on census, while the final promotion
to A1 will be never conceded to them. They destroy those solid bridges that used to link them to their people in exchange for crumbles of feint foreign friendship.
Then there is the other Cape Verde. The rural one. Here people have near to nothing and yet are ever-smiling, barefoot children play among dogs and pigs and inviting people around to some grogue
(a homebrew obtained from sugar cane) at the local bar discloses hearts and home doors to you. Tourism here, contrarily to what happens in the islands of Sal and Boavista, hasn’t yet arrived and nobody dreams of asking for money or to cheat a foreigner up. Kids maintain here their innocence and come to you solely moved by curiosity. One of them even asked me -after telling him that I had never seen before the only other white in sight right then- how was possible that we were not friends despite bearing the
same skin colour. Dignity and respect haven’t yet been supplanted by the virus of money and by parabolic antennas. But I fear near is the day when a white man… good intentions… we build a hospital… then a supermarket… welcome into the confederacy! ITALIANO
La versione italiana di questo blog la trovi sul sito Vagabondo.net
Link: Una Confederazione di Contrabbandieri
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