Sunday, 1 July 2012

Lazy in Lagos

We’ve been here for a couple of weeks now and I just realised it’s been a while since my last blog. Lagos is an easy place to be lazy.  It’s nice and warm, though a howling north wind seems to come in every afternoon (around siesta time 1 – 3pm) and as I’m sure I said in the last blog, the food, wine and beer are cheap and really good. We haven’t done a lot – the inevitable boat work, cleaning, fixing and replacing. Most importantly, we’ve decided to get new sails rather than mending the old ones. The main has stretched a bit and also has a couple of tears. A heavier duty cruising sail will give us a little more speed and confidence. After some thought we also decided to replace the genoa.  Actually it didn’t take that much thought when the sail-maker was able to pull it apart with his hands.  And just have a look at this: the one at the top is what an impeller should look like; the one below is the one we just took out and replaced. Amazing that we made it here, really.

We’re also going to invest in an AIS system – the advantages of a display that lets you identify other vessels and instantly track them were very clear during the crossing.

The beaches here in Lagos are quite beautiful, but once again, way more people on the beach than in the water. My first swim revealed why – it’s absolutely freezing! Not like at home where you warm up after a brisk hundred metres, more like hypothermia after two minutes.  I guess we’re still in the north Atlantic until we get past Gibraltar and into the Med proper. I’m amazed at how many people there are burning themselves to a crisp on the beach here, most of them very fair-skinned tourists from the UK. I mean serious sunburn like we used to do in Australia back in the 1960s. Youch!
There are interesting things to see as well. Lagos seems to be in competition with nearby Sagres for rights to the legacy of Henry the Navigator, the Prince who reigned during the great age of Portuguese discovery. Monuments to Henry abound, but historians claim that a lot of his reputation is based on myth, including his famous School of Navigation at Sagres (though this could be part of Lagos’ smear campaign, of course). Vasco da Gama set off from here on the voyage where he found a sea route to India, and Gil Eannes found a passage to West Africa, establishing a very lucrative slave trade. Portugal thrived because of these discoveries, exploiting its colonies in Africa, Asia and Latin America for a couple of centuries. One of the books I read described the Portuguese people as ‘slightly depressed, resigned to the fact that their days of greatness are behind them’.  The only real evidence of national depression that I can see is the traditional music, Fado, which is so melancholy it makes you cry even when you can’t understand the words.

Some nice things: lots of life in the old town in the evenings –  restaurants that spill out onto the streets, music and other performances, night markets, people dressed up just to promenade (stylish shoes are very important here for some reason, though they must be hell to walk in on the cobbles); beautiful terracotta tiles and other ceramics; interesting artworks in the public spaces; storks nesting in chimneys; views of the water from everywhere.

It's getting a bit lonely here now that nearly all the ARC boats and their crews have moved on. We farewelled Linda and Hugh aboard Wild Goose yesterday as they headed for Faro, then on to Spain. We're really missing Paddy, of course. Hopefully the new sails will be here soon, then we'll head for Gibraltar and then probably Morocco. After that, who knows?

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