Hello and welcome to all you newbies to The Odyssey blog. I got a little press coverage in the UK last week, so I’m guessing that some of you will be wanting to know what the hell happened to me when I arrived in Cape Verde. I’m not one to stand on ceremony, so here we go…
We passed the island of Maio (no doubt first discovered by Captain Teddlis) at around 4am and pressed on to the island of Santiago, getting there about 7am. We were accompanied into port by a bunch of curious Cape Verde fishermen and once we got there, we found a friendly police boat to tell us where we could dock. Only…they had machine guns.
At this point, I thought nothing untoward. In fact, I expected to be questioned upon our arrival, but with the backing of the Cape Verde representative in the UK, and others, all it would take was a phone call to iron any kind of misunderstanding out and send us on our way.
That didn’t happen now, did it?
Instead, we were confronted by a team of armed police officers, a crowd of rubber-necking dock workers and even a local news crew.
Here’s the video of the whole sorry journey:
The police relieved me of my wallet, my money, my mobile phone, my camera, my bags, everything.
We were then told to get off the boat. I protested, trying to explain that we were at a national border and these guys don’t have passports and that we just wanted to turn around now and go back to Dakar. But the police had guns, so we did what we were told. It was all a little crazy, but hell, I thought, as soon as they let me make my phone call as per the Geneva Convention, we’ll be back on the boat within the hour. I left my leather jacket on the boat. It was hot and I thought I’d pick it up later.
Then all eleven of us were bundled into a couple of minibuses and driven in siren-blaring procession to a police station.
The police took my belt, my shoelaces, that stupid fish necklace that I won on the Costa Cruise trivia quiz and pointed down at the cells. Now I’ve never been properly arrested before, but I have watched enough episodes of The Bill to know that they have to tell you what you’ve done wrong before they can throw you in a cell.
They wouldn’t say.
At this point, what had started out as a merry little adventure at the expense of the (obviously bored) Cape Verde police started to turn rather sinister. We were forced down into the lock up, a long narrow room with a staircase in the middle that had a locked cage door on it. Along one side of the lock up were three cells, each perhaps ten foot by ten foot, each with an incredibly smelly squat toilet in the corner.
It was now about 11am. We would be left down there all day, and my requests for Habeas Corpus, a statement of arrest, a phone call, a lawyer or even my malaria medication fell on deaf ears.
What the hell had I got myself into?
By the evening I was beginning to panic – the whole Odyssey project was in danger of going completely off track and to make matters worse, NOBODY knew where I was.
At 8pm they instructed us into one of the cells, slammed the door and locked it.
There was me, sitting with ten rather bemused (but not angry, bless them) fishermen. The cell had no beds. I used my jumper as a pillow and fell asleep on the concrete, trying not to breath through my nose.