The last thing I packed in the multiple baggages I was carrying with me to Cape Verde were the letters written by the "godparents", as well as the photos I had taken last February and which I had had developed for children so as to be able to put them in their personal photo albums.
By the time I reached Praia and the hotel I would be staying at it was already fairly late in the evening and despite being exhausted after a working day followed by the flight and airport procedures I didn't seem to feel like going to sleep, such was the pressure of having to get up early in order to drive to Calheta de São Miguel.
Knowing that I had arranged to be picked up at nine I still had time to walk around the Plateau area where the hotel was located to see if much had changed since I had last visited the island, though I realised that only a few houses overlooking the bay had been painted in vibrant colours and the corn which seemed to be taking over its steep cliff.
By 11H00 I was still sitting in the hotel lounge in front of a black and white photo of Fogo island, where similarly to what seemed to be happening now I had once learned to be patient and composed when confronted with unexpected situations such as delays or unscheduled events. I was trying hard not to start crying by telling myself that I should already know by then what African punctuality was all about.
That extreme delay would certainly affect the whole "scheme" of the local distribution of the presents to the children, but I was determined not to let it affect me any further than it already had.
There had been an apparent misunderstanding as to where the driver should have collected me but we eventually managed to get in touch with each other and by half past twelve I was driving into Calheta de São Miguel.
Upon having reached the local pension I would be staying at that evening I set myself to organising the presents for the eighty nine children so that it would be easier to hand them out and by one (amazingly enough) I had them all spread on both beds and on the floor of the bedroom ... perfectly identified with the photos and letters sent by the children's "grandparents. Knowing the children's names and faces by heart helped me immensely otherwise it would have taken me a lot longer than it actually did.
The first children started showing up at the pension and before lunch I had already been able to hand out presents to six children.
Flavio holding the presents sent to him by Rui (left) and proudly wearing his new football outfit (right).
Ariete holding the present sent to her by Ricardo (left). Holding the unwrapped present (right).
Leiziny with the presents sent to her by Adelaide (left) and proudly wearing the new trousers and T-shirt (right and underneath)
Tarine with the presents sent to her by Conceição (left) and Ana Borges (right).
Veronica Conceição with the presents sent to her by Marta (left) and Leinira with the presents I bought for her (right).
I shared my lunch with both Tarine and Leinira, who would be helping me to distribute the remaining presents. We really enjoyed the meal as we had an opportunity to discuss school issues and other aspects related to their dreams and wishes.
By two o'clock the three of us with heavy packs on our backs and bags in our arms headed towards the harbour area so as to distribute some more presents.
I had a feeling I would be slightly behind schedule, as I was told I would have to get on a public transportation the following day on my way back to the capital city and because of being Sunday I feared I would have to finish the present distribution fairly early not to run the risk of not catching the last transport ...
And yet I felt happy as with all the eventful situations the children's happiness had definitely paid off already. In my rather naïve perspective I still felt that it didn't take much to put a smile on those children's faces ...
(To be continued)