Friday, 1 April 2016

Tarrafal, Cape Verde, Tarrafal (second day - morning) - On the way to Tarrafal; the former Tchon Bon concentration camp turned into Museum - The 25th of March 2016

Because there would be quite a few religious oriented activities and a mess and we wouldn't be able to see the children we opted top drive to Tarrafal, also because Sónia was not necessarily on the same type of mission as Noëlle and I, despite having helped us immensely with the baggage weight.

Soon after breakfast we walked through some narrow lanes where a wide variety of animal "comuters" moved about (not as hastily as the three of us) to reach the main road, where Meno would help us to get a public transport. As I passed Morgana pension, the first pension I was lodged at in 2009 (now painted in bright colours) a few of those memories surfaced. 

As we were waiting I looked around and wondered for a few moments what it would be like if I lived here until my eyes caught Maurício's smile ... and I strongly felt that despite the lack of so many things I'd be happy, I suppose. 

Never had I travelled in such a "silent" moving Hiace. It initially struck me as odd until I remembered it was Easter time and therefore music and other "endeavours" (such as love making and other such manifestations) not encouraged by the local village priest, bearing in mind the period of reflexion and reclusiveness the religious epoch called for. Local people's attitudes towards strangers and foreigners didn't change though, as we continued being very welcome wherever we went (as always).

We were fortunate enough to have Dani, the public bus driver  drop us at the former concentration camp, known as the slow death camp, and wait for us. Because he had never been there I invited him over and payed for his entrance fee, which was not in force three years ago as I visited it with Rui, Vanda, João de Barros and Rosa.

It did have a lot less to see, because the exhibition we then were able to see, which included quite a few black and white photographs taken at the time and particularly to those who were then incarcerated, was no longer there.

We had access to the barracks, the cells, the infirmary ... and a few odd spaces within the whole compound ... certainly not enough for us and any other visitors to get a thorough idea of what living (or not living) at the camp really was , were it not for a few placards here and there providing us with bits of information, that despite being particularly well organised were , in my opinion, fairly scarse.  

I couldn't help photographing some rather meaningful sentences which made me feel profoundly "ashamed" of what was done to those who dared express themselves under the Portuguese dictatorship ruling period.

As we left and looked around I felt a strong connection to all of those who despite knowing well in advance that they would be punished or put into prison if they helped the political detainees, and still did it in the name of freedom and compassion .

(To be continued)

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