Every year about now, the Caribbean starts watching weather in western Africa, specifically the Cape Verde Islands. That’s where hurricanes are born.
It’s their worst export.
These powerful baddies form above warm ocean water. The humid air rises, creating clouds in low-pressure areas that rotate into swirling storms. In May, the average humidity in Cape Verde leaps from a winter low of 66.9 percent to nearly 70 percent. By August, it’s above 75 percent. As expected, the average daily high temperature ticks up a few degrees as well.
Storms abound and the same winds that bring the Saharan dust — looking at you, Morocco — send them our way.
The Caribbean isn’t alone in receiving these sorts of unprovoked attacks. Indonesia ships cyclones across the Indian ocean to hammer Madagascar — killing at least 205 people earlier this year. Central America sends storms clear across the Pacific, sweeping over island nations along the way. This same stretch of oceanic nowhere sends storms to southeast Asia. In Hong Kong, they raise numbered flags indicating the strength of an incoming storm. Everyone there knows what it means to “hoist the 8.”
These international incursions have been happening since before there were nations or flags.
Former US President Donald Trump — deft diplomat that he was — reportedly suggested using nuclear weapons to stop hurricanes. NOAA, by the way, said it was a terrible idea. The V.I. Source Editorial Board also condemns the idea — I assume — as the radioactive fallout would travel on the wind as that Saharan dust.
So if war isn’t the answer, let’s try peace.
The Republic of Cabo Verde, home to half a million lovely Cabo Verdeans, exports a lot of (non-radioactive) fish. They also make men’s suits, underwear, and a fair bit of footwear. But it’s unlikely anything in your refrigerator or closet has a Made In Cape Verde tag. We only get the storms.
Maybe there’s a deal to be made: You know what Cape Verde doesn’t export much of? Rum.
Oh, they like it. Verdean farmers have been making a rum-like sugarcane-based liquor called grogue since the 1400s. But as of 2019, hard liquor accounts for only 0.38 percent of the island nation’s exports. West Indians can help with that! We have an alphabet of brands. Appleton, Bacardi, Cruzan, Diplomatico, El Dorado, Flor de Caña, Goslings, Havana Club … all the way to Zacapa. The entire Caribbean basin would surely pitch in helping market grogue as the next big thing.
While cricket has waned in popularity in Cape Verde, imagine if the mighty Windies played a few test matches there.
How about music? Morna is the popular folk music of the islands. It seems to have Portuguese and Spanish roots, with jangly acoustic guitars and sighing violins leading the way. It’s a little like the roots of calypso. Perhaps a Cool Sessions Brass visit would be of interest to the Verdeans.
Honestly, whatever it takes. All we ask is that the Cape Verde region stop sending the storms.
In this time of war and strife, wouldn’t it be lovely to engage in harmony? If our two archipelagos could come to some agreement, and this time next year, no one in our region even glanced at the weather in the eastern Atlantic, wouldn’t it be a great example for our modern world?