It's nearly 10 in the morning when I go to the bakery to buy bread. I'm almost sure that I'm too late, but I decide to go anyway on the off chance that it may be a slow day.
I go the back way, which requires me to pass briefly through the yard of an old woman and her young son (grandson?) Helder. Sometimes the yard is empty, but when I approach, they are both standing outside. I greet them with the usual "bom dia."
Helder, being the friendly, amicable fellow that he is, asks me why he didn't see me at Carnaval in Estância Brás on Sunday. I say that, yes, I did go, but on Saturday, not Sunday. I ask him if it started earlier on Sunday. We're cool.
I walk by him and then come to face the old lady. "Tudo bom?" I offer with a smile. I stop and lean against the wall to give her a moment to respond. She doesn't... at least not to my greeting. Instead, seeing the bag in my hand, she tells me, "There's no more bread, you've come too late again."
She speaks as if I were haplessly convinced that I could still buy bread at this hour, and it's clearly clear to her that the reason I didn't come earlier is because I'm lazy.
Insulted and annoyed and angry as I am at that moment, Helder defuses the situation with his relentless positivity. "Now is the perfect time to get cookies, though," he says. "They'll be hot out of the oven."
Unfortunately, I'm still posted up against the wall, facing the old lady, who begins to inspect my long, flowy hair. I took extreme care to pull it away from my eyes before she saw me, but all the same she can't help herself. She tells Helder and I that it needs to be cut, and says I need to let her cut it.
I often get crap from her about my hair or about coming late for bread, but usually not at the same time.
Disgusted, I do something I've never done in Cape Verde: I spin around silently and walk away without looking back or saying another word. The entrance to the bakery is only 10 meters from this woman's house, but I walk past it without even checking for bread. Thrilled as I would be to buy the last three rolls just so I could throw them at her, I am indeed likely not to find any bread, and I don't dare risk that I might give her the satisfaction of seeing me walk out empty-handed.