Background: My partner, Amy, & I decided a while back that we wanted to spend parts of our summers abroad, as a way to relieve the itch I had been scratching to immerse myself in another country. We decided on Greece because my niece was getting married in Santorini and took advantage of the destination wedding to extend the trip. We ultimately felt like 22 days in Greece was just enough to 1) still be financially responsible, 2) fulfill this desire and 3) test out the idea of working remotely abroad for part of the trip. We also decided we wanted to spend at least 3 days on each island, if not 4, and settled on 5 locations across the 22 days (Athens and 4 islands in the Cyclades).

greece itinerary

Our travel tradition is to always bring along a “Lonely Planet Guide” for that country

Cost & Travel Miles:  Fortunately, the majority of our trip was paid for through miles that we had accrued over the last 2 years. Two years ago, I got the coveted Chase Sapphire Reserve card, which had a generous 100,000 point sign-up bonus (worth $1,500 in travel), if you spent $4,000 in the first 3 months (the bonus has since decreased to 50,000 points). I continued to accrue miles throughout this time period, which eventually added up to a total $3,500 in miles.

Amy & I also each had Capital One Venture cards, with about $1,000 worth of miles, for a total of $4,500 that we could apply towards our travels. The total cost of the 22-day trip, including gas, car/quad rental, all flights and ferries (but not including food which we did a poor job of tracking) was $8,300. When we used our travel miles, our total out of pocket costs ended up being $3,800 (or $1,900 per person), which was a little higher than we had hoped to pay, but still pretty impressive a the grand scheme of a 22-day trip across the Atlantic. (If you have questions about travel credit cards, I have lots of thoughts, so feel free to reach out!)

Pre-Travel Prep: To fly from the US to Greece (for less than 90 days), a Visa is not required, which is great, but important to note is that, like much of Europe, travel to Greece requires that your passport be valid for at least three months beyond the intended date of departure. We had a family member get turned away at the airport because her passport expired 2 months from the departure date, which was incredibly heartbreaking for everyone. These requirements apply to both U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents.

Walking to the Temple of Apollo on the island of Naxos

Packing & Clothing: Amy and I each packed a suitcase full of clothes & shoes that qualified as our “checked bag.” I also packed an additional carry-on with things I couldn’t fit into my suitcase, which given our extensive travel itinerary (hopping from island to island, ferry to ferry, and flight to flight), I immediately regretted. I recommend bringing one checked bag and a small personal item (such as a large purse or backpack). We experienced pretty high temperatures (90 degrees Farenheit +) and weather so our clothing type wasn’t location-specific. Given the heat, flowing dresses, loose-fitting shirts and tops and comfortable shoes were the ones that we ended up wearing the most. As soon as you step outdoors in any part of the country, during the month of July, you can expect to immediately start sweating, so you want to pack comfortably for this. Nights were also warm, but more comfortable. Everywhere we stayed throughout the trip had AC (which I highly recommend looking out for when booking stay).

I had also packed a ton for the wedding, with more heels than I needed (I never wore any of them) and more sandals & formal dresses than were necessary. Your best bet would be to bring along some comfortable Birkenstocks, cute flat sandals for dressy days and nights, and a pair of comfortable sneakers. Sunglasses, a hat or two and plenty of sunblock are must-haves.

Stoa of Attalos in Athens

Exchange Rate & Credit Card Usage: The exchange rate for dollars to euros was pretty stable throughout our trip, hovering around 0.84. I found that despite Greece’s struggling economy and years of recession, because we were traveling during the height of peak season, we didn’t necessarily get the bargain we expected to get and costs were pretty similar to the US. This definitely varied from island to island (Naxos being pretty inexpensive & Santorini being the most expensive), but it all balanced out throughout the trip. I recommend setting a food/spending budget for the trip. Otherwise, things add up pretty quickly and it’s easy not to notice what could end up being a huge expense. Visa credit cards are widely accepted everywhere, so as long as you give your bank a heads up about your travels, you shouldn’t have any issues.

Our itinerary was as follows: Boston -> Athens -> Crete ->Santorini-> Naxos-> Paros-> Athens-> Boston


Athens

The Parthenon in the Acropolis in Athens

Transportation: Travel to Athens from Boston was pretty smooth and the customs process was painless. When we arrived at the airport, there was an incredibly long line to catch a taxi to where we were staying in Artemida (a village outside of Athens where the international airport is located), but despite the 100+ people ahead of us, it moved pretty quickly and we were in a cab in about 10 minutes. From the airport in Artemida, we paid about 60€ to get to Athina (most taxis are metered so the this is pretty average for the distance traveled).

Stay: We spent 3 nights in an Airbnb conveniently-located in the heart of the city, walking distance to most major sites. The Airbnb was upgraded, with all of the modern amenities. A few customs we picked up immediately were 1) put your toilet paper in the trash can and not the toilet 2) only turn the water heater on 20 minutes prior to showering and then turn it off after showering and 3) buy water at the convenience store/market rather than at the restaurants – you will save some € with this one. With the convenience of our place, which had restaurants on every corner, we settled into Athens pretty quickly. Jetlag was a problem at the start of the trip: on the first night we fell asleep around 7pm and woke up at 2am, craving a burger and went hunting for takeout in the wee hours of the morning. It took about a week for our sleep patterns to return to normal.

The Temple of Zeus in Athens

Things to do & sites to see: Here we saw the Acropolis, The Roman Agora, The National Park, The Temple of Zeus, Hadrian’s Arch, while walking around the many markets (Plaka, Monastiraki) along the way. The Acropolis, which houses the Parthenon and is Athen’s most popular site, has a very long ticket line. We were lucky to have been approached by a tour guide who had admission tickets available (20€ each), and was selling a guided tour (30€ each) for a total of 50€ per person. We jumped on the opportunity (and highly recommend a guided tour) and had a fantastic experience. We later learned that we should have purchased an admission ticket for (30€) that would give us access to all of the major historical sites in Greece. We ended up having to pay 5-7€ for each additional site we visited (about 4 more) and quickly shared the lesson with our family making their way to Athens.

Food: The food in Athens was generally pretty good. We were immediately hooked on the Greek salads, which were always refreshing in the hot Athenian sun, and were some of the best we had during the entire trip. The cost of food in Athens was relatively high and adds up pretty quickly when you include breakfast in the mix. If you can stay at a place that provides breakfast, this will help the budget. Street food is also a great (and pretty safe) way to get a taste of authentic Greek food without spending very much.

Crete

Spilia Village Villa in Crete

Transportation: From Athens, we flew to Crete (340€ for 2 tickets). We had heard and read amazing things about it and decided to give it a go even though it was off the path from the rest of our itinerary. We flew on one of those small local airlines where you pay 35€ per checked bag, with very strict weight limits.

Stay: For 5 nights, we stayed at a romantic and private villa in a tiny village of Spilia, in the northern region of Chania, which is known for its old Venetian port and divine seafood. The village was a little more remote than we expected, but we decided to take advantage of the peace & quiet (minus the millions of locusts chirping about) while there. The villa had a private pool, and all the amenities one would need, including complimentary breakfast.

Our private pool in Spilia Village

Things to do & sites to see: Given how big the island of Crete is, how far apart sites are, and the fact that the port we needed to get to for our next leg of the trip was 2 hrs away (in the region of Heraklion), we rented a car for part of our stay here. We realized that driving in Greece was slightly different than in the US: it is customary to pass cars, motor scooters, etc. in the oncoming cars lane, which can be a little dangerous. Our adventures in Crete included driving to the beach town of Falassarna, which was beautiful but with not much else to do but lounge. We also drove to Greece’s renowned Elafonisi Beach, which is known for its pink sand and crystal clear waters. To get to Elafonisi, which was 1.5 hours south of where we were staying, we woke up pretty early and made the trek through winding mountain roads (some paved, some not). We even traveled through a tunnel in the mountain that had a man manually operating a red light.

Port Town of Hania in Crete

Needless to say, this was my least favorite part of the trip. We did our best to navigate the less than ideal route, dodging large tour buses and stopping in areas where roads were too narrow for 2 cars to get through (or where I didn’t like Amy’s fast, nonchalant driving). We arrived around 10am, avoiding the flood of tourists that came in later in the afternoon, but the abnormal winds & cloudy sky made the experience pretty anti-climatic. After a couple of hours of waiting for the sun to come out, we decided to head to the port city of Hania, about 2 hours north of Elafonisi. The port was scenic, filled with restaurants & shops selling everything one can imagine.

An amazing seafood dish in Crete

Food: The food is Crete was delicious & fresh across the board. In Spilia Village, we found a wonderful restaurant overlooking the local port, where we got a plate of every type of fresh seafood they had caught that day, and some delicious grilled tuna, topped off with a nice, Cretan rose wine and the most mouth-watering, raspberry cheesecake we’ve ever had. The local wine throughout the trip did not disappoint.

Santorini

Transportation: We took a ferry from the Heraklion, Crete to Santorini. Because it was peak season on Greece’s most popular island, when we arrived at Santorini’s main port, it felt like pure chaos. Once you get off the boat, you immediately get shuffled around, with car shuttles & taxi folks asking you where you want to go and demanding an answer. When we paid our 40€ (for 2 tickets, which seemed pretty standard for the island) to get from the port to the hotel we were staying, the ticketing counter guy points to a sea of people, and says “follow my brother.”

Channeling my inner Greek goddess

We managed to follow the right person who put us in a large van cab and off we went, packed in a van like a bunch of sardines.

Stay: As I mentioned earlier, the impetus for this trip was that my niece and her fiance were getting married in Santorini. We made it to this leg of the trip and joined the family for several days worth of celebrations. For 4 nights, we stayed at a beautiful hotel in the mountains of Santorini, a 2-minute walk from the wedding hotel venue, where most of the guests were staying. Our hotel was (more) reasonably priced, and had a pool overlooking the ocean and mountains. You couldn’t have dreamed of a better view from anywhere you looked. Breakfast was included in the stay and while the food wasn’t anything memorable, wedding excitement overshadowed all else and we couldn’t complain.

Munching on sweet corn in Oia, Santorini

Things to do & sites to see: Most of our days and evenings were spent doing wedding things/hanging with family at the Rocabella Hotel, but we did manage to fit in two excursions. First, we ventured to Oia (the town at the northernmost point of the island where all postcard pictures are taken). A group of us tried to walk there from the hotel, but the sun beat down on us, and the dirt road was a bit daunting with two kids with us. After walking for over an hour, with over an hour to go, we decided to catch a bus, which took us the rest of the way for 1.5€ per person. Oia was as beautiful as you imagine it would be, but crowded. Couple huge crowds of tourists with the hot sun, and it’s very easy to expend all of your energy (and patience) in a given afternoon. The second excursion entailed a big group of us renting ATVs to do some sightseeing. We headed to Santorini’s black beach, which is lined with hip restaurants and shady umbrellas. Amy and I then decided to drive around with the ATV (along the shoreline) for a while and met up with the group in Oia to watch the sunset. We took the long route back to our hotel to avoid the tour buses and the mountainous roads as much as possible.

Our lovely bride & groom

The wedding itself was out of this world, right out of a storybook. The entire family took photoshoots, posing like professional models every chance we got, and with the background of the most memorable sunset over the endless ocean. We danced the night away, shared memories and best wishes for the couple, laughed and cried in the company of those closest to our hearts.

Food: Overall the food in Santorini was decent, but costs were higher on this island compared to any others we visited. At first we were mindful and then eventually threw our hands up and said “F**** it” (I don’t recommend the latter approach).

Naxos

Transportation: We took a short, 2-hour ferry from Santorini to Naxos. The ferry rides were pretty comfortable, smooth and safe. Because of how many people smoke in the country (and in Europe in general), we chose to sacrifice the ocean views and settle indoors during these rides.

A stunning view from the mountaintop in Naxos

Stay: For 4 nights, we stayed at a cute, centrally located hotel in Naxos, in the town of Naxos, which had a pool and included breakfast. We got upgraded to a “superior garden room” which meant a view of corn-stocks and a few tomato plants, which we just had to laugh about. The hotel was a short, 6-minute walk to the port of Naxos, which, like every Greek port, is lined with a ton of good restaurants and shops.

Things to do & sites to see: On our first full day, we decided to walk to the Port and then to the Temple of Apollo (a 20-minute walk from our hotel). The view from the hill where the temple was located was mesmerizing. There was a breeze throughout the day that provided a nice break from the unrelenting sun.

ATV riding in Naxos

We also decided to rent an ATV for 2 days so that we could explore as much of Naxos possible. We were told that the inner part of the island didn’t have well-paved roads and that we should stay along the west coast of the island. We drove up and down the shoreline and checked out a few of the beaches, which were all pristine and warm to touch. The only downside about beaches here is that you have to pay for your umbrella/chair which can range from 5-25€ per set of 2.

Food: We had one of our favorite meals of the trip in Naxos. I had a whole fried fish drizzled in lemon and olive oil, and Amy had grilled prawns with fresh sautéed vegetables. The owner’s dad was a little old man who walked around making sure everyone was content. The decor couldn’t have been more romantic and we treated ourselves to a lovely bottle of rose.


Paros

Transportation: Paros was a very short, 30-minute ferry ride from Naxos.

Stay: From the port of Paros, we caught a cab to our Airbnb in the port town of Naoussa. The apartment sat atop a hill, overlooking the ocean, a couple hundred feet from our kitchen. If Santorini didn’t have its views, Paros would have been my favorite part of the trip, hands-down. The Airbnb was as wonderful as it gets, with a fully furnished living and dining room, and a patio with magical views of the mountains and ocean. The only downside was that the wifi connection was pretty abysmal at both the Airbnb and throughout the entire island. The silver lining is that this helped us unplug, which is always good for the soul.

Our airbnb balcony in Paros

Things to do & sites to see: At this point, we were obsessed with renting ATVs for exploring because 1) they are relatively cheap to rent (30-40€ per day), and 2) they gave us the flexibility to see and do a lot more than would have been able to otherwise. We spent a full day driving around the entire island, visiting the port towns of Aliki, Piso Livadi and stopping by the island’s famous Golden Beach. A couple of minutes into our first day’s drive, we found a tiny, beach tucked into a corner of the island, which had very few tourists and crystal clear, warm water, and decided to stay awhile. The views along the island were breathtaking, not to mention the roads were paved, and I felt incredibly safe in and around the mountains. On one beautiful, sunny day, we took an all-day boat trip with Captain Ben, which was filled with both lazy lounging and jumping off the boat into the deep turquoise, blue ocean across all parts of Paros and along nearby Antiparos.

On Captain Ben’s Boat Tour in Paros

Including snacks, lunch, alcoholic & non-alcoholic drinks, this boat trip cost us 150€ for two tickets. We also spent a great deal of time exploring the port of Naoussa, walking around and stopping to snack. The majority of the remainder of our stay, we spent in our Airbnb, reading and playing card games, soaking in the serenity of the place as much as possible (and saving money). At this point, we had begun throwing around the idea of investing in a home in Paros in the future – to give you an idea of how much we loved it.

Food: The food in Paros was very good. We ate a lot of gyros from a tiny little cantina and thought they were the best we had yet. We also continued to live by Greek salads. We ate delightful, grilled octopus & even tried out some local pizza. Every meal was appetizing.

Walking around Naoussa in Paros

From Paros, we took a flight from the town of Parikia to Athens, where we stayed in a traditional Greek home (Airbnb) close to Athens International airport. Our host was the sweetest woman we had encountered: she picked us up from the airport, picked up and delivered dinner to us in our rooms, provided a lovely homemade breakfast, and dropped us off at the airport for our flight home to Boston.

Working Remotely: We have our jobs to thank for, for allowing us to be abroad for such an extended period of time: Amy works in the public school system and was able to take the entire time off during her summer break. I work at a startup in Back Bay and am fortunate enough to have a CEO who believes in workplace flexibility and allowed me to work remotely for part of the trip.

For a little over a week of our trip, I worked remotely (the remainder of the trip, I was “on vacation” and tried my best to be unplugged).

Wedding sunset in Santorini

Given the time difference (Greece is 7 hours ahead of Boston), this proved to be challenging but not impossible. On days that I was working, Amy and I would get all of our excursions done during the mornings and afternoons, and head back to where we were staying around 3pm/4pm, at which point it was 8am/9am in Boston and I could be in sync with the rest of my team. We used Slack, Zoom & email for most of our communications and, other than in Paros, didn’t have any trouble with reliable internet. I’d then work until about 12am/1am, which meant that I wasn’t always well rested during those days, but I managed well and felt it was definitely worth the compromise.

All in all, we had a memorable, once in a lifetime kind of experience, and glad we were able to do it at a pretty reasonable cost. We learned a lot along the way and are eager to apply it to our next extended trip abroad, where ever that should be! Hopefully, this was helpful to you as you plan your own Greek adventure!

How Blockchain Technology Can Benefit Developing Countries, Like Cape Verde

For the last few years, anyone involved in the financial industry has heard of blockchain technology. It’s considered a horizontal technology like the wheel or the electricity. Horizontal technologies have the power to change every sector and industry. Naturally, the question has started to circulate if blockchain can help alleviate the problems of emerging nations like Cape Verde Islands. Let’s have the look at the possibilities that blockchain technology offers for poor developing countries.

Cape Verde: An Overview

Cape Verde is an island country with an archipelago of 10 volcanic islands. It’s located to the west of Africa in the Atlantic Ocean. Cape Verde was under Portugal rule until 1975. Today it is a country with a strong population of more than 512,000.

Year-round sun, beautiful beaches, and an incredible volcanic landscape make it a great destination for travel. Despite being poor in natural resources, having propensities for droughts and lacking land suitable for sustainable agriculture, Cape Verde has managed to achieve financial stability, but it’s nowhere near a wealthy country. According to 2016 UN Human Development Report, the Human Development Index (HDI) puts Cape Verde at the rank of 122 out of 188 countries. So there is a lot of room for improvement in terms of dealing with poverty and moving towards prosperity.

Blockchain: The Technology

Blockchain technology gained prominence through the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. In 2009, a mysterious figure called Satoshi Nakamoto published a white paper called “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”. Developers started to implement the solution and the Bitcoin cryptocurrency was born. Blockchain was the backbone of this new form of digital money. Soon researchers and scientists realized that Blockchain as a standalone technology can achieve more than just digital currency.

Blockchain uses the power of cryptography to create immutable and distributed digital ledgers. Whenever two parties make a transaction, the record is entered into the ledger and becomes part of the chain using complex cryptography and mathematics. Because it takes enormous computing power to put a record into the digital ledger, it’s not possible for any single party to change it. The record is permanent.

For the first time in human history, two parties can transact remotely using blockchain without the need for an intermediary (like a bank or a government) to validate it. It has the potential to change the way the world economy works today.

Cape Verde Blockchain: A Story of Possibilities

Blockchain can help a country like Cape Verde increase financial inclusion, improve current systems, and put it on a path to defeating poverty. Here are a few interesting possibilities:

1) International Transactions and Financial Inclusion

According to World Bank’s Global Findex Database, only 50 percent of the world population has an account with financial institutions. So the rest of the population doesn’t have access to financial capital. Financial inclusion and access to capital play a vital role in reducing poverty.

Banks can be too expensive for poor people, coupled with the fact that distances from remote locations make these institutions unreachable for parts of the population. Lack of financial institutions also means lack of access to international transactions. It prevents poor people from participating in the global market.

Blockchain technology has the ability to overcome these hurdles. Using the internet and mobile technology, blockchain can help build financial relationships from all corners of the world without financial intermediaries. It can help foreign investments increase in countries like Cape Verde.

2) Microfinancing and Small Businesses

Microfinancing was hailed as the solution for changing the landscape of poverty. It hasn’t lived up to its reputation. One of the problems in microfinancing has been the presence of third-parties like non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and microfinancing institutions (MFIs).

Microfinancing allows poor people to get credit and start small businesses. The credit system doesn’t require any collateral and depends on trust. However, maintaining the records and keeping track of the transactions can be cumbersome for NGOs and MFIs. It can make the system too expensive to maintain.

Blockchain technology can help microfinancing as a digital ledger. In a general microfinance chain, the trust can be easily broken and result in the collapse of the system. Blockchain provides the trust and security that can keep a microfinance system running at low cost and promote the growth of small businesses. The expansion of small businesses means wealth creation and prosperity.

3) Improving Current Financial Institutions and Intermediaries

Weaknesses in financial institutions and inefficiencies in financial transactions can impede economic growth. Banks and governments can fall prey to corruption. There can be lack of transparency. Inefficient financial transactions and recordkeeping can lead to land-grabbing and other property frauds. Poor people are at high risks for such manipulation.

Blockchain’s tamper-proof and immutable records can help. They provide easy-to-follow digital trails that prevent corruption. Sweden is working on a blockchain-powered land registry. Other governments are investing in blockchain-based systems to build a relationship of trust with their citizens. A developing country like Cape Verde can definitely learn from these innovations.

4) Empowering the People

Various blockchain applications are empowering the people in unforeseen ways. Identity documents like birth certificates, driver licenses, and marriage certificates on blockchain are helping fight identity theft. Access to digital ID cards is invoking the poor to participate in financial activities through banks and in civic duties like voting. Intellectual property rights management is moving into blockchains to ensure the original creators are rewarded for their efforts. This can help the poor build wealth on ideas which were impossible before.

Challenges of Implementing Blockchain

Even though blockchain is a wonderful technology, it requires an investment of time and resources. Here are a few challenges:

  • As a new technology, there is a lot of skepticism about blockchain technology. More awareness is necessary.
  • Governments need to help move the technology forward. Private sectors are profit-motivated, but governments work for the good of the people: it is the responsibility of governments to provide support for the technology to help people.
  • Businesses and institutions need to figure out the operational and regulatory barriers around blockchain. If governments and institutions try to shut down the technology as a threat, it will not be good for the country in the long run.
  • Investment in developing talent pool who can implement the system is a necessary first step. Without a talent pool of blockchain engineers and developers, it wouldn’t be possible to create viable systems.

The Future of Cape Verde Blockchain

Blockchain can be the catalyst to bring financial freedom to the poor, globally. Cape Verde blockchain-based applications can play an important role in improving the country’s financial standing in the world while helping its people break the cycle of poverty. Leaders of every industry should pay attention to this new technology as a catalyst for social change.

References:
• http://observer.com/2017/05/how-blockchain-technology-can-help-poor-people-around-the-world-banking-emerging-markets/
• https://hbr.org/2017/05/how-blockchain-could-help-emerging-markets-leap-ahead
• https://www.forbes.com/sites/nikolaikuznetsov/2017/07/24/how-emerging-markets-and-blockchain-can-bring-an-end-to-poverty
• https://medium.com/@philippsandner/solving-challenges-in-developing-countries-with-blockchain-technology-78ec9b01bae3
• http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/africa/cape-verde/articles/reasons-to-visit-cape-verde/
• http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-13148486
• http://hdr.undp.org/sites/all/themes/hdr_theme/country-notes/CPV.pdf
• http://www.eib.org/attachments/efs/economic_report_banking_africa_digital_financial_inclusion_en.pdf =
• http://www.worldbank.org/en/programs/globalfindex
• https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/6042
• https://qz.com/947064/sweden-is-turning-a-blockchain-powered-land-registry-into-a-reality
• https://www.devex.com/news/opinion-here-s-what-needs-to-happen-to-scale-blockchain-in-developing-countries-90899

Cape Verde: Where Hurricanes are Born

For hurricanes which affect the Caribbean, North America, and South America, the biggest impact is from those which originate as weather disturbances in the area of the Cape Verde Islands off the west coast of Africa, know as the Cape Verde hurricanes. On the whole, 85% of all hurricanes affecting the Americas come from Africa.

Hurricanes can spawn within the Caribbean but fortunately are generally less powerful because they don’t have as much time over warm water to develop the huge amounts of energy of their African cousins.

Seeds Grow

Between Africa and South America, just north of our planet’s equator (yellow), is a strip of comparatively warm ocean water (orange). Sitting at the Eastern end of that phenomena are the Cape Verde Islands.

These islands experience developing weather from June to November, but especially July through October, with up to 20 days per month of rainfall in September. This happens because the Trade Winds are moving westwards and this is where they encounter that very warm Atlantic Ocean water for the first time.

How a hurricane grows

People talk about how warm water and winds combine to form a hurricane, but many don’t truly understand the mechanism. So let’s look at how it works.

First, you need an existing disturbance in the atmosphere, such as a thunderstorm which are extraordinarily common over Western Africa at this time of year. With just a few more contributing factors it can evolve into a full-fledged tropical depression, and possibly a hurricane.

The main requirement is that ocean water must be at least 78° F (26.5° C) down to a depth of 150 feet (50 meters), scientists estimate. This provides a massive heat sink from which the storm will draw its energy in the form of gaseous water.

Next, it needs to be more than 5° of latitude above the equator. Our planet rotates towards the east, which is why it appears that the Sun (and Moon, and stars) rise in the eastern sky. Right on the Equator there is no effective spin imparted to the air. A weather system must be a minimum of 5° away in order to gain rotation from the turning Earth.

To understand this, it helps to know that the Equator is traveling at about 1,000 miles per hour as the Earth spins. At 45° N latitude (which passes through OR, ID, MT, MN, SD, WI, MI, Ontario, Quebec, ME, NY, VT, NH, and Nova Scotia) the speed is half of that or 500 mph. Someone at either pole is effectively traveling a 0 mph. This “twisting” is known as the Coriolis Effect and without it hurricanes wouldn’t be possible.

It might help to imagine a lump of clay on a surface. If you were to slide your hand along the upper surface, it would begin to roll. Your hand and the table are moving at different “speeds” so the clay adapts by spinning.

Next it requires very low wind-shear in the atmosphere. If you have ever looked at a cloud and observed that it looks as if it were pushed over like a tower of blocks getting ready to fall that is likely due to wind shear. The air above is traveling faster than the air below, and likely in a different direction, so the cloud is “torn apart. You can see this in action with this video.

The next component is plenty of moisture being moved up into the atmosphere. This is the fuel for the hurricane. It results in unstable conditions, the consequence of which is thunderstorms.

Putting it all together

It doesn’t happen often that all the conditions are “just right”. If it did, the results would be continuous hurricanes across our planet.
But, when it does happen it works like this:

  1.  The Trade Winds leave the west coast of Africa, around the Cape Verde Islands at 12° N latitude, and encounter a warm ocean that is throwing untold tons of water up into the atmosphere through evaporation.
  2. Down at ocean-level warm water continues to evaporate and rises, forming Nimbus (storm) clouds. As those clouds form, the gaseous water condenses to liquid releasing its heat, and that adds fuel to the fire. The hot air rises, and more air is drawn in from below to replace it, adding more water, releasing more heat and so on, feeding the giant engine of a hurricane.
  3. The various layers of the atmosphere become harmonious, traveling in roughly the same direction at approximately the same speed. This means that the thunderstorms can dwell in the center of circulation and add more energy. If the wind shear is too great, the thunderstorms dissipate and the hurricane turns back into an ordinary tropical storm.
  4. The Coriolis Effect then starts to amplify the rotation of the air mass, making the southerly portion turn faster, and the northerly portion speeds up in response because the Prevailing Westerlies (blue on the map) are not as fast or strong as the Trade Winds.[ CITATION Sta17 \l 1033 ]
    Since the storm rotates counterclockwise and encounters the eastbound Westerlies along its northern edge, what may be a Category 1 or 2 hurricane overall becomes a Category 4 along that upper border.

Hurricane Sizes

For ease of reference, there is a scale to describe hurricanes. It is called the Saffir-Simpson Scale and references not just the wind speed, but also the likely storm surge. A Category 1 will have winds under 100 mph, which may be reassuring, but if you live near the shore in an area only a couple of feet above the local water level, a surge of 5 feet could cause a lot of damage. If you’re 10 feet above the local water level, a Cat 3 might hit 12 feet during the surge. You had better get those sandbags out, and make sure your pump is working!

What kills a hurricane?

Hurricanes generally fizzle out before they do the level of damage that we’ve seen just recently. As mentioned, wind shear drives the thunderstorm “engines” away from the center of rotation, which is similar to taking the batteries out of a device—it might continue running for a while—but it’s going to get slower and slower until it stops.

Another hurricane killer is dry air. If the Jet Stream dips down and starts feeding it cool dry air it can cause so much turbulence that the whole thing just disintegrates into several smaller, harmless storms. Dry air siphons off the water “fuel” and it fades away.

Landfall is also fatal to hurricanes, for as we’ve seen, they are dependent on incoming water to survive. Take that away and they cannot maintain their thunderstorms and simply fail.

Finally, the ultimate death knell for a hurricane, even if it stays over open water, is the cold North Atlantic water. It simply can’t draw enough water and energy from the frigid waters and dies an ignominious death.

History of Destruction

At the time of writing, hurricane Maria is a Cat 1 hurricane, off the east coast of the United States and headed northeast which is ideal. Meanwhile, Cat 3 hurricane Lee is just a bit southeast of Bermuda and headed northwest, and current predictions have it turning north on Thursday, northeast on Friday, and dissipating by Saturday morning in the mid-north Atlantic. Good news.

This has been an expensive hurricane season in 2017 in terms of lives lost, property and infrastructure damaged, and likely a prolonged recovery time. The island of Barbuda is completely devoid of residents for the first time in 300 years after Irma struck it with all its fury. The island went from beautiful green to completely brown in a matter of hours. Most of the residents are now living on their sister island Antigua.

Barbuda has a GDP of about one billion dollars, but based largely on tourism, and damages exceeding $250,000,000. That is a much tougher problem to solve since they are going to have no tourists for quite a while…

Katrina devastated Louisiana in 2005, and political wrangling left the area struggling for years trying to rebuild. It’s only now more than a decade later that they are getting back to pre-Katrina levels, though areas like the Lower 9th Ward are still struggling.

Texas, and notably Houston, has suffered a massive impact from hurricane Harvey, but have already acquired $15 billion from FEMA to start the rebuilding. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said it was just a down payment on what was to come.

FEMA approved $124 million for individuals and Households for Florida on September 10 in response to the damage caused by two hurricanes Harvey, and Irma. FEMA has more to spend but numbers aren’t readily available.

Puerto Rico suffered significant damage from hurricane Maria as well, even if not to the same extent, but has the advantage of a massive wealthy government to help them with financial support, and rebuilding infrastructure. The island is largely without electricity, and the people are working to get things back in operation. It will take months to restore essential services, but they have a much higher expectation that help will be forthcoming once the political rhetoric is done compared to places like Barbuda.

Climate Change

With this barrage of devastating weather, some of the more outrageous news outlets have been shamelessly blaming Global Warming for all these woes. While it is true that it may have exacerbated it slightly, in truth, Harvey was statistically indistinguishable from of number of earlier hurricanes. These reach back to Hurricane Easy in 1950 with 45 inches of rain, Tropical Storm Claudette in 1979 with 42 inches of rain in just 24 hours (whereas hurricane Harvey took three days to reach that amount), and even Tropical Storm Amelia in 1978 with its 48 inches of rain.

The Takeaway

We’re big fans of reality-based, replicable science around here, and feel free to protest when it is used for the sake of making headlines instead of reflecting the world we live in. This article by Eric Holthaus is a case in point. Harvey is not unique; it is not a once in “500 years” storm (additional hyperbole suggests that it is a “once in a millennium” storm). We’ve had four in this particular area since 1950 (Harvey plus the three mentioned above).

When people seem too smug, and adopt an “I told you so” attitude, you should probably take what they say with a grain of salt. Maybe you could even do a little research on your own. The facts, however speak for themselves. No weather event can be attributed to Global Warming specifically. It may alter it in some way, but there are always more direct local influences on such a complex system.

In science, few people speak of certainties, and you should be suspicious if they do. We speak of probabilities while looking for faults in our examination process. Real scientists don’t mind being wrong because that is how we learn new things.

Works Cited
Britt, R. (2005, May 27). How And Where Hurricanes Form. Retrieved September 21, 2017, from LiveScience: https://www.livescience.com/3815-hurricanes-form.html
Iacurci, J. (2017). 85% of U.S. hurricanes come from Africa. Retrieved September 21, 2017, from Nature World News: http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/13408/20150313/85-percent-of-us-hurricanes-come-from-africa.htm
Reynolds, A. (2017, September 7). CATO Institute. Retrieved September 23, 2017, from CATO AT LIBERTY: https://www.cato.org/blog/hurricanes-harvey-irma-cant-be-blamed-global-warming-0
State Climate Office of North Carolina. (n.d.). Hurricanes – Development. Retrieved September 21, 2017, from State Climate Office of North Carolina: https://climate.ncsu.edu/climate/hurricanes/development.php if
Sterling J, S. C. (2017, September 15). CNN. Retrieved September 24, 2017, from http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/15/americas/irma-barbuda-population-trnd/index.html: http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/15/americas/irma-barbuda-population-trnd/index.html
The University of Rhode Island #1. (2015). Hurricane Development: From Birth to Maturity. Retrieved September 21, 2017, from Hurricane Science: http://hurricanescience.org/science/science/development/
The University of Rhode Island #2. (2015). Hurricane Decay: Demise of a Hurricane. Retrieved Sept 21, 2017, from Hurricane Science: http://www.hurricanescience.org/science/science/hurricanedecay/

Origin, Inspiration and Future of Cape Verde Fashion

Fashion – is disputably one of the strongest components of a culture these days. It is a strong derivative of a region’s history, traditions, civilization and even climate. Even though Paris, Milan and New York have always been the global fashion hub, that hub is now becoming inclusive of all entities and cultures across the globe. Cape Verde fashion has been making its presence felt in the world over the last couple of years. It is refreshing to see this small island-country bringing forward its own trends in 2017 to the global fashion market.

Cape Verde fashion palette is a mosaic of various other cultures. Because 20% of Cape Verde’s GDP is tied to tourism, people from all across the west and Europe visit this beautiful islands of West Africa because of its pristine scenic beauty. Because of its strong influence of tourists and its former colonial roots, the Cape Verde fashion industry remained under the influence of European and Western fashion industry for a very long time. As a matter of fact, it had no fashion market of its own for many years after its independence. Most of the fashion merchandisers and boutique owners imported their high street fashion attire from Europe and America and sell them to the local consumers for profit. The fashion scene of the region heavily depended solely on the imported goods. Things started to shift in 2010 and the fashion industry of Cape Verde began to thrive. Several artists from Cape Verde participate New York and Milan fashion weeks and showcase their collections. These up and coming fashion designers have successfully distinguished Cape Verde fashion as a separate entity and brought forward their unique culture and history through clothing.

How Cape Verde Fashion Went Global?

Cape Verde’s first exclusive fashion magazine ‘So What’ went online in 2013, and it set the stage for Cape Verde fashion to go global. It featured local fashion designers like Mirte da Graça and Lisete Pote who provided Cape Verde fashion its basic infrastructure. Their designs featured bold and vibrant colors of the Caribbean, such as orange and blues with traditional tribal patterns. The high point of Cape Verde fashion was its 2015 plus size fashion show. Cape Verde ended 2015 with a series of cultural festivities, which included a runway fashion show for plus size women. The fashion show aimed to achieve two major goals:

  1. Discourage body shaming and encourage body positivity among African women and women across the globe
  2. Send the messages across the globe that fashion is an important medium of self-expression for Cape Verdeans

The plus size Cape Verdean fashion show surpassed its goals. The organizers of the show, Ivanilda Luz, and Marise Rodrigues were acclaimed for their message of positive body image, which led the way for Cape Verdean fashion designers towards a more global platform.

Who are the Pioneers of Cape Verde Fashion?

1. Nelida Cardoso

Nelida Cardoso’s fashion designs are a popping picture of her African ancestries, mixed with a fiery, feminist flare. Her 2014 runway collection stirred the global fashion world and played a major role in placing Cape Verde fashion on the global map. It was an Avante Garde inspired monochromatic collection, that featured traditional African nature-inspired fabric and earthy head accessories.

2. Cindy Monteiro

Cindy Monteiro is a Cape Verde fashion designer who fully embraced her heritage, which is reflected in her designs. The world first noticed Monteiro with her collection for the 2014 Vaiss Fashion Day. It was the first time Monteiro broke off the monochromatic trend and introduced some prints inspired by the European fashion trends to the Cape Verde runways. She has been consistent in releasing her lookbooks and designs since then.  Just recently she made her debut in the New York Fashion Week with a breathtaking island-inspired collection. Monteiro used shells and beads for her silk ruffled outfits and almost transplanted her entire audience to an island for a few minutes.

Bernadina – the collection Monteiro featured uses natural fabric including jute line and cotton line to enhance her African designs. To add to its uniqueness, the collection is hand painted by the designer herself so each piece makes an individual statement.

3. Josefa Da Silva

Josefa Da Silva is another Cape Verde born fashion designer who recently showcased her collection at the Accra Fashion Week. Da Silva draws her inspiration from her African roots and is known to marry them in a contemporary fusion with American fashion trends. With her textured fabrics and tribal prints, Da Silva has managed to successfully design many Cape Verde-inspired dresses for various global celebrities including former Miss Universe, Leila Lopes.

3. Angelica Timas

Angelica Timas, a trendsetting fashion designer located in Boston, Massachusetts was born in Praia, Cape Verde. Despite having any official training in the fashion industry, Timas’ vision and strong desire to become a designer, coupled with her discipline and good work ethic helped her to not only to pursue her dreams but to also successfully leave a mark in an industry unfamiliar to her original and professional territory.

The only thing that was between me and my dream was the fear of failure.– Angelica Timas

Timas also holds two Master’s degrees in totally unrelated fields, having received her formal education in Computer science and working as a Software Engineer, as well of being the proud founder and designer of the brand “Chikke”.

“Chikke” by Angelica Timas, which was launched not too long ago has gained significant traction in the fashion industry. Timas’ collections have been featured in many popular publications such as Glamor Italia, and Vogue England. Timas has also won many awards for her work including the Boston Fashion Award for evening wear. She continues to be popular in the fashion arena and can often be seen present in many fashion events throughout the world.

What is the High Street Fashion Scenario of Cape Verde?

Even though it is a tiny nation, Cape Verde is inhabited and visited by a plethora of ethnicities which only enrich its culture and heritage.

The main streetwear for both men and women in Cape Verde is chic and trendy and heavily inspired by the U.S and western street wear. At the same time, it also delves into its native traditions. Bold and graphic attire is pretty popular among the youth.

Based on recent trends, it is likely that Cape Verde will successfully make its separate and distinct mark in the global fashion industry.