Monday 31st October To Boa Vista Island, Cape Verde
The alarm went off at 3.15 am! By 3.40 we were on our way to Gatwick – in the dark of course.
There was very little traffic, but the almost constant night roadworks made for an unpleasant journey. We stopped at Cobham Services, planning to get a sandwich for breakfast, but none of the shops were open yet – only McDonald's! We phoned our car parking man, and were pleased to find him already there at the North Terminal car park when we arrived.
We now made our way to arrivals, so that we could buy our sandwiches.
All went well at the airport, although we both had an extra check at security, plus the lady looked into my hand luggage bag – it was a half cucumber which I'd put in for Adrian which was the culprit, and caused the lady amusement!
We'd asked for special assistance, so had a buggy ride to departures, and then boarded the plane first. It felt cool on the plane, but the six hour flight went well. The staff were very pleasant, and the pilot was particularly communicative. Later we were served 'breakfast' - omelette with potato croquettes.
We saw some of Spain & Portugal as we flew over, and had a good view of Gran Canaria.
There were no film monitors, so we occupied some of the time listening to part of our travels in Alaska. The man next to us was finding it a bit boring without the screens. He had given us his free 'Times', as we hadn't been able to pick up a copy. We lent him our Cape Verde guide book, so that he could see where he was going, but he handed it back after a couple of minutes! Obviously, like a lot of people, he was going to an 'all inclusive' and where he was actually going was unimportant!
We landed early at Boa Vista – 1.00 pm local time (2.00 to us). It was a magical scene as we descended above the exquisite turquoise sea to the sandy island. I felt a real 'wow'!
It was windy but beautifully warm as we walked from the plane (30°C).
We had to get visas, which was straightforward (€25 each). There were only 5 other passengers getting visas – the other hundreds from the plane were obviously on organised holidays, which arrange the visas for you! The good news was that it didn’t take long to get the visas and then we jumped the long queue waiting for passport control.
It was a long wait at the little airport to collect luggage, but we then walked out and got a taxi to Hotel Dunas, in nearby Sal Rei. Adrian had changed our original plan, and booked this hotel at the last minute, as it had air conditioning. It was quite a smart hotel, and we were delighted to find that our room looked out straight to the unspoilt sandy beach, with lots of little boats moored. We had been upgraded, as we were expecting a ‘town view’.
The terminal building on Boa Vista - a far cry from Gatwick!
We unpacked, and both 'chilled out', eating some cheese and biscuits for lunch, brought from home, with a cup of tea, using the kettle which we'd also brought.
A bit later, we walked out into the town, through the streets of rough cobbles. It was delightfully different. Tall slim elegant young ladies walked around. Many people spoke to us.
Schoolchildren gathered in their smart uniforms. There were very few 'white' people.
Everything took on a slower pace – Adrian went in to buy a phone card, which took ages! We found a 'hole in the wall', to get out some Cape Verde escudos. Afterwards Adrian realised that he'd got far less than he'd intended (got a nought wrong but still had to paid the same fee!). In a small supermarket we bought drinking water, orange juice and tonic.
The glorious view as we looked out from our room
We walked onto the beach, where several young kids were having fun swimming. We had a little paddle in the warm water, while a lone white woman came down and went straight in for a swim and snorkel.
There was a bar right by the beach – it looked very inviting to go and enjoy a beer, which we did. An English couple, Michelle and Rick, got talking to us. They lived in London, but he was originally from the Isle of Man. We enjoyed a long chat with them as the sun sank, with a beautiful sky – really atmospheric 'sundowners'.
The beach by our hotel in Sal Rei, Boa Vista
We walked back to our room, then returned to Te Manche, where the setting was lovely with the now dark sky. Our choice of food was very limited. Adrian had tuna, and I had 'buzio' – molluscs, the man said. Too chewy for me! The waitress was most unexciting, but the setting was great!
A really good first day!
Wednesday 1st November Relaxing in Sal Rei
After a good night's sleep, we woke to see the glorious early morning view, with the cluster of simple little boats out in the bay. We had breakfast in the pleasant, shaded courtyard. There wasn't much choice – it was adequate but not brilliant – there wasn't even any tea for Adrian, but the coffee was OK.
It was already warm as we walked out northwards through Sal Rei. Evocative images of the town were all around us, so we were busy with our cameras! We loved the decrepit, half built buildings with some wonderful wooden doors. We saw men with their catch of enormous fish, ladies balancing baskets on their heads and dogs languishing on the ground as we walked the rough cobbled streets.
We came down to a white sandy beach before walking back through the town, stopping at a little shop where we bought some more drinking water.
We felt extremely hot when we got back at 11.15. Thank goodness we'd changed hotels to have one with air conditioning!
We walked around the corner and ate lunch at a shady cafe looking down to the beach. We had toasted sandwiches with excellent chips and a pleasant beer. We were given little lids for these made of coiled sisal and shells to safeguard against the myriads of flies!
Images of Sal Rei, Boa Vista
Back in our room, Adrian found that the sink was leaking. He reported this, and much time was spent with people investigating. It couldn't be fixed easily, and as this is a bank holiday, nothing would be done today.
Eventually we were offered another room – upstairs, very small, and looking straight out to a wall! We declined, and asked for a bucket to go under the sink. All we were offered was a towel to sop up the water!
We asked for another chair, as there is only one, and we wanted to start on the website. At first we were told no, but on insisting, did have one brought from the breakfast room!
We walked out again, passing a nice white and blue church, and the 'rock garden' - an area with seats among a few large rocks!
Keeping the flies off the beer!
We came down to Praia de Diante, the beach right by our hotel, where we had been yesterday. It was milling with dozens of locals – mostly children enjoying the sand and the water. Many wore their normal clothes -T-shirt and shorts. We were the only white people. Adrian went in for a swim while I watched from the sand.
The church and the rock garden
We walked back via a 'hole in the wall', which had run out of money.
We ate tonight at Porton de las Ilha, which was up many stairs opposite the little pier. There were lovely views out over the bay. Sitting outside to eat our meal in the warmth was wonderful. We had a charismatic waiter to serve our meals – shrimps - with grouper fish for Adrian, and with coconut for me. The shrimps (prawns) were good, but included the heads, separately. As the lighting was dim, it was difficult to see them!
Fun on Praia de Diante Beach
Thursday 2nd November Exploring southern Boa Vista by car 88km
There was poached egg for breakfast this morning, and Adrian was able to have tea.
Today we'd organised to have a car for two days, so after sorting out what to take with us, we walked up to Perla car hire firm, which we'd called in at the other day to check.
We were dealt with by two pleasant young ladies and picked up our truck which we drove back and parked by our balcony. We loaded up from there and left at 10 o'clock, just as a large group of quad bikes went past. Adrian had had trouble in fixing up the sat nav.
We drove south, coming to the colourful village of Rabil, where a young man was sitting outside using his hand sewing machine.
We drove on south through dry desert scattered with bushes and palm trees. The road was of rough cobbles or bumpy stones, which didn't do much to help my travel-sickness! We passed the two mountain shapes of San Antonio (378m) and Rocha Estancia (364m).
We drove through more barren ground to the pretty village of Poroacao Velha, which had many half built houses. Goats, and chickens with their chicks, roamed the streets.
We set off to explore the south of Boa Vista
We drove on up to the chapel. We thought that it was nice that the door had been left open, but then discovered that it was broken off and was standing inside! The chapel was actually derelict, with the remains of a sad little altar, and an empty wooden coffin standing in an anteroom. There was a bell on a shelf inside, and another in a small bell tower. We sat on steps in the shade of this to have our tea/coffee and a piece of cake brought from breakfast. It was windy, but really warm as we looked down over the village.
We now travelled on a new, smooth section of road, built to service the vast all-inclusive hotel on the remote south coast at Praia de Lacacao. We turned off from here onto a track down to Santa Monica beach. This exquisite beach of white sand and turquoise sea was totally deserted. Myriads of crickets jumped up from the vegetation.
We ate our lunch sitting on the sand in the shade of an acacia tree. Adrian had rolls brought from breakfast, and I had cheese and biscuits brought from home. It was really peaceful – the only other life around was a few goats.
In and around Poroacao Velha chapel
We now followed the track towards the new resort. By a small lagoon behind the beach we were thrilled to see several birds – a heron, spoonbills and an osprey.
Glorious Santa Monica beach
We came to another wonderful long white sandy beach beside the deep turquoise sea. Again there were crickets, and also crabs, making holes in the sand. We walked along the beach, before putting on our cozzies. Adrian managed a short swim, but it was really too shallow. I sat on the edge of the waves after a quick dip into the water.
Unexpected sighting of an osprey, a heron and spoonbills
The onward journey from here was a nightmare! Firstly we got stuck on the rocks, but having freed ourselves, the road was so bumpy that every inch was hell! There were occasional stones painted white to mark the way across the dark rocks. One or two brave little birds flew up from the barren ground. I tried to enjoy the wonderful turquoise sea and white beach as Adrian assured me that he track was marked on his sat-nav!
Miraculously we finally came back to the new paved road, but our track ran parallel, and it was a long way before it actually joined it. We then passed the incongruous vast resort (1100 rooms) of RIU Touareg, on a road with street lights and roundabouts!
Our route then took us on a flat, sandy track through the desert, marked on the map in the same way as the previous nightmare track! We reached a delightful oasis, with palm trees and a few massive large-leaved trees with seeds like beech masts. A rough swing had been hung on one. I had a go, while the ever present goats looked on!
We drove on, passing several donkeys, before coming back to the town of Rabil with its cobbled streets. We followed signs to an 'artisan' – a simple pottery, where a few workers were making small items by hand. We purchased a little turtle! From here we could see down over the airport.
An oasis (with no water) in the desert
We followed the road now to Chaves Beach, again of glorious white sand. I had a short paddle. Up behind was an evocative tall chimney from the past brickworks.
Making ceramic turtles
We turned off once more - to Rabil lagoon, supposedly good for bird-life, but we saw nothing from where we were.
It was 5.30 when we got back – both pretty tired! We unloaded the car onto the balcony. We were pleased to find that both the sink and the safe had been mended during our absence. It was time for a cup of tea!
We ate tonight at Caffe de Porto, which was underneath last night's restaurant. We could hear the 'Fado' music from upstairs that the waiter had told us about. This place was popular, and cheaper! I ate calamari, in a nice tasty soup/stew. Adrian had serra fish. We could still not get money from the ATM on our return.
Chaves Beach, with its abandoned brickworks chimney
Friday 3rd November Exploring the north of Boa Vista 99km
We ate breakfast quite early, and left at 9 o'clock to see something of the north of the island.
We stopped to buy drinking water, and to finally take out some more money – always a problem here, as hotels want to be paid in cash. However, we don't want to be left with any Cape Verde escudos, as they can't be exchanged elsewhere.
We drove eastwards from Sal Rei, through a run down 'ghetto' area on a so-called track, not much better than yesterday's!
It was with relief that we reached the new tarmacked road to Bofaneira. This village consisted of a few rows of painted houses, with just a couple of people about.
We drove on across the stony desert, passing a barren football pitch! We passed one or two locals walking this lone road. There were some rough netted enclosures growing sweetcorn.
We came to a desolate gorge in this wilderness. A few brave little starry flowers grew from the brittle low shrubs. One or two birds flew up. The track appeared to be following a river bed.
Past the ‘ghetto’ to a shady tunnel through the trees
Netted sweetcorn near the football pitch!
We followed white stone markers to the former village of Espinguera, where the few cottages had been made into a luxury resort for those really wanting to be away from it all! There wasn't even mobile phone connection. A gentleman in white ‘knickers' came and spoke to us, letting us know that visitors weren't welcome! Agaves had been planted in this arid environment.
Bright flowers in a stony gorge
We started our return journey, joining a cobbled road southwards. Goats abounded once more. We noticed a few patches of pale grass then one or two small bushes, and then palm trees. This area has more water than other parts of the island.
We followed the route to the luxury resort at Espinguera
We came to the first of three small villages we were visiting – Joao Gallego. We drove along a road of prettily painted houses, with bougainvilleas and oleanders growing in front. Just afterwards we stopped in the shade of acacia trees for our tea/coffee and a piece of fresh cake from breakfast, while goats roamed about again.
More rough tracks - and then a wetter area
The next village, Fundo das Figueros, had pale coloured houses, with bougainvillea growing outside the church.
A 'reasonable' track took us down to Praia de Canto, yet another beautiful remote beach of white sand. We had a paddle before driving on a bit further to Gata, another wonderful beach with a few desolate buildings and a couple of small boats. There was a reef offshore and you could go snorkelling here, but it was low tide and the water was not deep enough to swim over the rocks. We ate our lunch in the shade of the car, annoyed by the persistent flies.
We returned to gorgeous Canto beach, where we both had a delightful swim.
Shady acacia trees
Bougainvillea outside Fundo das Figueros church
Now we followed the rough track back to Fundo das Figueros, continuing on the rough cobbles to Cabeco des Tarafe, another sleepy village of pastel coloured houses with bright red hibiscus growing outside.
Now we started our return, taking the cobbled road back though Fundo das Figueros, with its incongruous area of exercise machines, and with people gathered in the shade, and then pretty Joao Galega towards Rabil. We turned off so that we could have a view of the whiter than white Viana Desert.
Nice place for a swim!
In Rabil, young children were playing on their way home from school.
Back in Sal Rei, we followed a long route to small Our Lady of Fatima chapel just to the north. It was set on a bluff above the sea. We climbed the 35 steps to the entrance. The young guardian had a few embroidered bags inside the entrance, which he would have liked us to buy.
The Viana desert on Boa Vista
As we drove back, we drove past the original accommodation on the outskirts of Sal Rei which Adrian had booked, and were so glad that we'd changed!
We stopped to fill the fuel tank, getting back just before 5.00 pm to unload everything over the balcony in readiness to move on to Santiago island tomorrow.
Definitely time for a cup of tea again!
We later ate tonight at Berimar, a few yards in the other direction from our hotel. All the places we have eaten at here have been within a minute or two of the hotel.
This last night choice couldn't have been better. It was right by the sea. We sat outside to enjoy our meal of tuna steak (A) and giant prawn with zuccini ravioli (R), beautifully presented, as our book said. It was busy with customers, some of whom seemed to be associated with the owners. A lovely last evening on Boa Vista.
The chapel of Our Lady of Fatima, Sal Rei
Saturday 4th November We fly to Santiago Island
We were up early to prepare for our flight to Santiago. After having breakfast, Adrian paid the hotel bill and we set off the short way to La Perla car hire.
They supposedly opened at 8 o'clock, but there was nobody there when we got there. Eventually one girl arrived, but she hadn't the key, so we couldn't get our deposit back. She phoned the other girl, who arrived soon afterwards, looking rather flustered, and saying something about a hospital visit.
Our first girl then drove us to the airport – there was no checking of the vehicle. She said how different Santiago was – far more people, and not like Boa Vista, where everybody knew each other. We told her how much we'd enjoyed it here.
At the tiny airport – the sort I can cope with - she came in to put us in the right direction. We were the only people going through security at that point. Even so, Adrian's belt set off the alarm, so he had to have several goes through the gateway.
We sat in the shade in the outdoor departure lounge enjoying the pleasant temperature.
We drive past the main square in Sal Rei as we leave
After a while an announcement said that there would be a half hour delay. Our 9.45 flight finally took off at 10.30, after we'd walked through a rough 'alleyway' and across the tarmac to the small plane.
As we took off, we could see the little chapel we'd visited yesterday. The flight was only just over half an hour. Just long enough for the hostesses to bring us all a glass of water and a small bag of nuts & crackers – and then a sweet and a wet-wipe.
We looked down to the vast sprawl of Praia, the capital of Santiago and the Cape Verde Islands. Once off the plane, and reunited with our bags, we walked out on the rough concrete pathway. A man had accosted us, saying 'taxi', but we realised too late that he was just a porter! We followed him out to where the taxis were parked. A new airport building is under construction, so it was all a bit of a mess.
Once in the taxi, we sped along – no seat belts. The 'air-conditioning' was open windows, so we arrived 'blown & buffeted'. The driver gave no change from the 1000 escudos for the 800 escudos charge! It was stiflingly hot as we ascended stairs to the reception – but then realised that it wasn't the right place! This was restaurant Gamboa and our hotel was Miradouro de Gamboa. Luckily a man appeared from next door – he said that it was his uncle's hotel and it was up the street. He started directing us, but then kindly gave us a lift there – wonderful, as it was uphill and hot!!
At the hotel, we were booked in by a pleasant enough chap – but - the lift wasn't working, so it was a long climb up many marble stairs. He brought up our luggage, by which time he was dripping sweat!
He pointed out the lovely view from the breakfast area, just along from us. We said what a shame our room didn't have a view! The end result was that we swapped rooms so that we did have one with a view past all the building to the port and the sea.
Boa Vista departure lounge
Feeling hot and weary, we ate a bit of lunch which we'd luckily brought with us, while we pondered what to do. Our intention had been to drive north tomorrow to Tarrafal for 4 days, then to return to this hotel for three more. We realised that we didn't want or need to be in a large, hilly, hot town, so Adrian looked into another option for our return (which you can do on Booking.com), and booked a place near the ancient town of Cidada Velha.
We got settled in. This was an ideal time to get up to date with the website.
In the evening we walked down the steep cobbled street to Gamboa restaurant, which appeared to be the only option around. As we left, the receptionist downstairs asked if we were going for a walk, as it was dangerous to go too far.
When we arrived at the restaurant, waiters were just setting up the tables smartly. The only other people were one or two watching football on the TV although another couple did appear just before we left.
Adrian's dish of mixed fish was good value – three large fish steaks with vegetables. My cuttlefish was a bit chewy. It was all a bit OTT, making us think of a meal at the Bird in Hand, just after we were married, when, as the only diners, we had the attention of all the staff. A bit uncomfortable!
We drank a beer – the waiter was clearly disappointed that we didn't order the expensive wine he'd brought! We were served our meal by two young waitresses, serving it from one platter onto our plates.
It wasn't expensive, but not quite us!
As we walked back up afterwards, we realised that it would have been a real struggle earlier in the heat, with all our luggage!
The view from our room at Praia, Santiago Island
Full moon at Praia
Sunday 5th November North to Tarrafal 72km
We ate breakfast on the patio, looking down over the sea. It was an excellent breakfast, especially the delicious 'eggy bread' – the best I've tasted. The pleasant lady speedily made us superb scrambled egg too. The rolls were fresh, and the orange juice freshly pressed. We also ate succulent papaya.
We came back to prepare for the next stage of our travels - driving north to Tarrafal. At 9.30, a chap arrived to drive us back to the car hire, as planned. It was only a short distance, but uphill of course! Being Sunday, the place was really closed. As Adrian asked to extend the car hire to a week, it will be Sunday when we return it too.
We drove back to our hotel, and climbed the 55 steps up to our room to collect our bags. A lady worker took our heavy bags and carried them down – on her head! How I envy the posture of the local ladies!
Having paid our hotel bill, it was 10.30 when we were on our way. Our first stop was at a supermarket. Adrian was hoping to get some tonic for his gin, but was out of luck! They don't seem to know it on Santiago! We bought a few other items, including a bottle of local wine. They didn't take a card, and we didn't have enough cash to hand. Adrian got in a bit of a tiz, dashing out to the car before realising that he had more money with him in his rucsac.
Once off, we drove through the area of Praia known as The Plateau, and on through the continual sprawl - not very appealing. When we finally reached the countryside, we pulled off amongst cows and egrets to have a late coffee/tea.
A lovely breakfast on the balcony at Praia
As we neared Sao Domingos, we came to a steep terraced valley with fields of crops in the base. We were suddenly aware of 'Ou Pou' peaks, and from then on, the scenery was quite dramatic with its steep slopes and jugged peaks. We passed through almost continuous small villages with colourful lines of clothes drying. We passed football matches being played on dry pitches, and couldn't imagine playing in this heat. Driving wasn't relaxed as the western idea of topes (sleeping policemen) had taken on and often these weren't even marked.
From busy Praia to the peace of the countryside
The weather was hazy and humid, making us feel the heat even more, especially as the air conditioning in this vehicle isn't very good.
We pulled in to a viewpoint over Assomada which we could see perched on a plateau. We stopped soon afterwards to eat our sandwiches, having pulled onto a bit of waste ground – parking places hadn't materialised!
Finally we could see Tarrafal below us on the coast. We followed the sat-nav to the hotel Adrian had booked for the next four days. There was a sign saying 'hotel', next to San Marino hotel, but no name! We walked into a dark foyer, where a woman was sitting half hidden behind a desk. At first she knew nothing of what Adrian was saying. He brought in the booking form. After a great deal of time, the rather off-hand lady said 'oh yes', and laughed.
She led us up stairs with an unfixed hand rail to the first floor. She showed us a small room, with one window overlooking the sea, but it was opaque! There was a large window overlooking a rough square, where we had parked the car. We went down to collect our stuff, feeling extremely hot!
On the route from Praia to Tarrafal
I had been so pleased to see that there was a bath, but when Adrian went to have a shower, he realised that the bath had no taps!
We were delighted to have a balcony to enjoy our drinks on. We were just going out there, when we became aware of tuneful singing, and looked out to see a large parade of people, many in white T-shirts, parading past the nearby church, and singing as they walked around the block down below us.
Adrian looked up the information that he had, and the price, and came back to show the lady. We'd seen that rooms on the floor above had a balcony. The end result was that we changed to the higher floor- to the second of two rooms she showed us. It was far more spacious, with an outdoor table and chairs where we soon sat to recover with a cup of tea. We couldn't really see the sea from here, but it was much more pleasant.
We drove out on Adrian's unsuccessful search for tonic. I did manage to buy more biros, as the new ones I'd brought weren't writing. We looked down to the pretty beach before coming back up all the stairs - even climbing higher to see the view from the roof.
Adrian tried to emulate the locals when he collected our luggage!
Looking down from our hotel
We went down to eat at the restaurant downstairs, being attracted by the 'all in' menu we'd seen earlier. The efficient and bubbly waitress told us that this wasn't available – only pizzas & burgers, but we were able to both have octopus! We later realised that the board didn't say 'from 5.00-11.00’, but 5/11 - 5th November!
The place was the opposite of last night's – none of the finesse, but full of vibrance. It was the meeting place for locals, and was really alive.
Churchgoers tunefully parading
Monday 6th November Fishing boats on the beach 64km
We heard the church bells toll slowly at 6 o'clock, as they had done last night. Adrian put our music on, and Harry Belafonte's 'Island in the sun' was playing - how appropriate!
I washed out some clothes. Adrian had asked yesterday if we could hang laundry on the roof deck, where there were lines out for the hotel washing, but was told no (maybe she didn't understand). Not to be thwarted, he'd found a length of rope for a line, and 'borrowed' some pegs, and had hung out a few of his things, which were dry by morning. I now hung my things on the rope on our patio.
Our idea today was to drive south from Tarrafal along the coast road, after passing the notorious past concentration camp built in 1936 to house Anti-fascist political prisoners from Portugal, and which I had no desire to visit. We turned off at the village of Chao Bom, which had half built houses and a narrow stone aqueduct. We stopped at Caldera de Maria Sevilah, high up above the sea, to have coffee and share a delicious palmier bought from the cafe downstairs. We sat in the shade on low brick seats. On the wall in front of us were three colourful bags – not rubbish, but lunch for the workers below! An 'aluguere' (shared taxi), with people hanging out of the back, stopped and a chap delivered some more bags and a spirit level onto the wall. Another truck passed and the driver tried to sell us bananas.
We walked over to the beach to see what was happening, and realised that two fishing boats had come in, and locals were coming to get their fish. What a feast for the eyes and ears this was! People gathered around the boats, the women with colourful scarves on their heads, and with little laced edged aprons. Some had babies strapped to their backs. The women had large plastic bowls and buckets with lids, which doubled as seats. There was a lot of shouting. Dogs wandered around, sniffing their mates.
Off to collect fish
The fish come in to Tarrafal beach
We drove on, seeing cows and small boats down below on a black sand beach. We joined the main road for a very short distance, turning off to drive the 7 km of cobbles to Ribeira de Barca. We'd been surprised to see people sweeping the road, miles from any habitation.
We wanted somewhere to pull off for lunch, but just as in much of eastern Europe, roads hadn't been built for social reasons, so picnic sites weren't commonplace.
We did manage to stop to eat our rolls sitting on rocks in the shade of an acacia tree. The big annoyance was the many flies. Packed alugueres went past.
As we drove on down to the village, a chap stopped us and tried to get us to visit some caves. We said that we weren't interested. He asked if we could give him a lift down to the village, and hopped in amongst all our bags.
The village of Ribeira de Barca was a gem! There was so much character! Once more, a fishing boat had pulled onto the beach, and locals thronged around. All life was here – a chap spat on the ground, a little boy coming back from a party, with party hat and balloon, peed in the gutter. Further along the beach were stone pens containing pigs. In the cobbled streets hens with chicks strutted about. In the shade lay dogs, a new puppy, and a goat . Fishing nets were being laid out on the cobbles to dry, making us think of Cambrils in Spain 45 years ago. Several people greeted us, one lad getting Adrian to take his photo.
Lunch for the workers
Cows on the black sand beach
The banana truck comes along as more lunches are delivered from the aluguere
We drove back up to the main road back to Tarrafal. We pulled in to look at a rare picnic site in the Serra Malagueta Natural Park which we had passed yesterday. You had to drive onto the pavement to park, but it was set under tall trees, with agaves growing on the steep bank opposite.
More fish are landed - images of Ribeira de Barca
We continued through the dramatic gorge scenery through Chao Bom , where we had to beware of unmarked topes, a cow, goats, dogs, chickens and pedestrians all on the road.
We got back to our hotel in Tarrafal at 2.20. Our room hadn't been cleaned - perhaps they don't here!
We wondered where to eat tonight. The restaurant next door wasn't open, so we decided to try Buzios, a short walk away. We arrived early, but the place soon filled up. We sat in a covered courtyard. The menu was written on a blackboard, which was carried around to the diners. It was simple, and cheap! Adrian had tuna, and I had fatcho (we couldn't find out what that was, but it was fish!)
Both dishes came with chips and rice, which we didn't need. It was a busy atmosphere, and very enjoyable.
When we got back, we sat on the balcony with a nightcap.
Serra Malagueta Natural Park
A superb meal at Buzio’s
Tuesday 7th November Discovering more of northern Santiago Island 70km
There was no light at all when we first went down to breakfast! The lady did turn on the dim light, and we enjoyed another good breakfast with the fresh rolls and lush papaya.
Back in our room, Adrian had trouble with the curtain rail. Firstly when he tried to pull back the curtain, he stood on a wicker chair, and the chair collapsed. Then the whole curtain rail came off!
Made us think of Jon Cape at Paul & Nicky's wedding, when he did the same thing.
The day was partly cloudy, but still warm when we left at 9.45 to see something of the northeast of the island.
We drove past all the one storey, half decrepit houses, coming to the taller ones further out of town. We could look back to Tarrafal past the reddish soil dotted with small trees.
We drove on a cobbled road across to the east coast, viewing it far below. It was sparsely populated, but we passed several people carrying large loads on their head, particularly huge bundles of hay.
We drove southwards, through simple villages where people were carrying water. One man had a mobile phone to his ear.
Little boats nestled in the small coves. At Achada Tenda, bananas were growing in the valley and there were low deciduous trees.
People were collecting water from a well.
Looking back to Tarrafal
Looking down the eastern coast
We stopped near another well situated below the rugged rocky cliffs, which were littered with caves, to eat our pastry bought from the cafe this morning, sitting on a low wall. A fishing boat had pulled onto the shore in the little cove, and fish was being unloaded. Two young lads came along, asking for money. They spoke in French. They tried every trick in the trade, being really helpful in trying to carry our things back to the car. Adrian gave them a few coins in the end. They were asking for us to buy some fish. I took their photo.
Vegetation and water near Achata Tenda
We came to the coastal town of Calheta de Sao Miguel with its black sand beach. Older schoolboys in uniforms of beige shirts and long brown trousers were walking home from school. Ladies were carrying loads on their heads.
From here we drove back across the island on a good tarmacked road. We were following the Ribeira dos Flamengos. Bananas and crops were being grown on the flat valley floor.
A second well where men had landed fish in a little cove
We had a delightful lunch stop beside a little chapel, sitting on a shaded wall. It was really peaceful, with just the sound of cockerels and a donkey.
We drove on past Casa Grande. Little children were running home from school along the road.
At Boa Entrada, we joined the main inland road north to Tarrafal. Once again, we marvelled at the spectacular scenery.
At Tarrafal, we explored a bit of the other end of the town, thinking that our spot was much nicer.
We looked back to 'our' beach.
A lady walks past as we eat lunch by the chapel
We were pleased when we got back to find that our room had been cleaned – and we had a new loo roll!
We heard sounds outside rather like when a French circus is being announced. We just saw the end of a parade of cars.
Tonight we ate at Baie Verde, just across the square and above the beach. Apart from two silent French women who came for a drink and a cigarette, we were the only customers, although there had been several when we looked in last night.
Our food was excellent, even if described on the menu as 'miscellaneous fish' and 'cooked fish'!
We were accompanied by a small ginger coloured cat, keen to have our scraps.
It was really still and warm as we looked out over the sea. Everywhere was very quiet tonight.
We sat on the balcony until bedtime.
Looking back to ‘our’ beach at Tarrafal
Wednesday 8th November Around Tarrafal 19km
We looked down early this morning to see local ladies sitting in the square pulling weeds from the cobbles! It does always seem to be the women who do the work.
After breakfast we bought 2 'langues de chat' from the 'off-hand' woman at the bakery counter. The attitude often seems to be 'take it or leave it'.
Back upstairs a wonderful grey headed kingfisher alighted on the wires outside our balcony. It flew off later showing its vibrant royal blue feathers. It deserves a more fanciful name!
Women weeding the square
We sat on the balcony to have coffee/tea and the cakes, which turned out to be made of coconut.
We left in the car at 11.40, driving on the cobbled streets out of Tarrafal, as yesterday. We had to beware of topes, people and goats.
We turned off northwards onto more cobbles towards Tras os Montes. We passed several people, each leading a cow, like Jack and the beanstalk. A car with hay stacked high passed us. The villages were of simple half built houses, with people hanging about, as always. Children in uniform wandered home from school. Goats and pigs roamed in the streets. There was a football pitch, and corn had been planted in the stony, parched soil.
We came to the end of the road at Punta Furna, taking another bumpy track towards the sea, but soon giving up.
A beautiful grey headed kingfisher
On the corner, children were sitting on a wall outside a derelict looking school, reminding us of one we'd seen in Soweto.
Colourful washing hung on the lines. Egrets strutted in the fields. We watched a bird of prey on a tree which we looked up to be an Alexander’s Kestrel.
This is as far as we went
We arrived back at 1.00, in time to eat our lunch sitting on our balcony in the shade, while all life went on below us - women carrying large plastic bowls on their heads – presumably the fishing boat had come in. Men pushed wheelbarrows, and one carried a large outboard motor. Local music emanated from opposite. All very atmospheric!
An egret and Alexander’s kestrel
In the afternoon we went down to the glorious white sandy beach, passing the colourful fishing boats to join the many sunbathers. We both had a good swim. A local lad entertained us by skimming into the waves with his surfboard and performing acrobatics. We walked along to the rocks at the end of the splendid beach and then back to the far end. We looked at a restaurant here with a view to coming back tonight, walking back by the road. You would definitely need a torch in the dark to avoid the many pot holes!
Lunch on the balcony, which we’d so enjoyed
Back at our hotel, we enjoyed a cup of tea on the balcony. We're so glad that we changed rooms! Later we had aperitifs there too, while kids played basketball down below.
Luckily the restaurant Rei do Peixe in San Marino hotel next door was open tonight, despite a lady earlier saying that it wasn't. We sat in an open courtyard to eat our fish meal. The young waiter showed us pictures on his phone of the various fish – that was the menu! Adrian had grouper and I had 'inforkado', both served with chips and rice, and very good. We thought that it was time we tried 'grogue', the local rum – I was glad to have some water to add to it!
Two ladies had come to eat, later joined by another couple. They all turned out to be Belgian, and seemed very pleasant. A lovely last meal in Tarrafal, which we'd really enjoyed.
Enjoying Tarrafal’s wonderful beach
Thursday 9th November South to the Cidade Velha 93km
Today was overcast, but still very warm - 29°C.
They seemed to be short of rolls at breakfast – we ended up buying two from the bakery counter for our lunch.
We got packed up and left just after 10.00.
We stopped to get fuel but Adrian was still thinking of the last car, and got confused about where the filler was and that the car wasn't diesel! Luckily there was an attendant to fill it.
We drove down the western side of the island as far as Boa Entrada. We drove up into the hills, going from sea level to 2,800 ft (850m) in 16km. We came into the clouds, which made it more difficult to see the topes! We saw that it had been raining.
We came out of the clouds to see the impressive 'cathedral peaks'. People were carrying huge loads of hay.
We drive past the main square as we leave Tarrafal
We drove across the island to the eastern side on the road we took the other day. We stopped by the same little chapel to have coffee. Once more it was really peaceful, with just the sounds of nature – birds, cows and crowing cocks.
The road on the eastern side of the island was newly tarmacked, with road markings. We passed donkeys here carrying the large bundles of hay. In a fertile valley near Achada Fazenda, bananas and coconuts were growing. We also saw papaya and cabbages growing.
Some of Santiago’s ‘cathedral peaks’
We ate our lunch sitting on a ledge jutting out from a low stone wall, looking out across the parched land where aloes had been planted.
A big wide road had been built right around Praia – like the M25 with no traffic. We were heading for Cidade Velha, but by now we were back to cobbled streets. Cidade Velha looked full of character as we drove through it. We passed the fort, and the football pitch on the dry river bed. People had small stalls of vegetables and brightly coloured clothes.
We had to drive a mile further on to Hotel Vulcao, where we had booked to stay for the next 3 nights. This was our third booking – we were originally booked into Hotel Miradouro de Gamboa in Praia, where we had stayed the first night. We had realised then that it was too much in the hot, busy city, with little choice of anywhere to eat close by, and with a lift which wasn't working. Also it has the problem that there is a malaria outbreak in Praia and although we brought some pills with us it seemed silly to put ourselves at risk when there were now other alternatives.
Papayas and cabbages
Staff – apparently all from Cape Verde - were pleasant and helpful, offering to carry our luggage. All greeted as we passed.
We had a walk around, finding it all a bit 'anaesthetised'. Once sorted, we went down to swim in the seawater pool below. Adrian commented that the water looked greenish and that they should clean it more often, although the water did look clean. When we looked out later the pool was empty!
As in so many places, there appeared to be very few other guests. This we found when we went down to eat in the restaurant. There was one lone diner when we arrived, and nobody else came. An uncomfortable feeling – just us and a waiter/barman with not much English. Adrian had tuna, and I had prawns/shrimps which I found difficult to peel, so were very messy. Again the meal came with both chips and rice, and once more the waiter cleared away the plate before the second person (me) had finished eating.
The view from our room at Hotel Vulcao
Friday 10th November Exploring southern Santiago Island 105km
We were surprised when we went down to breakfast to find that there were already a lot of diners there.
It was not a success, particularly for me. The coffee only came out of the flask with great difficulty. The worst thing was, they had run out of bread rolls. There was egg, both scrambled and fried, but only sliced white bread to put it on. I enjoyed the fruit, but wasn't keen on the strange savoury mini pasties and flan.
We left in the car at 9.30, driving on cobbled streets north of us across parched stony ground dotted with acacia trees, which had been planted in rows, presumably for wood. Aloes often lined the road. We came to a school in this wilderness – uniformed children were walking along the barren road to it.
We arrived at the village of Salineiro with its single storey houses built of drab stone blocks. In the distance we could see the volcanic island of Fogo, looking like Bali Hai, with a ring of cloud in front.
Looking back to Hotel Vulcao
A good cobbled road lined with aloes
The school in the middle of nowhere
Bundles of acacia wood collected for cooking
We now turned off onto a bumpy dirt track. Adrian hadn't lost his love of trying out difficult routes! After many miles we came to the strewn out village of Achada Louro. The road was now cobbled, and busy with donkeys, goats, chickens, cows and children. We stopped to have our elevenses sitting on a low wall round the concreted football pitch, listening to the birdsong. Adrian had managed to bring a piece of cake from breakfast. Two young chaps walked by with a donkey.
Volcanic Fogo Island
The not so good dirt road
We soon came to the village of Rui Vaz, where lots of people were collecting water in plastic cans from a well, some with donkeys to transport them. We could see down now to the east coast as we joined a road towards Sao Domingos.
In the valley below, crops were being grown – fields of cabbages, edged with sweetcorn.
Coffee by the football pitch
Two young lads walk by with their donkey
At Sao Domingos, we took the main road north, turning off at Sao Lourenco to follow the tarmacked road across to the east coast.
Below us we could see the Poilao Reservoir, built in 2006 by the Chinese. We took the cobbled road down towards it, thinking that this would be a good place to eat lunch. We were thwarted at first, as 3 carloads of people arrived. They didn't stay long, so we had a pleasant stop, sitting above the reservoir. We saw a beautiful kingfisher again, and in the distance were spoonbills. We had to make do with cheese and biscuits, as we'd seen no shops to buy rolls. It was cloudy, so not too hot.
Looking down to the east coast
The fertile valley below
We reached the North-South coast road at Achada Fazenda, noting as we had yesterday the verdant valley with bananas and palm trees. Children were waking to and from school.
We turned off onto the long and winding cobbled road with hidden topes to Praia Baixo. This almost deserted sandy beach, with its palm leaf palapas made us think of Mexico.
We now took a cobbled cross country route across the southeast of the island. We traversed the productive valley, with its villages of low level houses, with people sitting around. Most were waiting the arrival of the water delivery truck.
The lovely deserted beach at Praia Baixo
We were heading for a beach called San Francisco, but the route wasn't clear. A lady indicated that the road we were on didn't go through. We back tracked a little and eventually came to a new bit of tarmacked road to San Francisco. There was just one other car parked by the exquisite yellow sandy beach, dusted with black sand. Palm trees had been planted on the wide beach. I had a short paddle, before we made our way back on a good tarmacked road towards and then round Praia.
We took another cross country track
Waiting for the water delivery truck
At Cidade Velha, Adrian got some money from a bank, but we were sorry that there didn't appear to be a petrol station here.
Back at our hotel we went down for a swim in the pool, which had been emptied of sea water last night, and refilled this morning. Then it was time for a cup of tea.
We drove back into Cidade Velha tonight to eat. We had stopped outside Terrera di Kultura earlier when Adrian went to the bank, so tried that. Through an unprepossessing entrance, we came to an outside area right above the sea. There was no menu – we were told that there was tuna, so that's what we had. There was an outside oven, which pizza was being cooked in. It was very atmospheric, and quite busy. Afterwards we walked around the 'square', enjoying the warm temperature.
San Francisco beach, Santiago Island - nice place for a paddle
A tuna meal at Terrera di Kultura restaurant, right beside the sea
Saturday 11th November Cidade Velha – the old town 29 km
We went down early to breakfast this morning – 7.30 am when they supposedly opened. They weren't ready yet, and today breakfast was served on the terrace above the sea. Other people began arriving, so we made sure that we got some rolls before they all went! Adrian asked if we could have breakfast early tomorrow, as we need to leave for the airport. The waitress said no, but that seems to be what they say if they don't understand.
Back in our room, we noticed a large group of locals by the pool – maybe because it is Saturday, although the rest of the day was quiet.
We left at 9.30 to see something of Cidade Velha, the oldest town in Cape Verde, where Vasco de Gama had come in 1497. Now there just are a lot of ruins to see around the small village.
The first place we stopped at was the cathedral ruins, which were part way up the hill above the sea. It had been started in 1556, but destroyed by the French in 1712.
We drove on up to the fort, (Forte Real do Sao Felipe), way above the town – we were glad not to be walking! We found that you had to pay to go in (£4 each), although nothing told you where.
Inside the stone building, we paid our money, and it was indicated that there was a video to watch. It was being shown to some visitors, but not in English. We were about to leave, having sat through it for a while, when it finished, and then it was shown in English (although the explanations were in Portuguese!). It consisted of still shots of various ancient ruins in the town.
As we were leaving, we were aware of several groups of older English tourists, each with their numbered guide. We tried to avoid them as we wandered around in the heat. All quite strenuous and rough, so not easy going. We presumed the visitors to be something like a saga cruise, docked at Praia.
The cathedral ruins in Cidade Velha
We drove back down, hoping to find somewhere to have our tea/coffee, but there was no shade, and it was extremely hot. The square was busy with people, including some of the 'tour' people. Locals were drumming, and one dancing, but it seemed a bit contrived for the tourists.
In the end, we sat on a wall under a shady tree.
The fort had been built in 1585 using stone from Lisbon. What a feat to transport all that rock up to build it, in such heat. Canons looked down over the town and sea. Inland you could see the plantations in the Ribeira.
From the fort we could see our hotel - on the coast, near the centre
The canons and the view down to the Ribeira
Afterwards we drove up a sandy lane to view the restored church of Our Lady of Rosario, apparently the oldest church in the tropics, and still used on Sundays.
The pillory and views around the village square
From here, we drove up the dry Ribeira, past the football pitch to see something of the other ruins. The main one was the church of San Francisco, built in 1640 and sacked in 1712, and now partly restored. We began clambering up the rough steps, trying to ignore a lady who was trying to talk to us, assuming that she wanted to be our guide. Only after a while, when she said 'ticket' did we realise that she was collecting the entrance fee, although ours was covered by our entry to the fort! We chuckled as we wandered around, enjoying the bright shrubs, including a deep pink Russian Vine.
The church of Our Lady of Rosario
We stopped in the square to buy a much needed bottle of water from an unlikely looking shop, and arrived back at our hotel at 12.30, feeling VERY hot! We wondered about all those tourists wandering about in the heat.
We had decided that a swim was needed next, so both headed for the pool. I even went on to have a short swim in the inlet of sea.
We made our way up through the village to Sao Francisco church
We had thought of having a snack at the hotel, and saving our rolls for breakfast, but they only seemed to serve meals. Instead, we ate our rolls, looking out of our window to the waves crashing onto the shore.
At 3.30 we set off in the car to drive along the coast to the west, to the end of the road at Porto Mosquito – not an attractive name for a village so full of images.
We stopped briefly before then at a delightful little cove with a derelict stone restaurant, reminding us both of Paronella Park in Australia. The countryside was really dry and barren, with a few mesquite (acacia) trees where water occasionally flowed.
Cooling off in the pool
Porto Mosquito was a feast for the eyes. We drove on cobbles over the worst unmarked topes ever, coming to a little bay crammed with colourful fishing boats. A group of men were carrying one down to the water while people chatted noisily under a shady tree. A fat pig nursed her 6 little piglets. A whole group of children were leaping from the black rocks into the sea while two little boys played on flat concrete bedecked with colourful washing while more was strewn out along a wall. There was the usual arid football pitch, and the ridiculously incongruous set of exercise machines.
‘Paronella Park’ beach
We drove back from this 'idyll' to prepare for the next stage of our trip – flying to Sao Vicente Island tomorrow.
Delightful Porto Mosquito
After paying for the 'tourist tax', and our first night's meal, we drove down into Cidade Velha to eat.
We chose a restaurant just along from last night's, and again right above the beach. We ate grouper and bica fish, with scalloped fried potatoes. It was a wonderful position, with the waves crashing onto the black rocky beach just below us.
The last view of the fort from our window
The waitress seemed most disinterested, but as we went to leave, she asked us (by actions rather than speaking) if we were driving. When we said yes, she indicated that another couple would like a lift. And so we gave a lift to a pleasant Dutch couple who were staying at the hotel just along from us, where we were originally booked into. They were the only guests there they said. They were more or less following the same route as us, just a couple of days behind. We hoped hat we might meet up again.
Dinner above the waves
Boa Vista & Santiago Islands
We went down in search of breakfast, which was through the cafe, and back into a dimly lit room, making us think of the hotel we had in Kefalonia in 1993. Once our eyes had adjusted to the dimness, we found a pleasant array of foods, including freshly baked rolls and lush papaya again.
Before setting out today, we stopped in the half dark foyer to pay the bill, as she wanted the money now, and not at the end. As in the last hotel, there were clocks set with times around the world, but again they were all wrong!
At 10 o'clock we went out to the car. Adrian had seen women walking across the square with pots balanced on their heads.
Adrian therefore changed the booking to a hotel in Cidade Velha, but was then concerned as there was no fridge, and breakfast wasn't included. He changed again to this purpose built resort hotel, but we had our concerns about it. It was a large complex, built above the black rocky coast.
We drove in and found the reception and were led to our upstairs room. It was spacious, with lots of storage space and a view down over the dramatic coast, but sadly no balcony.