After a gruelling 8 hour flight, with a 2 hour stopover somewhere in Tenerife after an emergency landing, we arrived. For a moment I was excited at the prospect of being in real life Lost, but no, the problem was fixed and we landed on the island of Sal. Cape Verde is a cluster of 10 islands approximately 570 miles off of the West Coast of Africa. Cabo Verde in the native tongue, is a tiny island which is a blend of Portugal, Brazil and Africa with the climate to match. When flying in overhead i had to gulp down a big feeling of disappointment as we descended and so vast stretched of desert came into view. I’ve never been to an island before so i think that’s where my problem lies, having always flown into cities and being dazzled by lights. But there my friend, is actually where the beauty of Cape Verde lies. At the moment it is completely uncommercialised, it is pure and it is beautiful.
Driving around the island was a massive culture shock, “houses” in the distance from main roads were four concrete walls with material sewn together to form a roof and bits of wood constructed together to form extensions. What’s ironic is that there were little children running around in the hot sun in just a pair of pants, and looking happy. In a way i felt guilty for invading their paradise, because it made me feel corrupt. The locals don’t know any other way of life, and that’s what struck me, you can’t miss what you haven’t had. We don’t chose where were born its just luck of the draw really. The people on the island don’t want for anything, the are all content in their lives, without any modern luxuries. The closest they get is the hotel workers who experience a taste of our lives within the hotel complexes which line the southern beaches of the island in Santa Maria. Most inhabitants will probably never leave the island because why should they? Come to England to what? Misery and awful weather. Walking around the local towns its prehistoric. Little houses with brightly painted wooden shutters line the roads and tourist shops are on every corner. The island makes most of its money through the tourism market so its no surprise that every local was charmingly polite and kind, be it for the prospect of a few euros maybe, but that’s not the point. It has a closed local currency of escudo which are roughly 1.00 GBP = 139 CVE. It was so refreshing to not see a McDonalds, Starbucks or Primark,. Funnily enough on that last note, in one of the shops my sister pointed out to me a Primark chain headband hanging in a shop with a €15 tag on it (around £13) which shows just how little they know.
We went on a few ecursion, out on a catamaran one day into Murdeira Bay which was anchored up and we could jump of and swim/scuba in the sea or sunbathe on nets at the front of the boat, and we went dirt riding one afternoon which is insane and i didn’t like it much as your flying across the desert at like 50mph with dirt and wind flying into your eyes and you can barely see through the cloud of dirt that the car infront has kicked up ha, also we went to visit the famous salt lakes, salt is sal in portuguese and is what the island was named after. They mine salt from big lakes, not that you could guess that, and ship it across the world. You can swim in the lakes which is a really strange experience as you literally cannot sink as the water is so dense with salt particles, you just float on the top of the water!
When we weren’t out exploring the island we mostly relaxed at the hotel sunbathing or on the beach swimming. The beaches and the hotel are the main incentives to go to Cape Verde as they are simply stunning. We stayed at the Riu Hotels which are always amazing and it led right onto the beach which was bright white sand and crystal clear turquoise water. If you’re looking for a no stress relaxing shorter length holiday in the next few years then I would definitely recommend this destination. However its quite clear that interest in the island is getting alot stronger as there are hundreds of new hotel complex in construction all over the south end of the island which will be completed in a few years. Regretfully I can see that in 10 years time the island will probably be much fully populated and lose most of the charm that it possesses.