Cape Verde

We leave from Schiphol to Cape Verde. Cape Verde is an island group of ten islands in western Africa. These islands belonged to Portugal until 1975. The islands are called Cabo Verde in Portuguese. This means “Green Cape”, because the Portuguese referred to the greener Dakar (Senegal) on the mainland around the corner. Unfortunately, Cape Verde is not that green. Most islands are dry, such as Sal where we go. At first I was informed by people at home that nothing was growing in Sal. This is almost true, in the resorts there are beautiful green gardens with beautiful palm trees and shrubs with flowers and grass. Outside, some bushes grow here and there along the road, but they are very much in need of water.

Day 1 in Cape Verde: At midnight (in the Netherlands it is 3 a.m.) we land at Sal. It is dark in Sal around 6 p.m. On the way to the hotel we unfortunately don’t see a lot of the country from the bus, except that it seems to be dry with bushes on the roadside like on Bonaire.

We start breakfast early in the morning. I have never seen so much food for breakfast “food heaven”. There is plenty of everything. Fresh fruit, warm savoury or sweet food. It is also not only a lot, but also really tasty. I would like to taste everything, but then it’s not good for my stomach 😉 I take delicious fresh fruit and a tomato with egg.

We take a taxi to Santa Maria towards the pier. A one-way trip from Hotel RIU Funana (5 minutes’ drive) costs 3 to 4 euros. In Cape Verde you can pay with Euro or Escudo. 1 Euro is 110 Escudo. To the right, about 100 meters from the pier we see the kite school that we contacted prior to arrival for kite lessons. I introduce myself to the people at the kite surf school and request for information on where we could best kit and foil on Sal. From the pier we take a taxi to “Kitesurf Beach”. This is around 10 minutes’ drive and costs 7 euros. The kite season is from December to February. Teresa, a cool lady and the only female taxi driver from Sal (she says) informs us that the sky is full of kites. According to Teresa, there are around 30,000 residents on the island and around 400 taxi drivers. The taxis (all in the same colour as light blue with a yellow line) are used almost exclusively by tourists. All taxis are owned by taxi drivers, they do not work for a company. People drive very well here.

Kitesurf Beach is somewhere off road. From the main paved road, you drive on a bad sandy road to the beach. When we arrive at Kite Surf Beach we see 3 wooden houses, in 1 of which kite gear is rented out. There would also be a restaurant but there is no toilet. At least we asked once if we could get paid to the toilet, we were told that there would be no running water so that there was no toilet. Although it is low season there are still a number of people who are kiting or have kite lessons. The sea is rough, the waves are wild. The waves and currents seem to be wilder than in the Netherlands, it makes me nervous. Fortunately this afternoon practicing with the kite in the wind on the beach, at least I hope so. I am sure that if I am a master of the wind and know that my kite goes where I want, that I will feel safe on the water ..

The following days: I have my first kite lessons, it is very cool but I still find the waves too scary. While I have to watch my kite, I pay too much attention to the waves. I decide to take further lessons in the Netherlands. And dedicate a whole blog about this.

We have decided to rent a small car. Taking a taxi every time is more expensive than renting a small car of 35 euros a day. Gasoline costs 1 euro per litre. With the car we are flexible to go everywhere whenever we want.

We drove a few times to the other side of the island. It is approximately a 20 to 30 minute drive from Santa Maria. Along the way we see some lifters. Between Santa Maria and the city on the other side of the island, we see a large area with luxury apartments, probably guarded. Along the way we see something that looks like a prison. Teresa, the taxi driver told us that since 3 years they also have a prison on Sal. After 20-30 minutes we find the city where the most Cape Verdean people live. There are nice finished buildings but most buildings are half finished or poorly maintained. From the buildings that are half finished, the bottom of the building has been nicely painted (finished) and the top is not yet finished. Does that have to do with taxes or do they build whenever there is enough income? Children play on the street with a tennis ball that they use as football. And there are many people on the street. The real street life on Sal. It’s nice to see them enjoying the outdoors. Unfortunately we have no toys to give to them so we give them candy. The children are happy and the adults raise their thumbs up with a smile.

Among other things, we took a dive in the sea via the Eco dive centre in Santa Maria. The dive centre is run by a South African and his German wife. They live in Sal with their two sons. Our Dive Master is called Elton, he has guided us very well under water. He showed all the beauty very calmly. We have seen squid and lobsters, among other things. Elton is not an instructor who swims far ahead and where you have to make an effort to keep up with him. He kept us well on and under the water in the gate which was very nice. Highly recommended to take a dive with him when you are in Sal.

To the left of the dive centre, on the beach is a super cool restaurant. You can, among other things, follow Yoga on Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning from 7.30 a.m. to 8.30 p.m. We had put this on our list but we did not manage to be there so early. It’s vacation anyway, waking up slowly is so nice! On one of the last days I am wrote this blog in the super cool open restaurant. The restaurant that also has a surf school attached to it is beautifully situated on the beach. It is run by a couple, the man is from Hawaii and the woman is from here (Sal). 200 meters further on, they also incorporated a hotel with a lot of wood in the building. Who knows on our next visit that we will take an apartment or hotel near the pier.

Tips Sal, Cape Verde: If you enjoy a holiday with sun, beach and all you can eat, especially fish? Then you can easily go to Cape Verde. But if you want, you can also look closer in Europe. Cape Verde has its charm, a resort is nice (we recommend RIO Funana) but it is a shame to hang out alone in a resort. The people of Cape Verde are very nice and the fish is so nice and fresh! If you like meat you can also eat it here, but almost everything except fish (including meat, vegetables and fruit) is imported and is more expensive and less fresh. Apart from chicken, the meat here also seems to be of lesser quality. Minced meat looks and smells like a mix of pork and goat meat. Cape Verde is not a destination to go there for shopping, everything is imported and is expensive. There are therefore not many stores where you can buy beautiful clothes. Most of the clothes that are sold are similar. We did go to the Mitu store in Santa Monica, a famous strapless kiter (one of the hero’s of the locals) here at Sal. If you want to buy toys for children, then you better get it in the Netherlands, we don’t find any toys in the stores here. A one-hour massage session costs 20 (at Santa Maria) and 30 euros (at a Dutch-speaking Cape Verde) and 60 euros at the resort. Oh by the way.. you can pay in Euros or Escudos.

I put Cape Verde on my list of short sun destinations near home. When I come back here, the stay will be an apartment or hotel in Santa Maria (close to the pier). You can eat well here in a restaurant or buy fresh fish at the pier, which they have just caught and grill on the BBQ. You’ll enjoy the beach and watching the people. Enough to do to chill for 1 week.