Cape Verde day seven
The music of the carnival had still been blaring out when we tried to have an early night, but it had stopped at 11.20 and I slept well until my phone alarm went off at the somewhat ungodly hour of 5.00. It could have been worse, we thought, as our original departure time of 5.15 had been altered to 5.30 - fifteen minutes more in bed! Or so we thought. At 5.15 the phone in our room rang - reception calling to tell us our taxi was here. There had clearly been some mixed messages. Luckily we were just about ready and with a hurried final look round to ensure we hadn't forgotten anything (we later realised that we had left both Chris’s shower gel and my shampoo in the shower!), we were off, through a sleepy Praia on the short drive to the airport.
There we found that the x-ray machine in the old terminal (the new one is due to open next month) consisted of an airport official rummaging briefly through each bag. The inspection was cursory, and I didn’t know whether to be grateful our belongings weren’t too disturbed or concerned that pretty much anything could have been smuggled on board! I settled for the former, as terrorism on inter island flights here seemed highly unlikely
We had a coffee at the café in the departure lounge and after a short wait were able to board our little plane. We were welcomed on board with a heart-shaped lollipop - airline Binter’s Valentine’s gift! I had a window seat but there was no possibility of taking photos as the glass was grubby and daylight only just breaking.
The 35 minute flight passed smoothly and as on the outward journey to Santiago we were served with water and a bag of salted peanuts and corn, obviously the standard Binter offering. It made for an unusual breakfast but not an unpleasant one.
In a further nod to Valentine’s Day, a couple of seat numbers were drawn at random and the ‘lucky’ occupants awarded with ‘I love Binter’ t shirts!
Overnighting on Sal - again
T-shirt shop, Santa Maria
We landed on Sal and were met by a driver for our pre-arranged transfer to the hotel. Tonight we would be staying at the Dunas de Sal, just across the road from the Hilton where we had stayed at the start of the holiday, and a little less smart, although still more than adequate. We were far too early to check in fully (it was still only about 8.30) and although we asked if our room might be ready for us we were told that an early check-in would cost us €69 - a ridiculous sum, we felt, to access a room that was presumably already ready (or it could not have been offered) and which we would only use to leave a suitcase and use the bathroom before heading out. Admittedly it did also include breakfast but we knew we wouldn’t eat enough to make it worth spending that amount, and with breakfast offered separately at €10 per person, the extra €49 seemed hard to justify.
So we left our case behind reception and caught a taxi into the centre of Santa Maria (costing 200 escudos, as it had done in Praia). There we had a stroll to get our bearings. The local motto of 'No stress' was much in evidence in the various shop signs and on souvenirs, and thankfully also in the lack of hassle from locals selling the latter - a nice contrast form some other African countries we've visited.
Wood-carvings for sale
Beauty shop and restaurant
Old door, and sarongs for sale
Santa Maria locals
After walking up and down the main street to get our bearings, we settled on a café for coffee and a croissant - a much more reasonable breakfast than that offered at the hotel, and more than enough to keep us going. While waiting for this we were joined by a friendly tabby cat who decided that our metal table, warmed by the morning sun, would be a great place to curl up for a thorough wash! We let him be for a while, until the coffees and pastries arrived and we needed the table for its more usual purpose.
Our furry friend
We then explored some more, walking out along the pier where we saw fishermen selling their catch and other locals selling shells and small stone carvings which they were making, using rather large knives and even machetes! I noticed that a number of boat trips and tours were on offer here and had we been staying longer would have been tempted to book one of the former at least.
Fish and shells for sale on the pier
Fisherman and tour tout
Cleaning a shell for sale
Stone carver at work
We took some more photos in the various streets around the centre and relaxed on the beach for a short while, watching all the boats coming and going and also a couple of surfers. The wind was much lighter than it had been when we were here six days before, at the start of the trip, so the sea was calmer and almost too much so for surfing.
On the streets of Santa Maria
Ancient harbour, Santa Maria
We had lunch at the Palm Beach Bar right on the beach not far from the pier. My tuna focaccia sandwich was very good (packed with lovely moist fish), as was the fresh orange juice and ice cream I had to follow. We enjoyed relaxing here and watching all the activity on the beach - young boys playing football, older ones using the gym equipment, fruit sellers balancing large bowls on their heads, and all the movement on the water too.
Calmer seas in Sal
In a shop by the beach, and selling fruit and drinks on the beach
After lunch we took a taxi back to the hotel to check in properly. We had a room on the top (second) floor, overlooking the swimming pool. It was simply but nicely decorated, with a comfortable king size bed and balcony overlooking the gardens and pool. We thought about using the latter but the sunny morning had clouded over and turned cooler so instead we spent the afternoon relaxing, catching up on messages, sorting photos etc.
View from our room
Valentine’s Day dinner
Music at the Dunas de Sal
We had dinner this evening in the hotel’s restaurant. They were serving a special three course menu for Valentine’s Day, three courses for €25, which seemed to us to be good value. And the food was all pretty good, with my octopus vol-au-vent starter and the pork wrapped in bacon the main highlights. There was also live music with a good local singer, singing mostly modern songs but also a few Cape Verdean classics, including Soldade. We also enjoyed a bottle of wine from Fogo, Cha - the same we had had a few evenings previously in Praia. It was a pleasant evening to end our short visit to Cape Verde.