|Santo Antão Island|
Wed 25 Feb
I catch the early morning ferry across to neighbouring Santo Antão, a wonderful, volcanic, atmospheric island. I take a bus, first climbing the desert side, then through the clouds and down the fertile side. I stay at the coastal town of Ribeira Grande where the buildings in the main street are 50-100 years old, mostly recently painted in pastel colours.
From Ribeira Grande I get a lift 8km out of town up to a settlement called Boca de Ambas and then take a footpath into the mountains. I climb quite steep gradients, passing peasant homesteads and timeless terraced allotments. Those who can, grow sugar cane to make "grog" (local rum). It's a long way for these folk to carry their produce to market or to get their shopping home from the equivalent of Sainsbury's. The top of the pass is lost in swirling mist, and then more steep gradients down and up again. There's a radio playing pop music and I wonder what it's like for a child here. It's a long walk to school; in fact it's a long walk to anywhere. I finally reach Chã de Igreja where no one is about to drive into town. In fact it takes some negotiation before I can persuade someone to drive me the 15km along a precipitous mountain road back to town.
Back at the hotel I meet a pleasant German couple from Hamburg, she an air-hostess, he a World Bank economist. We dine out together, enjoying each other's company and delicious local lobster.
Thu 26 Feb
There's a minibus taking a couple of formerly wealthy tourists to highest point on the island. I hitch a lift. They are Belgians living and working in Dakar (Senegal). At the summit they arrange for the vehicle to collect them later and we start walking. The first section of our descent is very steep and lost in clouds. I go on ahead and meet a friendly Dutch guy on his way up (now that's what I call impressive). We stop and chat for a while. Later I meet up with the Belgian couple again. We visit a private house selling different types of grog mixed with molasses, fruit juice or coconut cream. We watch a sugar-cane press in action, and enjoy our picnic lunches together, before walking on down to the sleepy coastal village of Paul, and their transport.
Fri 27 Feb
The next day I make an early morning excursion to take photos of the escarpments, and another to a pretty fishing village along the coast called Ponto do Sol, which I decide it would have been a nicer place to stay.
Back in town I make a CD copy of my photos so far and then catch the bus back across the island to Porto Novo for the late afternoon ferry. On the ship, I meet the Dutch guy from the previous day again. He's on his way back to Europe and happily agrees to post my photo CD when he gets home.
The Cape Verde islands are very varied but Santo Antão turns out to be a real gem. It's beautifully mountainous with footpaths to remote homesteads and pretty fishing villages along the coast. There are lots of fresh fish and seafood here; which one can wash down with Portuguese beer, wine, mineral water or even the locally made sugar cane rum. Super trekking; I must nip back here sometime with my walking boots and walking friends.
|Santo Antão Island|