aka Llha Do Sal, my first trip abroad in 2014.
In the plane as I arrived at one of the 10 islands that made up Cape Verde, I primarily noticed the clear blue-green ocean glistening against the sun. It looked beautiful as it eventually splashed onto the brown dry desert-like plains of the island. It was a peculiar sight.
At first glance, Sal seemed abandoned except for the airport and a plane or two. After being separated from my family in the air-plane due to a late check-in, we reunited and proceeded straight to passport control. As my passport came late, my visa was not prearranged so I went to the “Visa request” queue and got it sorted quickly for 25 euros.
We arrived at our hotel and for the week, we mostly relaxed, either by the pool or the beach. We quickly learned that Cape Verdians usually speak Creole but their official language is Portugese. The weather was perfect as it was warm but not too hot that you were stifled by the heat and unable to do basic tasks. The cuisine consisted of seafood which I generally enjoyed (and yes, I tried as much as I could).
Within Sal, two towns exists – Santa Maria and Espargos. Santa Maria hosts a fusion of cultures that celebrates Portuguese, Brazilian and west African influences. The small town consists of a small museum, a school and bars that cater to locals, expats and tourists. It has a active nightlife so there is something to do if you want to go out. Finally, it also has one of the most beautiful beaches I have seen so far.
Espargos means Asparagus in English, a petite town that is known for its abundance of the vegetable. Consisting predominately of locals, Espargos expresses the charms of its residents. Overall, the people of Sal are very polite and courteous and they stick to their slogan of “No Stress’, which is exactly what the island is.
During a walking tour, we visited an after school centre called Castella de Sal. In Cape Verde, children only attended school for half a day and some of the poorer ones spend the rest of their time begging. Castella de Sal is a project set up to keep children of the streets begging and in turn, safe. We thought it was a great initiative and me and my siblings returned to volunteer for a day to help the staff with whatever they needed and to also interact with the kids. Many of them do not have basic provisions such as a healthy meal and dental supplies so the centre supplements this. The staff also take some of them each week to the doctor and dentist for a checkup.
It was truly a rewarding experience, as my sister said “Despite the language barrier, the happiness and laughter in the classrooms transcended everything and it was the most fun I have had in a long time.”
We also took an excusion to visit the whole island. This included a visit to the island’s attractions such as Shark’s Bay and the salt mines. There are many people offering excusions so tourists usually have a number to choose from.
If you plan to visit in the future, consider bringing school supplies and medicine! Paracetamol, which can cost a mere 16p, fetches up to 8 Euros in the Island. This is because almost everything is imported so all the prices are jacked up. In addition to the fact that the local salary averaged from about 200-400 euros a month, it would be appreciated.
My images and words simply do not give the island justice so I would recommend for everybody to visit :). I’m definitely glad I went and in future, I would hope to visit and explore the other islands.