Cape Verde (/ˈvɜːrd(i)/) or Cabo Verde (/ˌkɑːboʊ ˈvɜːrdeɪ/, /ˌkæb-/) (Portuguese: Cabo Verde, pronounced [ˈkabu ˈveɾdɨ]), officially the Republic of Cabo Verde, is an island country spanning an archipelago of 10 volcanic islands in the central Atlantic Ocean. It forms part of the Macaronesia ecoregion, along with the Azores, Canary Islands, Madeira, and the Savage Isles. Located 570 kilometres (350 mi) west of the Cape Verde Peninsula off the coast of Northwest Africa, the islands cover a combined area of slightly over 4,000 square kilometres (1,500 sq mi).
The Cape Verde archipelago was uninhabited until the 15th century, when Portuguese explorers discovered and colonized the islands, establishing the first European settlement in the tropics. Ideally located for the Atlantic slave trade, the islands grew prosperous throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, attracting merchants, privateers, and pirates. The end of transatlantic slavery in the 19th century led to economic decline and emigration. Cape Verde gradually recovered as an important commercial center and stopover for shipping routes. Incorporated as an overseas department of Portugal in 1951, the islands continued to campaign for independence, which was achieved in 1975.
Since the early 1990s, Cape Verde has been a stable representative democracy, and remains one of the most developed and democratic countries in Africa. Lacking natural resources, its developing economy is mostly service-oriented, with a growing focus on tourism and foreign investment. Its population of around 540,000 is mostly of mixed European, Moorish, Arab and African heritage, and predominantly Roman Catholic, reflecting the legacy of Portuguese rule. A sizeable diaspora community exists across the world, slightly outnumbering inhabitants on the islands.
Historically, the name "Cape Verde" has been used in English for the archipelago and, since independence in 1975, for the country. In 2013, the Cape Verdean government determined that the Portuguese designation Cabo Verde would henceforth be used for official purposes, as at the United Nations, even in English contexts. Cape Verde is a member of the African Union.
Sal (Portuguese for "salt") is an island in Cape Verde. It belongs to the northern group of islands, called Barlavento ("windwards"), and comprises a single administrative division, the municipality of Sal. Its seat is the city of Espargos.
The island is 29.7 km long and 11.8 km wide. Its area is 219.8 km2. It is one of the three sandy eastern islands (Sal, Boa Vista and Maio) of the archipelago, with white sandy beaches. The island is fairly flat; its highest point is Monte Grande, at 406 m elevation. The uninhabited islet Ilhéu Rabo de Junco lies near the west coast of Sal. Saline marshes can be found in the Pedra de Lume crater and north of Santa Maria.
Sunday October 22nd, 2017: Departure via Schiphol
Night from Saturday 21st to Sunday October 22nd, 2017: get up at a quarter to two. Early, both for us and for Arne, but he can stay in for half an hour. We get ready and put a few more things away and then put everything in the car. Then we wake up Arne and leave for Schiphol. It's not easy on the way, because it sometimes rains incredibly badly. Other times it only rains a little bit, but sometimes it falls out incredibly hard. In an hour and a half, we arrive at the parking lot. Nobody has slept, not me because I was driving, but not Arne and therefore Evy neither. As long as that's okay. We only must wait five minutes and then they take us to the airport through the pouring rain. We drop off our luggage via the e-check-in and it all goes smoothly. Let's get used to it, because we haven't done this very often yet. We don't stay here, because we can eat something in the meantime. So, we go through customs control. There Arne and Evy go first and they ask for Mr. De Smedt, so I join them. Maybe to avoid that mothers take their children with them or so without the dad's knowledge. We stop at Bread, where we look for a toilet and dress Arne, who was still wearing his pyjamas. We eat something (croissant, raisin biscuit, sandwich and warm baguette) and drink a coffee and a Fristi with it.
We arrived on time, so no need to rush. We buy a few things tax free and then we can go to gate G7. The long flights the last time we left Schiphol we always had these G gates, so we already know our way around. After about half an hour we can board and put ourselves in row 11 D, E and F. It's probably not true that we can leave on time, because lately I had heard a lot of bad news about Schiphol: too busy and not many planes leave on time. So, this time it's five minutes late, so you can say: on time. So here we go for the next few hours. First five hours and a quarter to Boa Vista, wait there for a while, people on and others off (in reverse order 😊) and then another ten minutes from Boa Vista to Sal. Half an hour and we see the sun rise on the other side of the plane and the sun will shine for us a few more hours, because it is three hours earlier at Sal than in Belgium. We soon get a snack and can play a game or watch a DVD. Arne is nice and so are we. That way we can keep going for a couple of hours and then we want to stretch our legs. We go to the toilet and then sit down again.
So, time goes fast and after four and a half hours we get something to eat. Arne doesn't like it very much and indeed that’s an understatement. Mayonnaise, that is being warmed up again, is not nice and spoils everything that has come into contact with it. Somewhat before schedule we land on Boa Vista after lunch. For some the holiday starts here and for those who get on, it's over. They fly along to Sal and from there to Amsterdam. We are still ten minutes on the plane to Sal and then we can get out. In total we are one hour faster than planned. That's never bad of course, but hopefully that won't cause any problems in the hotel. We get out, pass through customs, get a stamp in our passports and can then wait for the luggage. We are the first to come out with the luggage and can go to bus 3. There we must wait for everyone to arrive, the traditional speech of the stewardess and then twenty minutes through a barren landscape to Santa Maria, hotel Sol Dunas.
When we get there they already do some of the necessary papers, but the rooms aren't ready yet: we can't get in until three o'clock and it's now half past twelve. Hmm, not so nice that the plane was an hour earlier. We wait half an hour, drink something, because we already have our All-in straps and then I'm going to ask again. We have room 1314 and the bellboys will help us outside. There is one that labels our suitcases and then it's a while before they pick us up and our luggage. But it doesn't take long. In the room we notice that it really is a 2-bedroom suite: 2 full bathrooms, 2 full bedrooms, a mega living room, even a kitchen, sitting area with TV and 2 balconies and not even the smallest. We unpack a bit, put on our swimwear and then go to the children's pool to do a splash. All three of us are really happy about that. We still have some time, because it's only three o'clock in the afternoon and we can already have a drink: bottled water, a cuba libre and a mojito: a nice start here. We had already received a soda at check-in. We see right away that Arne is going to have a great time here, because there is a lot to do and there are a few children with whom he already plays along. Around five o'clock we go to the room, I take a quick shower and then we walk to the reception and the restaurant. Wait another ten minutes and then we can eat.
We do this quickly, not too much and not too long, because we are all tired. The food is well taken care of and we are the first to arrive. We have a lot of choice and everything looks great. A bonus that this is really the case. Immediately after dinner we go back to our room on foot, at least ten minutes on foot along three of the seven swimming pools here. We put Arne directly in his bed, we watch half an hour of TV, but we are tired because of the trip and the long day. We were almost 23 hours awake, so it must have been good then for sure. Hopefully we wake up a bit less early tomorrow.
Monday October 23rd, 2017: Arranging dives and swimming at the children's pool
A restless night, but after such a long day yesterday and a new room, new country, everything new is that not so surprising and we’re awake at 6 am. Still too early to have breakfast, so we stay in bed for a while, unpack a bit later and then it's seven o'clock when we can go to the restaurant. Great! Our first breakfast on Cabo Verde. Again, it's a buffet, so we choose everything: fruit, pancakes, croissants, eggs and everyone eats a lot. The coffee here is also incredibly tasty: delicious. After breakfast we walk to the beach to sign up for the dives. Then today everything has been arranged. At the reception we leave, walk along the large swimming pool, then pass the boulevard with shops and we arrive at the beach. It looks nice. A huge beach with a calm sea at the moment, hopefully tomorrow as well. We follow the stone path along the beach to the dive centre, on the way we have been harassed several times to do excursions, but we don't react on that now.
At the dive centre we are kindly welcomed, and I can fill out all the papers and confirm that I will do two dives tomorrow and Thursday. I'll be back later to hand in my diving equipment so that it doesn't have to be done tomorrow. Everything is arranged, and the dives start at half past eight and normally we will be back by twelve or twelve thirty. It is with a zodiac, so no dry space on board. And I suddenly think of an hour of surface interval on a zodiac: hmm, can be easier and more pleasant. But we'll see about that tomorrow. We return to the hotel, Arne and I through the sand and stop in the room to ensure we can swim as soon as possible, and then we go to the TUI information moment. But first we have to find a place in the shade and that goes smoothly. In the corner we see two sun loungers which we move a bit and put in the shade. We put some sun cream on Arne and he can already enter the water. It's easier to hear now that he's almost four years old. An hour to cool down, because the walk to the dive centre is long and it is already very hot. We cool down in the water once in a while and an hour is immediately over. We go to the reception to hear what they have to say and get a Walloon who speaks very good Dutch, who will tell us everything about Sal. First about the hotel, then about Cabo Verde, Sal and Santa Maria. The shortest part is about the excursions, but already extensive enough. We book a bus trip, round trip around the island for Saturday and then we can eat something small. Again, a buffet with clearly leftovers from yesterday.
After lunch back to the pool and again we are lucky that there is a place in the shade. We don't leave here until about five o'clock and enjoy the sun, the water in the pool and Arne who has a great time with another Flemish boy and a Dutch one. No need to move anymore, that goes for Arne and Evy, because at half past two I leave for the room to get my equipment and go to the diving centre. Jacket on, the rest in a bag and so on the same trip as this morning. Maybe I should have called the reception to drive me there, but hey, I can do this too. I take some water and that turns out to be no luxury. At twenty minutes I arrive there and put all my stuff in box 18. They write down everything I bring in, so that I will definitely get everything back and then I walk back to the swimming pool. The water was already empty on the way there, but without all the weight it still works out fine for me. In total I am gone for about 45 minutes and the first thing I do is say hello to my sweetheart and say goodbye to my sweetheart. Swimming pool and cooling down. Just play with Arne and then he shows that he prefers to play with his new friends. Not bad boy: as long as you enjoy yourself. We sometimes go into the water ourselves but stay in the shade and drink a lot of water.
As an aperitif a cuba libre and a cava and then another one to take to the room. We enjoyed our afternoon and so did Arne. He walked up the stairs, down the slide, up the stairs, down the slide, teasing a Dutch man with his two friends, up the stairs, down the slide and then it's time to say goodbye to his friends and to the swimming pool. We return to the room and take a shower to get something to eat at half past six. Again, the same restaurant, maybe we'll try another one in the next few days, but today we'll stop there. Everything went smoothly, only dinner is a bit difficult: maybe Arne still has some problems with the long day yesterday, so we do have some understanding for it. After dinner we have a dessert and then take the golf carts back to our room: that's nice and easy. They don't only drive during the day for people who check in or check out, but also during the day and in the evening to bring lazy people like us to the room. Arne goes straight to bed and we write and read until about nine o'clock and then go to sleep. We too are a bit tired from yesterday. Don't get up too late tomorrow and dive one morning.
Tuesday 24 October 2017: Diving: 3 grotes and Mushroom and chill by the pool
Today we are awake before Arne, not like yesterday that he first comes here to make noise and we didn't hear him this night, so all three slept very well. We wake up slowly and then the drill for the dive starts. Making sure the camera is okay and making sure that I have everything else with me. It takes less than half an hour, so we are well in time to leave for the dive centre. But we have to eat breakfast first. We go to the restaurant at the reception, eat something small, especially me, because before the dives I normally eat little or nothing. Also, this time just a sandwich and a banana. Arne eats even more than I do. Then, in the morning sun, we start the walk to the diving centre: the same road I took twice yesterday, but now without all that weight, although such a camera can weigh an incredible amount.
Within half an hour we're there with a stop in between and we're the third: two British guys, Kevin and Derek are waiting on the sidewalk, because the centre is still completely closed. They say about Sal and Cabo Verde in general that everything is going slowly and at ease and so it turns out already. After five minutes we can enter and divemaster Davi gives me a hand. Put everything in a big net, shoes and suit and then already take briefing. We go to 3 caves: three caves with a maximum depth of about 20 metres: cave in, second cave in, third cave in and back. Or at the next dive site drop us and drift dive. I say goodbye to Evy and Arne for half a day and then I take everything to the zodiac to load everything there. In the meantime, I talk a bit with the two British and the French who also dive with me. Well, as always as a Flemish person you can take part in a conversation in all languages, but Kevin knows some French. Wow, amazing. We start the ride right away and sail quietly away from the coast: at the same time, we have to put our gear together and once everyone is ready, it goes faster. In about fifteen minutes we're at the tip of Sal and we can also see Santa Maria in the distance. There are no big waves, except when they break on the sandy beach, a really nice beach here. I also dive with Davi and the rest together, so everyone is in the water and the dive can start.
Along the buoy line to the front of the boat, then quietly descend and the dive can now really start. At first, we stopped for the normal 3 grotes to do, but now it will be a drift dive. We descend and immediately we see a purple nudibranch with white dots, a wonderful start. We dive against the current for a while, but soon we follow the current along the wall on our right side. We don't pass three caves, but we pass more. The first one is actually only a small inlet, but there I see a scorpion fish. In each alcove there are a couple of trumpetfish and a couple of big-eyed groupers: the red ones with the big dark eyes. Really beautiful. A couple of butterflyfish also pass us, and we see them a couple of times. Three little moray eels are fighting for a small spider crab and that one we see swimming freely and it finally has what it needs. Blessed to see. A little further on I can easily see the crabs and also a porcupinefish. It's great that they are here too. And for my sweetheart a few pictures of starfish of course. A bit further on a couple of the same kind of nudibranch and we see it ten times, once even with two together. We can swim into the next cave and that's nice. Very nice even, when you swim outside and see the blue sea in front of you with the red bass between you and the wall. They really have to get out of the way, quite impressive. And then there is the fact that just at the exit there are two moray eels right on top of each other, also very nice. So, the dive continues quietly. In the coves we also see a yellow kind of plant, I think, really great in colour to stand out against the red fish.
We are only half an hour away now and it is already a great dive. Squids are also in the caves, just like an incredible amount of fire worms on the wall, which we still follow with the current. The last cave is really the super one. Slightly larger than the rest and here you have a really great view inside the cave and it is even more beautiful when you swim outside. And just at the exit I see a crab or lobster with a shell on its back, so I think a kind of hermit crab, but really beautiful again. And just five minutes before we finish the dive, a nudibranch emerges. No, really a huge one; the size of a few centimetres. The names you will get with the pictures. And then it's finished: make our safety stop at the buoy line and then to the surface. We drop everything off, go to the back of the boat and then climb in along the mini ladder. Just catch our breath and then get everything ready for the second dive. It shouldn't be really fast, but you shouldn't relax too much either: they immediately set course for dive site two. We have now arrived at Mushroom, I have no idea - not even after the dive - why they call it that, because I haven't seen a single mushroom. First a short briefing, but it can also be adjusted according to the current.
We'll rest, and they'll tell us, in ten minutes we'll need to get ready. The same rules as before: fall in backwards, take the camera if applicable and then descend at the front part of the boat. This goes smoothly and soon we're back at around ten metres. It seems like a tradition already, because I immediately see a scorpion fish and so we can continue along the wall. This time again on our right side. This place is completely different from the previous one: much more sand, less wall, because it's only a metre high here. We leave the wall at the beginning of the dive and dive over it, against the current and I don't like that very much of course. But it will be okay. A quarter of an hour along with the current and against it, we're going to have made a lot of progress and now we can follow the wall on our left side and have a little less current. We see a lot of sand and strange little purple flowers growing on the ground, never seen that before, but they are like small roses, funny and beautiful. The snails are abundant here, but always the same purple one. Trumpetfish, perch, the same as before. We sometimes dive in or along a mini-canyon and that's great fun too. A couple of barbels love to look for food in the sand and lizardfish remain motionless until you want to photograph them: that's what Kevin and I have experienced. And then we stop at the third kind of slug for the day: it really can't break my day anymore. This time a long white narrow one with white plume and light lilac spots at the top, really beautiful. I also spot some nice tubeworms and am happy with the pictures of some parrotfish: red with a yellow spot at the back and grey at the front. You don't often see the latter colour in nature, especially under water. A small pufferfish comes to keep me company for a while and this time I also see a lot of trumpetfish and a single porcupinefish. Just like the previous dive it is done after about 55 minutes, but really great, although the first dive was much better than the second one.
We follow the same routine to get on board, put all the equipment back in the bags and can then return to the dive centre in ten minutes; we are back between 12 and 12:30: perfectly timed, as I said before. I rinse my equipment and hang it to dry and then, after saying goodbye to Kevin and Derek, I walk to the pool. Arne is still playing there, I'm just joining in, because I'm also very happy with the cooling down. I still have a lot of stuff here, so we eat something nearby and Arne loves it, because they have fries with hamburger. Yay, yay. And it tastes good to us too. We just have to see that we stay out of the sun a bit, because it's hot today and we don't want to sleep like lobsters yet. Arne got two water jets and a pair of swimming goggles from his mum, so he’s having fun like hell. After lunch, he of course continues to play with it and actually we don't look forward to it, because he plays with a Flemish boy, Vince and a Dutch one, Jasper. Those three are having a great time here. Really great to see them busy. So, I quickly take my camera and such to the room.
Evy then goes to the reception to see if she can get a pedicure. That works for now and I get a quick confirmation via chat, so the WiFi is really easy here. I keep an eye on the three musketeers and play along for a while, so the hour is quickly over. I'm just sitting in the water with the other kids and we're having a great time. We take a rest in the shade and then we take turns to find out who is in the water with the children. Vince's parents do the same thing now and then, but we really shouldn't keep an eye on them. Time goes really unbelievably fast, because the sun is starting to set and now we can also come out of the shade under the evening sun. We go into the water for a while and then back to the room, take a shower, and go to Spices' restaurant for a bite to eat. Arne eats a lot again, just like this afternoon. I think he's starting to feel better about himself. After dinner he can have a look at Paw Patrol, but he is very tired, because his eyes are almost falling down, so he can go to bed. Around ten o'clock we also go to sleep, because it has been a busy day for us as well, very relaxed, but constantly busy with diving, keeping Arne busy and keeping an eye on him, so we are happy when we see our bed.
Wednesday October 25th, 2017: Santa Maria and swimming pool
For the second day in a row, Evy and I are awake first. By the time the sun starts to rise, Arne wakes up as well. We had stayed in bed for a while, but the rest was quickly done when our little boy woke up. We don't have to go anywhere special today, but we did have plans for a trip to Santa Maria. The bus picks us up at the hotel at 9, 10 and 11 and brings us back at 4, 5 and 6. The drive back will probably be by taxi, but first we have breakfast. We already take everything with us to go to the city and eat quietly and calmly. After a few days the coffee is still good and so is the breakfast. Super restaurant. Today is even busier than the last few days, because they have now opened two doors to the restaurant. Arne drinks milk and eats a pancake, croissants and a dry sandwich. But we are glad that he finally eats well here, after having been a bit difficult the first few days. That's over quickly.
We are getting ready to go to the reception to take the bus to Santa Maria: a free shuttle bus from the hotel. We are a quarter of an hour early and Arne is playing a bit. Then suddenly we see one of the bellboys pulling him away from the windows. There is now a big white stripe on it. He had stood against the wall that had just been painted this morning. Well, arm completely white, so we went straight to the toilet to try to wash everything off. Luckily, he is still doing pretty well, only his shirt of the Red Devils has been ruined. We will ask the Sinterklaas to bring a new one in a larger size. Arne and I come back just in time, because the bus is there. Everyone is racing to the door to get in, but we've been here for a while and have to get on this bus for sure and that works out as fourth, fifth and sixth. Done. Now on our way to Santa Maria. The ride to Santa Maria only takes ten minutes, really not long, so they can indeed offer this for free from the hotel. Just outside the hotel we end up in a wasteland on more or less OK roads. There are even roundabouts. And then all of a sudden, the sand and the small bushes make way for buildings, the first one is a petrol station. Weird to see that a litre of gasoline here is actually quite expensive. In comparison with Belgium of course not, but if you know that they earn about 150 to 200 euros per month, then 1 Euro per litre is really a lot. On the other hand, the island is only thirty kilometres, so they don't have to do a lot of distances here. For example, they will never have to do 50 kilometres to work.
We are dropped off at the taxi stop, but there is not a single taxi to be seen. We walk a bit and immediately notice that it's very hot, so we stop in the shade of a palm tree with a view of the sea to make sure we put on sun cream. Even I make the effort to put it on in this heat, otherwise it could end badly. It's always around 35 degrees in the shade with a strong wind, so you don't feel that you’re getting sunburnt and the wind makes it all the easier. Then we take our first steps in Santa Maria. Immediately we see the small church with the kindergarten next to it, or so we think. From here the route goes straight on without really knowing where to go. Of course, we don't have the map we got at the information meeting with us, stupid. There is probably not much to see here anyway, because according to the map there were only five streets and they are all near the coast. We mainly want to buy magnets here, because they would be far too expensive in the shops of the hotel and the choice there will be less. When it comes to buying, you do your best with the least intrusive ones, because those are the local people. The others there are from Guinea or Senegal. We immediately notice the difference. Someone we don't recognize follows us, but works as a salesman at the hotel on the beach. He guides us for a while, but that's mainly to lure us to his shop. Check: Senegalese, so don't buy. We walk through the streets on the cobblestones and pass shop after shop.
We leave the first couple behind, because they want to lure us in and we don't want take part in that. On the corner of a street are 2 shops next to each other and those people leave us alone. Here we take a look and the girl only says good morning and leaves us alone: someone from Cabo Verde. We find some beautiful magnets here and we buy them. Only a pity that we don't find a soccer jersey in Arne's size here, because they are really beautiful. After our purchase we walk further between the houses, that almost are ruins. Either they're under construction with iron huts in front of them or they're just dark brown, but every twenty meters we see a very colourful little house between them and they're really nice. That is the reason why they call Cabo Verde the Caribbean of Africa. The colourful facades usually house shops as well and there they sell colourful paintings sometimes, I can't call them beautiful, but they do seem authentic. Nice to see this too. We also meet some women with large plastic containers on their heads. They carry fruit or other things they need or want to sell. We walk out of this street and then return on a parallel road, still on cobblestones. At the end we have to find our way, but we see the sea and can just follow the direction of the beach to reach the pier.
On our way there we're still being harassed by non-Cabo Verdeans, so we still don't buy anything. Difficult when they start using Arne to lure the parents in: we certainly don't participate in that. We walk around for about an hour and arrive at the pier. Here a couple of women and men are cleaning fish and selling a few things. Soon large fishing boats should arrive here, but we don't wait for that. We take a look at the fish they have caught and at the fish that swim under the pier. A mega school of small fish, because they eat the leftovers they throw in the water. Really a black cloud under water. From above we even see a porcupinefish and a puffer. We think we have seen it here, go somewhere for a drink. The fishing boats should be returning by now, but they are still not there. For Arne it takes about three hours of walking here, so we take a short detour and then take a taxi back to the hotel. For three Euros they bring you back. For a moment one of the sellers went too far, because he took Arne by the arm to let him look at the magnets away from us: hmm, that won't work out for a while. I found out and I apologize immediately, so no problem. Then a hellish taxi ride back to the hotel.
First, we go to the room, get our stuff, go into the water and then have something to eat nearby. Again, a hamburger with fries, but Arne doesn't mind and in itself he eats a lot, so he’s good. It won't be every day here, that he eats fries, but we're on holiday, that's what it is for him. Then back to the pool and we still have our seats. We do sit in the sun while there are ten sunbeds free in the shade with just towels on it and I get a little angry, but that is quickly over. We have fun with Arne in the water, each taking turns resting and playing with Arne until around four o'clock his Dutch friend Jasper arrives. Then we don't have much more to say and they play together. Until half past five we can stay seated and then it's much more pleasant, because the sun gives less heat, but still it's still 27° when we sit at the table a bit later. After a shower and some playing in the room, we have something to eat. Arne eats a lot, and so do we and we enjoy the delicious food and a glass of wine. Then back to the room, this time with a golf cart and have a nice meeting with a lady with two children who just arrived here. We enter our room, quickly watch an episode of Paw Patrol on DVD and then go to bed. We sit on our balcony for a while, but again we won't be able to make it here for long. Around half past nine, ten o'clock we are in bed.
Thursday October 26th, 2017: Diving on two wrecks
Today day two of the diving with dives three and four. Let's see what it will give today. We get up at half past six, make everything ready, especially me, my camera and stuff and Evy is already setting preparing everything, so she doesn't have to look too long for the swimming gear when she and Arne go to the pool. We leave on time for breakfast and from there we set course for the diving centre. From the large swimming pool at the reception we go downstairs, past all the shops again, fortunately they're not open yet and that's how we reach the beach. We should be able to get here as well. Maybe when Evy does her massage. Then the road goes along the beach to the dive centre that is not yet open. There are eight people to dive today, looks a lot to be on an RIB, but there is one person who comes to cancel and the other two just don't show up, so just like last time there are only five of us.
I already know the drill and prepare everything, I help another diver Maarten and then we’re ready to dive. Evy and Arne already want to go to the pool, especially Arne, so they leave already. See you this afternoon, darlings. Davi is again the divemaster and he divides the teams: a Dutchman dives with him, Maarten and I together and two British (father and son) dive together as well. Well organised. We get the briefing about the first wreck, but it may change, which will also be the case. Everyone is ready, so we leave for the water while Maarten and I have a chat. We are already on the boat and only then do we realize that we both speak Dutch, so from now on we will continue in Dutch. Everything on the boat, prepare the diving tank and then the RIB can set course for Santa Maria. Just before the coast is the first dive site, Boris with a fairly large wreck. We go into the water, slowly descend to the wreck and then start to discover it. Maarten and I stay a bit behind, because Davi is giving good throttle again, but we are in a buddy team, so everything is OK. The wreck is littered with fire worms, so be careful.
We dive along the shore for a while, we stay about 15 minutes here, so it's a bit too short to explore a large part of the wreck. We do see trumpetfish, some of those crustaceans and this time they are well photographed a couple of times. A moray eel comes out of a hole and then it's time to leave the wreckage. The whole time we hang around twenty metres and dive towards another buoy where the RIB is going to pick us up. On the way we meet a bit of fan coral, a white moray eel, a couple of perches, snappers and that will be it for now. The bottom also starts to rise a bit and that is necessary, because the air is well consumed, and deco is about 9 minutes at a certain moment. A snake eel swims over the sand, we see a few moray eels and so we reach the reef where indeed the buoy hangs. Luckily this isn't very far away. It's a pity that we had to dive over a lot of sand at a high speed, because our air is almost completely finished, when it gets interesting. A safety stop so we had to start at the buoy line and then go up with over forty minutes on the computer. Hopefully the next dive will be a bit quieter and more relax.
We wait another 15 minutes before the two British guys come out of the water, they can change our tanks already and that's exactly not easy because there are a few that are broken. An interval of forty minutes for us and half an hour for the other two and then we're ten minutes away at the other dive site, also a wreck. A wreck broken in two near a pier and we have to dive in the shaped of the number eight and that is only possible because this wreck is broken in two in the middle. During the short briefing Davi tells us that there are an incredible number of pufferfish, he has never seen as many together as here. Yeah right, we'll see for ourselves. This time it's only about eleven metres and we can see from above that the wreck is broken in two. In one of the first holes of the ship we already see a dark brown moray eel, and two crustaceans and some cleaning shrimps. The red basses with the big black eyes are there again and so are the trumpetfish. We haven't seen a single puffer yet. We dive a bit further, get to the part that is broken and there are already about ten puffers there. Hmm, still not very much actually, but then it comes. Under the sloping hull of the wreck there are dozens of them. You just can't miss it, one next to it, on, among others, really a lot, Davi hasn't exaggerated. Really great.
Maarten and I stay together and each see a scorpion fish, I show him a few times a mini nudibranch. He will also think; how does that fool see it. Schools of yellow snappers are here as well, as always appears. But the most impressive thing about this dive site are the pufferfish, really weird. You have to see it yourself to be able to imagine it. I see a huge lizard fish, but my buddies outperform me, because they have seen a mega stingray under a ledge. A few more moray eels and several species seen here and of course that purple nudibranch with white dots: again, great to see them a few times. We dive a bit further between the puffers. The wreck itself is also beautiful, but the best thing is of course the life we see here. Like I said the puffers, the trumpetfish, the different kinds of moray eels, the red bass with the big black eyes. And all this at a depth of about 11 meters at its deepest. This is also clear looking at the air consumption. After an hour of diving I still have 110 bar. Davi calls us all together and tells us to go to the buoy, because originally it was said that the maximum diving time was 50 minutes. We still have some air and there are still a lot of things to see, so actually it is a pity that we have to stop. The instructor goes looking for the last divers while we are almost starting our safety stop and then we can all go up.
Along the buoy line we enjoy the little white-orange mussels that grow on the buoy and the plastic bottle on the rope and even that's great. A huge group of damsel keeps us company during our ascent and everything goes smoothly. We hang from the rope to the boat, take the ropes from the boat, give camera, lead, jacket and then it's nice and easy to go up along the little ladder without fins. Really a super dive this one, a must for anyone who would ever come here. Only I'm not sure about the dive site anymore, but that's what we sometimes ask. Everybody on board, all ready, putting the equipment back in the nets and then we can start the ride back to the dive centre. We are a bit past Santa Maria, so it will take a little over twenty minutes today to return. The height of the waves will add another five minutes, but in the end we will return to the dive centre around 12:20, just like we said.
Just let Evy know and then rinse all the stuff so they can hang it up later and I can come and pick it up that morning and then suddenly check out of here. The dives are already done. With a bit of melancholy that we have already come so far, but with a bag full of great memories of the dives I return to my loves, great, back together after half a day apart. And those who thought that this would change after a few years - that we would miss each other so much - are really wrong. Just go into the pool and then eat hamburger with fries. Hmm, if that's not the hundredth time, well, it's a holiday of course, then that's possible. After lunch we return to our sun loungers, which Evy had chosen very well this morning and catch up on the swimming pool and the events there as well as the dives. Again ZEN! Yes! We swim a few more times and go off the slides. In this pool alone, there are four small ones, but really nice. Also, a visit to the large pool, so Arne can show how well he can already swim and then just sunbathe and relax.
Around half past five it's time to return to the room, take a shower and get ready for dinner. Evy has reserved in the two small restaurants near our room 1314, but that's for Saturday and Sunday. We walk to the Spices Restaurant and eat something there. Arne has discovered the ice creams and if he eats well, he gets one. Holidays, huh? We walk back to the room, Arne in the neck and there we watch a DVD and we sit on our balcony, enjoy the music of the Lion King they perform here, write some reports, read a book and then at a quarter past nine we also go to sleep. The heat of a whole day, playing at the pool and diving take their toll today. But we had a great day. Tomorrow another one, but only at the pool and no more dives.
Friday October 27th, 2017: Swimming pool
Wake up at six o'clock again, but we're already awake before Arne comes to wake us up. Or we'll just lie down for a while. Yes, just because it is possible. We get ready for breakfast, but first we put everything in order to take it with us to the swimming pool, because it's going to be a day of doing nothing. Hanging in the pool, hanging in the shade, because in the sun it's almost impossible to do: today it's still five degrees warmer than the previous days and there's not a cloud in the sky. So, it's hot. We have breakfast very slowly and enjoy, because we don't have to go anywhere, only make sure we have a pleasant part with some shade. I go for the omelette, because I haven't eaten that much here yet, especially not the days of the dives, because then it's a light breakfast for me. We walk to the room or that is the intention. Near the reception a golf cart stops, and Arne wants to go to the room with it. I film the entire two minutes, almost three from the reception to our room. That's how big it is here. The other side of the reception will take about the same time and beyond our room there are still a few blocks, not a lot, but still. We have heard it said that more than 1000 people can stay here, that's worth it. Not really small scale so. And also recently, because it's only been here for three years.
From the room to the children's pool it's a two minute walk and we'll find plenty of room. Arne goes straight into the water and we go once in a while. Sometimes separately, sometimes together. Once the sun is gone from above our heads and we effectively lie in the shade it's almost noon. But before we have lunch, they put a blue mat in the swimming pool next to us - we had been there before this morning - and the children can walk over it to the end and then jump into the water. They all love to do this, and Arne is queuing up about ten times. Really wonderful to see his face when he walks over the water. Yesterday he could have done this as well, but I hadn't seen it. This time it is less tiring for Evy, because I can bring him back a couple of times, but pictures should definitely be taken and a movie as well. Just put the camera away and just enjoy a super happy son.
Then it's time for lunch and we eat the same thing again, tomorrow it's definitely something else and those days after that we don't eat fries with hamburger every day either. This time Evy takes something à la carte: pasta bolognese. It's pretty spicy, probably a lot of people are going to think it's too spicy. And then back to the pool. For a moment I give Arne a hard time, because he was nagging again about a toe that hurt. Well. We've been saying for four days: put on your water shoes, but no, there's one little kid, who’s too stubborn. In the end he does it anyway, because otherwise he would get a punishment and must go to his room and he is glad that I made that decision. No more pain in the toes and with those water shoes it's even easier to go up the slide's giants. Well, that's what we have to take into account. But we enjoy ourselves. We went into the water with him a couple of times, but for the rest he has a lot of fun on his own or with the friends he makes here, really great.
And then it's about time I went to the dive centre to check out and get my dive gear. So, I leave with an empty sports bag, arrive twenty minutes later, pay 150 Euro of which 8 for the Tip Box, I load my gear and return to the room. It's hot, but less than when I had to put my things there. We have been sunburnt well that day at the swimming pool. We have put on sun cream regularly, but even that didn't help, back and chest are burnt red, so I'll be able to do a good run later on. We stay here for a while and now it is really bearable in the shade and even in the sun. Back to the room at half past five and take a shower, rub in with aftersun and then get something to eat. We eat well and drink water, wine and Sprite. After dinner we go back to the room and there the same routine as before. Watching DVD, getting Arne into bed, we're on the balcony for a while and at about half past nine we're in our bed as well. Tomorrow a day away from the pool and explore the island with a trip from TUI that we had already booked in the beginning of the holiday.
Saturday October 28th, 2017: Postcards of Sal
Today we get up again, because staying in bed in such a hotel on such a paradise-like island is for fools. Plus we booked a trip to see the island for a day. A trip from TUI: Postcards of Sal. The trip costs us 200 Euro for the three of us, so not really cheap, but we'll see if it's worth its money. But first we have to get up quietly, wake up, make our bags and have breakfast. Today Arne only wants a pancake, but that's okay, because he will drink milk and water with it and eventually eat a sandwich. Before that he also had a frangipane. After breakfast we have to wait until 09:15 when the van comes to pick us up and all that waiting takes a bit too long to Arne's opinion. Eventually the van is arriving and we are the last hotel, so our trip starts immediately. At the roundabout in front of the hotel we go straight into the desert and to Kitesurf Beach. Each stop there is a short explanation. This is about the owner who started teaching a few years ago and he himself was a world champion in kitesurfing in 2008. If you look at the stages of recent years there are at least one, sometimes two or three Cabo Verdeans on the podium at championships. A short stop, where really little can be said about except for the beach and the sea and the wind to learn how to kitesurf.
Then on to Murdeira. There is a bay, really nice to look at and in the background, we see the lion mountain. If you've already had some alcohol, not like now, because it's not even ten o'clock, you'd better be able to see the head, manes and body of a lion in the mountain in front of you. I don't see a lion in it, but rather an elephant on the lion's head. Or maybe I drank so early in the day? Here in September the turtles lay their eggs that hatch a little later, just like on Kitesurf Beach. From here the ride continues to Palmeira, where we can get out of the bus a little longer. We do a city walk or rather a walk through the three streets of the village. We also take part in a tourist trap: we can taste the local drinks for free, but we do this near a shop. Well, then tourists buy something. But first we got an explanation about the Fontenario. People can buy potable water there for a few Euros, but that's actually desalinated water. We wouldn't be able to drink it, but neither would the locals and yet they have to pay for it. It is the same water that comes through the taps of the hotels. And these hotels get priority over the local population. Sigrid, our guide, tries to warn us for that specific reason, not to waste too much water, because it can be there’s nothing left for the locals, when the tourists are using too much.
That has an impact on me, because I limit showering in the evening to the bare essentials. Maybe that's how I was able to supply a few people with water. We also stop at one of the painted facades of the houses here and here they painted the archipelago; they had forgotten a couple of islands, so we started on another house. Only Sal and Boa Vista allow large planes to land, because on a few others that is not possible and on one of them it even went wrong. We also take a look at the harbour and then we continue our trip to The Blue Eye. In Buracona there is a hole in the black lava rock and when the sun is right there (around noon) you can see a beautiful eye in it. The water is black on some sides, but where the sun shines in it, it is azure blue. It's a bit of a queue, but it's really beautiful. The surroundings are also beautiful, because the rock is black with lava, the blue sea that splashes open against the rocks in the snow-white waves is really beautiful. We could stay here for hours to watch this spectacle, but we don't have the time. Near the restaurant there is a huge spider, so we also pay some attention to it, which is really great.
Around us there is only desert and a small hill in the distance and after our visit we leave around this mountain to the middle of nowhere and there we see a real mirage. Never seen in this form before, but really great. Even on photo you can see a bit of what it gives. In the distance you can see exactly the water, but we just drove through it, so there is no water at all. When you get down on your knees, the whole horizon looks like water, while you only see something in the distance when you stand up again. And then it's time to move on and get something to eat. We have lunch in Espargos, the capital of the island of Sal. Through the suburbs we drive to the capital and we also pass the prison in the distance. There are 60 people there and not only have they lost their freedom, but all their possessions go to the state. That is a punishment. On the other hand, it drives them into crime again when they are released. Through the slums we enter the more beautiful neighbourhoods and stop somewhere in a small alley. A nice little restaurant where we all sit together and have something to eat. As a starter toast with tomato, then chicken, fish or bean soup, a kind of stew, but for the summer. For dessert an ice cream, caramel cake or papaya jam with goat cheese. We have ice cream and caramel cake and our neighbour had the jam with goat's cheese and is glad that Arne doesn't eat his ice cream completely, so he can still eat it, because his dessert didn't really taste very well. After more than an hour we can leave here again.
From here we drive to the top of a mountain right in the centre where there is also a telecom mast. It takes care of all the connections here on the island, so that is an important place. A short stop, because the view here is beautiful. You can see all over the city and almost half the island, even the airport you can see here. It runs almost half the width of Sal. From here we drive to the salt lakes. Just leave the main road and so you come along a cable car to the top. This cable car used to be used for salt mining but is a bit in decline. A long tunnel through a mountain takes you to the part where you can swim in the salt lakes. Arne and I are going to have adventures, but mommy won't participate. Arne was warned not to drink water and not to let water get into his eyes. Near the water we change clothes and take a dive. Everything goes well until he reaches his lip with his hand. There was a small wound and that started to sting of course. We haven't been in the water for longer than two minutes, but I was able to float for a while. Quickly rinse everything, but first walk up to the showers. There we rinse everything off and everything is immediately forgotten. A lot of time was not foreseen here anyway, because when we took a shower, we should have been on the bus already. Well, a bit of delay.
Our ultimate stop is the botanical garden. There is not much botanical about it, but here it is green and there are almost all the indigenous plants and trees. At a certain time of the year there are also beautiful flowers here. The most striking thing is actually the variety of animals. The owners have decided to catch a lot of animals that have been neglected or that are left behind and so they have already many different species. You can see goats, chickens, ducks, geese, two donkeys, horses and parakeets. Really a very large variety of animal species, but all animals that somehow got from the island of Sal or Boa Vista to here. For some it was also an eye-opener to see how effectively bananas grow. Nothing new really. Many families also use the botanical garden as a location for a family party or BBQ or picnic. It is also effectively a fun place. We now drive back to the hotels, but not to be dropped off already, but for a drink. We get a cocktail on the beach and we enjoy it. Arne gets a bag of chips as a reward, because he has been so good all day. We get compliments from almost everyone on the bus about how a good son we do have.
Now back to the hotel, stop 3, and then to the room and take a shower. No, first we have to swim for half an hour, so the trip is already out of our body and system. This evening we have dinner in The Grill, a restaurant on the hotel grounds near our room. First, we eat calamari, then fish and twice pasta. The fish is really not good: a piece of fish of 2 mm thick and on each side an equally thick layer of breadcrumbs and everything is fried, so not even grilled in The Grill. Not really OK. I'm not hungry, because I eat Arne's pasta. It looked good and the grilled vegetables were OK. Then to the room, Arne directly in his bed, we stay up for a while, but not long either, because like the past few days we are in our bed at half past nine.
Cabo Verde, Sal: Last days
I'm going to take the last few days together in the same report. We have not done many more special things. Enjoying the sun at the pool and a nice meal, let Arne act crazy with the Kids Disco and especially the whole day doing nothing. The swimming pool is used all day long, not only the children's pool, but also the large swimming pool to be able to walk like a big one on the floating mat, really great. The day is just like the previous swimming pool days: same hour of getting up, eating a hamburger or pasta around noon and then the first evening we reserved at the Italian restaurant near our room Terrazzo Ristorante. We eat pizza and drink some wine with it. Afterwards we go with Arne to the disco and then we can go to sleep in time.
Then our last day starts, but tomorrow we can enjoy a whole day of sun, water, cocktails, our son, each other, peace and quiet, relaxing. You read it here hey: we do nothing against our will this holiday and enjoy it to the fullest. Arne is happy that we can go back to the normal restaurant this last evening and in the evening we already prepare a part so that tomorrow we can easily pack everything. The packing is the least fun, but it is necessary. Everything goes smoothly and we can also easily leave for the airport and the flight progresses very well. The landing at Schiphol brings a bit less good news, because it rains, and it is 5 degrees, that's only a 30 degrees difference. That's it. We are dropped off at the parking lot, take the car and then drive home and are home by half past two in a decent hour. We go straight to bed and sleep, because we still have a busy week: we do have a holiday, but we still have a lot of things planned.