9. DECEMBER 2014 – SANTIAGO ISLAND, CAPE VERDE

Yay, my first day on a real trip off the ship! We arrived at the port in Praia on the Santiago island in the morning. I accompanied the group that went on a discovery tour around the Santiago island. There were more mini buses and I was on one of them with a smaller group of people. As soon as we left the port we passed some stands that immediately let us know that we were in Africa. Cape Verde were actually part of Portugal, because they were colonized, but they are really close to Africa, so they still have a lot of original culture. Well we passed these stands that were more or less just few sticks and plastic roof or something like that and they sold different goods. And another thing I didn’t expect – women carrying the buckets on their heads. I had no idea that is typical on these islands as well.
Our first stop was at some distillery in the middle of some valley. Then we drove up and down the hills and mountains and you could see that we were in or on the crater of an old volcano. It is not active anymore, but you can see the shape. And the vistas, the scenery, the views – oh, simply amazing! I fell in love with it right away! And the palm trees everywhere! Oh, I love palm trees. When we drove along these mountains and greenery I couldn’t believe how blessed I am to experience something like this. All these beautiful sights made me even forget there is a lot of litter everywhere. Yes, it is quite dirty, but mostly because people are not yet educated very well about this problem. Our guide said things are better now, but they still need some more time and better education.
Well the problem with this island is that it didn’t get much rain, especially this year, so the grounds are quite dry. There is still a lot of poverty, so the houses are very simple and most of them unfinished. But it is amazing how all the people we saw looked so happy. Everybody was smiling, waving at us, talking or laughing. Our guide, a local, told us that they are peaceful nation and even though they don’t have much, they appreciate what they have. Even when life is hard they don’t just sit and wait for better times, like many people in more civilized world do. He said they know you must do something and changes will come sooner or later. I love their way of thinking and it seems it is working very well for them.
We visited some botanical gardens that didn’t really impress me. They looked more like just bunch of paths through some forest or something like that. Nothing special to be honest. What shocked me there, was a photo one of the tourists showed me after he went on a toilet. There was a huge black spider, so I was really happy I didn’t go to the toilet at that location.
And right after I just realized that there are obviously large spiders on the island, we drove in our minibus and we passed some spider web with large spiders. At first I thought that must be some decoration or something, because it was right in front of some house and it almost looked like a fence made of net. Well I wasn’t so lucky, those were real spiders and they were everywhere! They were really large, probably about 7 or 8cm (with their legs of course), but luckily we didn’t see any of them moving. They were just sitting there on their nets. I still didn’t wanted to approach them, but I was brave enough to take a photo.
Our last stop was on the other side of the island, at the most beautiful beach they have. It is beautiful, it is sandy and it has palm trees… Exotic, as you would expect. It is just sad that all the unfinished, ruined and poor buildings kind of destroy the whole image. But it is very nice that is right next to town, so you can see the local fishing boats and people working at the beach. Really great experience to see the locals, not just tourists. We had lunch there and I usually have some problems with food, because I am vegan (if there is no other choice I eat something vegetarian as well, these days I ate few pieces of meat after about three or four years, but it just didn’t feel right and my stomach didn’t like it, so I guess that proves I really should stay vegan). Well this time there were a lot of local vegetables and fruits available, so I had no problem finding something for my taste. And I ate one of those cute little local bananas and they are really so much better than the ones we buy in supermarkets in Europe. Much sweeter and full of taste! I wanted to try one of these for such a long time…
We were returning along the coast, so this time we could only see the mountains more in the distance. But it was amazing and we passed some interesting bays and valleys. What made it so much funnier were the cows, donkeys, goats and chicken that crossed the road more or less on every corner. We almost hit few of them, but luckily we didn’t (though I heard one of the bussed did ran over the chicken). I mean, you don’t get to see this kind of a simple life everywhere and all that made the whole experience even more unique.
Well to put it together, I loved the day and I am starting to love this job more and more. It can be quite tough and busy, but in the end all the travelling, seeing new places and meeting new interesting people really make it all worth it. I think I still don’t really get that all this is actually real and I am the one that is able to experience it. That’s probably what happens when your dreams come true. Dare to dream big no matter what others say!

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