PEOPLE FROM BOAVISTA

I promised myself to speak about the people we met in Boavista, because we found really valuable persons during our stay.I have beautiful memories of the people we met, which are always a fundamental part of a travel. I always thought that the others could enrich us, our point of view, our values. People from Boavista nowadays are about 14.000: so, you can see that is not really much populated. They have a motto: “No stress”: this is the answer of the locals when you may have any kind of problem: in Caboverde life flow smoothly, peacefully, without laborious rhythm. They’re used to many hitches, for example regarding transports, impassable streets, shops provisionally closed. I must say that in Boavista there’s no hospital, only a doctor on call and an only pharmacy in Sal Rei.

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In Boavista everyone knows everybody else well, and often they help each other in the small things of everyday; they share happily food, music, car lifts, and so on. On Sunday there are small groups along the harbour in Sal Rei playing ouril, their typical game: the name cames probably from the tree whose seeds are used to play. Basically it consists in moving continuosly the seeds anticlockwise in the bowls curved in the wooden panel, until one player wins the seeds of the other. (when there is a certain number of seeds in the same bowl)

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Life, even with some deprivation on all that daily sort of things, seems a matter of simplicity: they always smile, and children are always playing around in the streets. Children are just beautiful: the little girls, especially, have always the hair gathered in coloured tiny braids, and they  wear gaudy clothes – like the colours of some home facades. They were curious about us, and our belongings. It’s difficult not to try to keep contact with them, and also to help them, in someway.

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And the elders, with their skin consumed by the sun, the deep wrinkles on their face, and so expressive gazes. These wise old men which went out from their home after lunch, to see us passing by, taking photos, speaking a strange language. They are grateful for what they have, and they share it with dignity: they don’t need all the useless things that continuously surround us. Aware or not about their belongings, they miss nothing because “they do with what they’ve got”.

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Right now i’m thinking at one of our guides, Eliseo, which is born and grew up in Boavista, and have a numerous family: one day, returning together by car at our hotel, we asked him if he had never thought of going anywhere else, to see other places in the world. He answered to us: ” Yeah, i thought about it, and some years ago I met a girl who proposed to me to go with her in Italy. But, afterall, I love my country and the people who live here. I know everyone here, and I think that Boavista is a beautiful place to stay, we have the duty to preserve our island. I never had any doubts about wanting to stay: it’s the rest of the world that comes to visit us.”

And Eliseo is right: many people who visit Boavista once, go back in the years, or they end up settling. We met also some italians, which opened commercial activities – restaurants, excursions, ecc…- and a couple of them will get citizenship soon, because they’re in Boavista from more than 10-15 years, working for the community and to safeguard turtles and rare animals. They’re just integrated in society.

“People who travel without meeting the others, are not traveling, they’re just moving.” (Alexandra David-Néel)

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BOAVISTA: THE SOUTH TOUR

From time to time, I often look at my photos of Cabo Verde: they just make me dream. Today I’ll show you some rare seascape of the south-west coast of Boavista, which presents the most beautiful and neverending beaches.

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We made this adventurous excursion on a quad, which is quite the only way, together with an off-road vehicle, to visit this part of the island.The most famous beach in the south is Praia Santa Monica, about 18 km lenght, at 6 km from a small village named Provoacao Velha. We arrived here from a dirt patch of red sand, crossing the montainous up-country, which reminds me the limitless spaces of California.The panorama deserved all the long curvy way done to reach it.

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Driving again on the uneven road, we stopped close to the ruins of Curral Velho, an ancient fishermen village, where you can visit the old salinas: if you have the chance to be alone in this place, you could really hear the “sound of silence”, interrupted only by the wind and the breaking waves.

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The south of this island offers really some suggestive glimpses: don’t miss the opportunity to observing wild birds living in the marshlands near the ocean; and last but not least, to drive on a pick-up throughout the ancient volcano craters (today extinguished): quite a lunar landscape.

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On the way back, we often stopped to take some shots of the beaches in the nearby, like Curral Velho and Ervatao, with a declining ocean bottom: places like these are ideal habitat for sea turtles (Caretta Caretta), which punctually every summer return here to lay the eggs under the careful look of the volunteers of the environmental associations.

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Another great beach where you could stopping by, returning toward Sal Rei, is Varadihna: its peculiarity are high rocks on the oceanfront, that the water has eroded, shaping many caves. In this area of the island, in the late afternoon, is possible to sight some sharks swimming next to the seaside.

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Next time I’ll tell you more about a night excursion to see turtles laying eggs on the beach, and about the people we met in Boavista.

DISCOVERING CABOVERDE

In August we planned a trip to Boavista Island, located in Cabo Verde archipelago. The island is in the middle of Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Western Africa. Capo Verde, (in Portuguese Cabo Verde, in Creole Cabu Verde, Cábu Vêrdi o Kabu Verde) is composed by ten volcanic islands, and it’s located at 500 km from Senegalese oceanfront.

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The archipelago has a great environmental heritage , only recently discovered by tourism operators.”Capo Verde” is so called because of the place of Cap-Vert, Senegal, which is the westernmost point of continental Africa. These islands, previously uninhabited, were discovered by Portugal during 15th century. After the discovery, they became center of the commerce of human slaves and later, the place where cargos and whaling ships stopped to supply with coal.
In 1975, Capo Verde gain finally indipendence from Portugal. In this period, Guinea-Bissau and Capo Verde was together under a common government. Both of the countries considered the opportunity of unify theirselves till the 1980, when in Guinea- Bissau took place a coup d’état, after which the inhabitants of Capoverde founded their own faction, called PAICV, (Partido Africano da Independência de Cabo Verde).

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Before visiting Boa Vista, I occasionally watched documentary about this place, and i always thought that it was just a heavenly place. Boa Vista is the nearest island to the African coast, and it’s called the sand island, because of the Viana Desert, created from the Sahara sands brought here from the winds. It is located in the northwestern part of the island, east of the towns Rabil and Sal Rei. Boa Vista is a wild island, with few but welcoming inhabitants, neverending beaches, and dirt patches to explore.

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These are some shots taken at our arrive: we were in a tiny bungalow just in front of the ocean, on Praia de Chavez, a beautiful white sand neverending beach: early in the morning we took promenades on the beach, seing the fishermen coming back from work with their boats, and founding some locals (also senegalese) who sell souvenirs (not too much typical, however). They often stopped us ’cause they were curious about where we came from. I heard too some impressive stories about people who came from abroad and now living and working in Capo Verde.

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Another thing you could notice right away is that the people has music into thier veins: music is all ever, every time of the day: the music of Capo Verde is suggestive, it absorbs african influences, portoguese, caribbean and brasilian ones. The musical genre par excellence is the “morna”, a sort of lyrical and melancholic song, singed in creole. Other popular musics spreaded in the islands are  coladeira, la kizomba, la funaná e il batuque. Among the artists most appreciated abroad there is Cesária Évora, traditional singer of morna e Ildo Lobo.

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Cabo Verde is just fascinating. Most of the people has both portoguese and africain progeny; they speak Portoguese as official language, but everybody uses Creole ( a strange mix of Portuguese and Africain). Sal and Boavista are the most touristic island: here we always found people who spoke currently Italian: my first suggestion is to put yourselves completely in the hands of the locals, they will help you find everything you need and it’s the fastest way to know more about the place you’re visiting. For us this has been a beautiful experience. In the next travel post we’ll explore better the island!Cris