Sand in the water – Cape Verde

Unlike the passage to the Canaries, the one to Cape Verde was the least pleasant I ever had. No wind for 3 days we hardly made any distance, than a smaller storm lasted for a day, swell from any and all direction all the time, heat, rain… anyway… one can not influence the weather.
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Our fishing where still quite strong, at least one fish a day, but no more big ones, mostly smaller tunas, brama-bramas, a barracuda… basically we where happy with the size, as was quite enough for the two of us, but we did not had to throw away anything.ย 
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Our destination was the north of Sal island, the village of Palmaeira, where most of the sailors stop, as this is the closest point to the Canaries and one of the three entry point to the country. After spending nine difficult days at sea, we where more than happy to stepp on land and have a proper warm dinner.
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We really wanted to spend new-years eve on land, especially spending Christmas at the middle of the Atlantic, which we just did, as arrived just a day before the party begins.
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Christmas at sea was funny… a massive container-ship arrived on the horizon heading towards us.. after watching her coming closer and closer we decided to turn away, a minute later they turned as well again, heading straight to us, seeing that we turned again, and they turned again too, after a certain point I tought it is a god idea to switch on the radio in cease we have to call them last minute. For a good half an hour, we did the truning game, they came more and more close, and when we almost collided they shauted “mery christmas” to the radio. ๐Ÿ™‚ they where nice, but we could have done that from a greater distance, and at least my nerve system would have stayed calm.
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Anyway, that day that was the biggest happening altogother… very typical for sailing… basically nothing happens for days… I start to dislike this feeling. At the beginig it was fun, relaxing, but by now, I started to feel that by plane I would have been there in no time, and seeing the blue sea and the blue sky did not added too much to my experience anyway after seweral month at sea. Blue below and blue abowe… for most of the sailors this represents calmness and beauty, but for me, it is just a color, and not much fun in it.ย 
Sal seemed like an ugly touristy destination according to the guidbooks, so I was not ultimately excited about it, but at least I was out of europe!!! Woohoo!!!
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We where greatly surprised that Palmaeire is a lovely picturesque village, with sparkling clean streets, not something one would expect from afrika. People where really lovely and friendly, no real sign of the destruction by the tourism industry. Basicaly westerners visiting Sal usually stay in the southern part at Santa Marta, in one of the big resorts, taking organized bus-rides across the island visiting Palmeira for half an hour around midday when fishermans coming back with their catch. Other than that, all you see is relaxed locals and some sailors, but they generally never leave the harbour.ย 
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On our first day we went to the capital city of the island, Espargos, to sort out some basic things, like a local phone number, and some internet access.ย 
At night, we where already very excited about the party, especially our local friend, Jaire, the dinghy-boy invited us to join his family for the night.
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The party was great, we managed to get in to some local association’s “mega” party which was fun, although the music was rather bad. Ppl where generally nice and seriously drunk. Here the event goes until 11 in the morning, and a new one starts 6 in the afternoon, again till the morning. Locals do like to party here, I guess it was inherited from the Portuges.ย 
Us, too white and “old” for this endless parties went back to the boat round 6 in the morning.ย 
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The next few days we we spent by recovering and wandering around the island. It is quite nice although nothing special.
After around a week, we lifted our anchor and headed towards Maio, a tiny little dot at the middle of the sea. I had high hopes as it is really off from any tourist trails: no resorts, no guided tours, it is off the sailing trail as well, the passage there is rather unplesant and if you try to leave the islands basically you have to beat into the winds for days. Thanks to this the island is really a nice place. Locals are extremely friendly, it is very safe allover not just compared to Cape Verdian standards. Nobody tries to ripp you off, the bus sometimes takes you for free, if you hitchike everybody stops and takes you wherever you wish. The food is great, the sea is bountiful around the islands, this is the last not over-exploited patch of water in the whole atlantic. Beaches are beautiful, clear turquoise water and clean white sand. I have to admit I have never seen anything like this before. You can go to different deserted beaches for weeks without seeing anyone around. If you are looking for a holiday with christal clear water and constant sun with a pleasent breeze look no further. But if you are like me, who cares less about the waterside experience and looking for some local taditional values unfortunately you will be bored in a few days. Next to going to the beaches there is very little to do. We went araund the tiny island, visited all the villages… went fishing with Pedro, the friendly and happy local fisherman and watched the wanderful sunsets above the neighbouring island of Santiago.
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On one occasion, at one of the villages ย while walking around we saw several ppl gathering, ladies grinding corn, others standing by and chatting. We went close, started chatting with the ones working the corn, they where nice and invited us in for a lunch. Only after some time we realized we where actually invited to a double funneral. Very sad, father and doughter within a week. While we where talking with the crowd inside a gentleman came out from the inner room, started to talk with Susana, asked where is she from… after a few minutes he asked me as well, I told I’m from hungary, and he started to smile and replied that we can talk hungarian than as I’m hungarian as well. Quite a surprise! We are everywhere… but this one was still a shock… a tiny island, an even tinier village and apperently there is 2 hungarians living there. ๐Ÿ™‚
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The bay in front of Port the Maio, the capital is really wanderfull and nice anchorage, a lovely bar on the seafront managed by a french lady and her partner. They where sailing around the word or basically sailing to somewhere unknown with the family, arrived to Maio to visit some friends for two days and they never left, it was a good 5 years ago. Their story is not unique, we met a good amount of expats with the same story, they arrive here for a week holiday, and stay here forever. Well, I understand them, here it is calm and quiet, peaceful and friendly. The guidbook says it is the island where nothing happens. I can totally agree with it. We met a really lovely german lady, Elisabeth, she arrived here for a week 15 years ago… same happened with Hans-Peter, he is here for 8. Everybody is nice here not just the locals but the expats as well, seems like the island nicely selects its inhabitants. Elisabeth invited us for a dinner and organized us a lovely goodbye party when our time arrived to leave, Hans-Peter, filled up our water-tank with his small motorboat. Everyone helps each other, everyone knows each other. I really like a particular story about Maio and sort of it describes the hospitality of the place. An italian gentleman moved to the island several years ago… a few years later turned out that he is a well known criminal, sort of a godfather-maffia like guy, who has a warant against him. So, the police came, to arrest him, and to prepare the papers and his return to italy… while the locals collectively signed a paper saying that he is maybe a looked for criminal in europe, but here, in Maio, he is really nice and a well accepted helpful citizen, so they asked the govermant not to proceed with the extradition. And they managed. He is still on the island, altough can not leave it by any means. Best prison on the word I would say ๐Ÿ™‚
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Going to land from the boat was rather problematic, although Psyrema was anchoring close to the beach but there was a constant rather tricky shore-break allover the place. After capsizing with our canoe several times, we wandered if it is a better idea to swim ashore, we booth did it several times during the day but was worried a bit about doing it after dinner when it is already dark. So, we asked the most knowledgable ppls around, the fishermans, if it is safe to swim back at dark, if there are sharks around or not… all of them insisted that it is entirely safe so we decided, next day, we will leave the canoe at the boat, and snorkle to the shore. The same night, I was fishing from the boat, you can guess what was the very first catch, a shark ๐Ÿ™‚ plan cancelled. ๐Ÿ™‚ making the local kids rather happy as every day they where already waiting for us to wake up and paddle out, so they can take the canoe and play with it around. They where very lovely, every evening when we came to go back, they inflated it and removed all the sand with a sponge from it… wow… it is really hard to understand why Cape Verdian ppl has such a bad reputation. But as we learned later Maio is a different place, as it would be a different country.
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A few days before we left we met a really nice and friendly couple, Victor and Amanda, they live in Cape Verde for quite a few years already, booth of them are marine researchers… full with interesting stories and informations about the marine life around the islands. As Victor was really keen to learn a bit of sailing, we decided to wait and postpone our departure a few more days, until he will be free for the trip. I did not mind it, and Susana was more than happy to stay for a little longer as she is a really beach-goer, so she felt she is in paradise ๐Ÿ™‚ back than I did not even know how important this event will be regarding my future travel plans.
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