Ok, time for a little travelling… Virtual time travel that is, since I’m not up to going anywhere much right now.
I have a Best Friend who is Godmother to Kiwi Daughter and Little Mr.
She’s the kind of person who is always helping out other people, one who happily takes both kids sometimes when Himself and I have business trips to make, a special event to attend or just need a Mama and Papa weekend to ourselves.
We hesitated to do this when our kids were very young, we just couldn’t bring ourselves to leave them, but once Little Mr had started school (and we realised that by doing this as parents we had almost no social lives any more) we decided that make a few changes, and Best Friend always helped out willingly.
We wanted to give something back and so asked her if she wanted to come on holiday with us… and when she said she would love to, we presented her with her air tickets and accommodation as a gift.
As is somewhat our fashion, we didn’t go to anywhere that most people usually trek to, we went to the Cape Verde Islands.
Cape Verde is an ex-portuguese colony, and Himself suggested this destination since he’s learning Portuguese. Good idea so far…
So where is Cape Verde? well if you go to the north-western part of Africa to the country of Senegal, and then go about 570km out into the Atlantic you will find the ten islands that make up the Cape Verde islands.
The word “verde” means “green” in portuguese, but this is a little misleading because some of the islands are green but others are what are called “dry islands” i.e. they are not very green at all, or in the case of a few of them, they are pretty much dessert.
This trip took place four years ago when Little Mr was only two years old and Kiwi Daughter was six, and the flights that come here usually land first on the island of Sal because it has the only airport capable of handling International flights. Transfers are then made from there to the other islands by plane or by boat.
We also choose Sal because on some of the other islands in the group you need to take precautions against malaria, but not on the dry volcanic islands like Sal and we felt the kids were a little too young for a trip that might involve a malaria risk.
This is how we ended up staying in the town of Santa Maria on Sal, in the Cape Verde Islands.
Sal’s airport, Amilcar Cabral International Airport, used to be used as a refuelling base by South African Airways on its Johannesburg to London routes.
This was because during the apartheid era, no other African nations allowed South Africa access to their airports… also, another interesting fact about the airport is that the runway was built by Italy’s Benito Mussolini at the time of the second world war, because he wanted an airstrip big enough for refueling for trips to Brazil…( the airstrip was given back to the Cape Verdians after the Second World War…)
Later, South African flights to and from New York and Atlanta also refueled here, and the island was a crew-change station. SAA established the extra long runways needed by the fully fueled Boeing 707s on their take-offs in the high temperatures. SAA no longer flew to Sal after 2006 due to the cancellation of the Atlanta route.
For a (kind of) map view of Cape Verde I’ll take you to a restaurant in Santa Maria where all the tables are in the shape of the islands of Cape Verde… the tiniest island table seats one person, the bigger ones four to six people etc…
…what an excellent way to combine our love of gastronomy with our love of geography !