Vila dos Espargos is the most important town on the island of Sal (not that that’s any great claim to fame because Santa Maria is the other and only larger town on the island, the rest of the settlements being village sized and few and far between.)
Santa Maria however is bigger than Espargos because it’s where the tourist generally head for,
The reason for this?… it’s on the southern tip of the island, where ideal waves and wind are a drawcard for windsurfers the world over, there are also boating facilities, diving possibilities and well, the beach…
…something that Vila dos Espargos can’t compete with since it’s situated in the heart of the dry interior of Sal.
Santa Mariameans “Saint Mary” in Portuguese and the Portuguese influence is left behind in the style of the buildings… with an average of 350 days of sunshine per year and very low rainfall on the few days it does rain, it’s hardly surprising to find that grass is a little hard to find here.
There are though, some welcome shade trees on some of the streets and effort has been made to green up a few pockets like the little square by the restaurant with the “island” tables, which if you compare to the dry arid landscape of the rest of the island, clearly has not been an easy undertaking.
There’s a desalination plant outside town but we saw no rivers or springs anywhere, so where people got fresh water from here in centuries past is a bit of a mystery to me. It does appear upon further investigation though that there used to be more water here in the past… but times, like the climate changed and it’s far drier here now.
The few trees provide welcome respite from the sun, we are wearily of the dangers of exposing our lily white flesh to large doses of UV radiation and already starting to wonder if the one large bottle of Factor 60 sunscreen will be enough for our stay.
We want to find a supermarket so that we can get some water, fruit and breakfast supplies so we go on a little exploratory tour of Santa Maria…