This is post in my photo journalistic tour of the island of Sal in the Cape Verde group that Family Kiwidutch and Kiwi Best Friend made in 2007.
One day we talk about going to Espargos, the main town, so walk to our hotel reception area, to find a local taxi conveniently parked outside.
Himself does some token price negotiations in broken Portuguese (Espargos from Santa Maria costs us Euro 6,–) and the driver was very pleased even with the “knocked down” price that was agreed so probably we were still charged “tourist price”.
Ah heck we are not being miserly about supporting the local economy… We hop in and head north to Sal’s bigger and only other large population centre.
Espargos is the biggest town on Sal and is situated not too far from the airport, pretty much in the centre of the island. We learn that the name Espargos means “asparagus” and the town got it’s name from the wild asparagus that apparently grew around here.
Since we don’t see asparagus of any sort on any of the menu’s, in any of the shops or at any of the roadside stalls, we ask if there is still asparagus to be found here. The people we talked to said that they didn’t know of any, but there used to be in the past because rainfall was higher then than is it now.
We walk though the town, and I photograph the town square and a colourful church…
There were market stalls on the side of the road. lots of fruit being sold, we watched as an elderly man haggled for a single fish and then saw him buy the smallest bottle of olive oil I have ever seen (about the size of a mini alcohol bottle) … we later passed him walking on the outskirts of town, taking home his evening dinner.
You can’t have an idea of the soul of a country unless you try some less touristic things and do a few things as local people do: for the return journey we decide to travel local style to Santa Maria, so we board an argulia local minibus for public transport (Euro 1,– per person) and make ourselves comfortable. The mini bus already looks full, but no, another half dozen people turn up with a heap of stuff and it appears that they are joining us.
That’s how we come to share cramped conditions with at least five more passengers than this minibus was ever intended for, plus a strange and “fragrant” assortment of food and luggage that got piled into every available space around us.
Every window that still opens is rolled down, and heavily laden to epic proportions, the driver then proceeds to pull out of Espargos with the car radio turned up to a deafening volume.
Little Mr, hater of loud noises at any time, spent the journey back folded into a defensive little ball on my knee with his (and my) hands over his ears. It was stifling hot inside the minibus and very windy as the wind buffeted our faces in the rear of the vehicle, and I was more than a little nervous at times because our driver was exactly like the other drivers we’ve seen here: speed lunatics who apparently fancy themselves as grand prix racers.
This attitude to driving appears to be fueled in part by the existance of a brand spanking new dual carriageway highway that runs for most of the distance between Espargos and Santa Maria. It’s rather errie considering that this mega wide and pristine piece of road runs though a dessert wilderness and seems to be designed to transport thousands of cars rather than the maybe 40 cars we saw whilst we were on it.
Planning for a future population boom? Ok, planning ahead is always good, but with a population of only 8.000 I think it will be decades if not centuries before you see a traffic jam on this highway.
Between the noise of the wind rushing by and eardrum assult of the radio Kiwi Best Friend and I both exit the minivan in Santa Maria with thumping headaches…
Still, we survived, they were friendly and we had asprin. As the old adage goes.. “third class riding is better than first class walking…”