On our third day in Cape Verde, we decided to go on an adventure. Through the Forum du Routard (Backpacker forum), we contacted Marie and had agreed to spend two days with her companion, Arlindo as a guide to Santo Antão. During the preparation of our trip, this island often returned as a must-see and we really wanted to discover this green flora far from the volcanic soil of São Vicente. So we went to the port of Mindelo and took the Mar d’Canal ferry , which is the cheapest in the direction of the neighboring island. Having often been warned about safety and thievery in Cape Verde, we took the initiative to put our money in our socks for the time of the crossing. We soon felt like idiots because the users of the ferry were quite respectable even a bit gentrified people!
The arrival in Porto Novo was pretty hectic with all the touts desperately trying to lure us to their car. Nevertheless, Arlindo managed to find us in this crowd and after mistakenly taking for one of them (so embarassing!), he took us to the aluguer waiting for us to join his village on the other side of the island: Ponta do Sol. It was the opportunity of a first drive in the car for about 3 hours through Corda through the mountains, clouds and a few villages scattered here and there. We stopped several times to listen to Arlindo speaking with passion of his land, read some explanatory tourist signs, talk to locals or just admire this magical landscape. Volcanic rock, very present in Cape Verde, being particularly fertile, it is quite impressive to see the extent of crop fields nestled in the extinct volcanoes.
Once in Ponta do Sol, we had the pleasure of meeting Marie with whom we exchanged on the Internet. She is a laboratory technician who fell in love with the country and Arlindo, her guide, a few years ago. Since then, she has made countless trips between Switzerland and Cape Verde in order to discover a little more each time the wonders of this country, a beautiful story! This adorable couple recommended us La Caleta, a small restaurant overlooking the harbor a little lower, and indeed it was worth it! We were able to taste the muraine a fish full of bones, hard enough to eat but with an incredibly creamy white flesh, a pure delight! Then came the time to taste the cachupa, the national dish. Consisting of eggs, chicken, sausages and white beans, this very consistent dish fulfills perfectly its primary function, filling the stomach! Marie explained that often people were not sure to have a second meal during the day and therefore had the main goal with this dish to be able to go through the day in case of shortage. It is true as stated, the mixture may seem surprising but I assure you it is a delicious dish to test absolutely! A very nice restaurant on the whole despite the simplicity of its premises. Good tip: do not try to make conversation with the owner of Corsican origin, she is rather special!
After having thoroughly digested, Arlindo escorted us to Boca de Pistola, a lovely little bar with a small cozy room that would be ours for the night. Afther taking a few minutes to cool we left with Arlindo for a walk in the hills of the village. The opportunity to test our stamina for the first time. It was not easy and especially frustrating to be blithely passed by a 10 year-old boy years in flip flops while we were having a really hard time with our windbreakers and walking sticks. There is no denying the Cape Verdean really are great walkers! We even met a man in a suit who was coming home from work with his beautiful spotless shoes. Respect! The reward absolutely lived up to our expectations with a magnificent view of a small village close to Ponta do Sol, Fontainhas, and the ocean out of sight. A feast for the eyes!
And to finish the grueling march, nothing like a dip in the ocean at sunset followed by a walk on the port. Old men playing at the water’s edge, teenagers diving endlessly and fishermen returning from a more than successful fishing: life in Ponta do Sol exudes serenity and it feels good.
After returning home to take a shower and getting ready for the evening, Arlindo came to pick us up by whistling under our window. A very special type of whistling. Each family has its own in the village. Thus, it is easy to find out if any of your relatives is trying to get in touch with you, a nice little tradition. Accompanied by Marie, we went to a small restaurant near the port, Chez Vony where Arlindo used his connections to allow us to taste a fresh lobster of the day for only $20/ person! We were joined at the table by Vera and Gordon, a German couple working as makeup artists at the opera who had decided to spend their annual vacation months by discovering Santo Antão with a leased car. A delicious meal and very lively and friendly exchanges which blithely mixed Creole, English, French, German and even some Spanish! We then had a drink in a small makeshift bar by the beach. The opportunity to taste a Ponche with peanut (pontch de macara) which was absolutely delicious. This was undoubtedly the best night of our stay!
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