18hours later we reached our destination, Villa do Maio. When we got closer to this leeward island, Arthur got visited by a pod of small dolphins.
Villa do Maio is a quaint little town, with colourful houses, a neat church, some bigger government buildings and paved streets. The paving is done with neatly chopped rocks, sometimes with patterns. It must have taken a lot of man hours and determination to get this done in this climate. Unlike any other African country there is no trash lying around. It seems like each member of the community assists in keeping the place clean. For instance, we saw a lady picking up a piece of loose rock and putting it aside to fix. As on the other islands, people are helpful and directing us to where we can buy bread, find the fish market, and veg market, …
The town overlooks the bay, with its white sand beach, that even has some palm trees on it. Not only the exotic appearance but rather the attitude of the critical mass earns Cabo Verde the equation to the Caribbean.
Whereas Santo Antoa had a distinct French influence, on Maio we overheard quite a bit of Italian discussions. Locals address each other in Kriolu, a rather incomprehensible Portuguese based dialect.
Apart from the local boats moored on the beach, there are three local beach bars. We settled in the Tortuga beach restaurant, a family owned business, where Gitane found 3 playmates. All well behaved happy kids keen on playing hide and seek, building sand castles, and so on. The eldest girl gave her a toy on the first day. The second day, Gitane came prepared. She made a drawing for each of them and had chosen a trinket. Guess us Westerners haven’t evolved that much, still exchanging trinkets for local treasure. She played flat out the whole afternoon and was invited to eat with them.
At night Exodus was visited by a group of needle fish. The stern light attracted these slick glittering blue figures. This made a beautiful contrast with the dark water. They seemed very innocent and gay until Arthur informed us they are pelagic and quite aggressive hunters!
We had two days of Hamatan conditions, where the sky turns desert brown, and the air is full of dust. Exodus got powdered all over, sailbag, bimini, and so on looked like they were made of desert coloured cloth, the stays and ropes and radio antenna appeared to be made of wood. Checking the morning news, we heard about the Coup in Zimbabwe, and life just got better.
Our last day, we had a snorkel on the reefs close to the beach. The depth was only 6m, and there was great visibility. Ideal for a comfortable swim on the surface, holding hands with Gitane. She is no longer a noisy buoy Winnie has to drag along, but now an active swimmer who dares to put her face in the water, holding her breath and pointing at the various fish.
Even though the reef was quite shallow, all the groups in the food chain were present. There were schools of small fish taking on fish figures, or twirling down like leaves falling from a tree, rock cods, coral groupers, white beaked wrasses, giant parrot fish and trumpet fish. Like looking at a tropical fish aquarium, but so much better. The turquoise water had just the right temperature, giving you the feeling you could swim there forever, highlighting the quality of the snorkeling on most of these islands…