A Tiny Atlantic Island

We are escaping winter cold and a building project in our house as we wheel our suitcases around to the station to get a train, to catch a bus, to go to airport, to check into a hotel, to check out and into airport, to get a flight, to transit, to get another flight, to clamber into a taxi and to arrive, at last, to our hotel at Santa Maria, Cape Verde, at about 1.00am. It’s a caper, travelling this way and involves much planning and a great deal of waiting around. The bus to airport, alone takes three hours.

Far and away the fastest part of the travel is immigration at our tiny, destination airport on Sal Island, Cape Verde, where we walk into the arrivals building, place our passports on to a screen, collect our cases and walk out to our waiting cab. Astonishing! We are not expecting such a smooth arrival on our return to Gatwick, London [where in the past, I’ve waited more than an hour for luggage and expect a long, long queue to breach immigration on our return].

Sal is a tiny island, about 18 miles long and 7 miles wide. At the late arrival hour we can’t see much but it’s coolish and very windy. The hotel receptionist checks us in and takes us up some steps to a vast room with a huge balcony overlooking the ocean and leaves us to it. Neither of us sleeps well, having travelled into the night and being out of routine. But we know we can catch up, hopefully in some sunshine.

We’ve opted for breakfasts in this small, beachside hotel, not being fond of all-inclusive schemes. We prefer to get out and about, finding our own places to eat and get a drink. The hotel is well placed, a ten minute walk from Sal’s main community of Santa Maria.

We surface from fitful sleep to a magnificent view, though the palm trees are bending in a strong breeze which, we are to learn, is constant. We’re blessed with a coffee maker, which we just about manage to boil water in for tea, having brought tea bags with us. Then we go down, out and around to a sunlit dining room, where we’re offered fruit and a menu with a variety of ways to cook eggs plus a few accompaniments. It’s an ok breakfast, although at home we don’t do breakfast and would prefer to eat later.

We loll around on our balcony, recovering from the rigours of travel, the sun becoming stronger as it rises, then decide to strike out along the unmade road outside and towards town, We’re looking for a supermarket to stock up on a few things and perhaps to look at the metropolis. The sandy road runs parallel to the beach, which offers an alternate route back.

Our hotel is placed in a residential area of pastel coloured homes with riotous, tropical gardens, although as we approach the first corner there’s a huge, litter strewn square where feral dogs roam, barking and chasing an occasional motor scooter for a lark. When we get to the town centre there’s a main street lined with bars, restaurants and shops, mainly selling gifts and T-shirts.

We’ve got the lie of the land so we stroll back, stopping at a small, local mini market for a few snacks and beers, then there’s time for a read in the sun before dinner- which is to be in the hotel dining room on this, our first night…

Grace is the alter ego of novelist and short story writer, Jane Deans. To date I have two published novels to my name: The Conways at Earthsend [https://www.amazon.co.uk/Conways-at-Earthsend-Jane-Deans-ebook/dp/B08VNQT5YC/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2ZHXO7687MYXE&keywords=the+conways+at+earthsend&qid=1673350649&sprefix=the+conways+at+earthsend%2Caps%2C79&sr=8-1 and The Year of Familiar Strangers [https://www.amazon.co.uk/Year-Familiar-Strangers-Jane-Deans-ebook/dp/B00EWNXIFA/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2EQHJGCF8DSSL&keywords=The+year+of+familiar+strangers&qid=1673350789&sprefix=the+year+of+familiar+strangers%2Caps%2C82&sr=8-1 Visit my writer Facebook page [https://www.facebook.com/search/top?q=jane%20deans%2C%20novellist%2C%20short%20fiction%20and%20blog or my website: https://www.janedeans.com/

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