Ups and Downs and Endings

This post is a continuation of a travelogue thread on the subject of Cape Verde. Track back to previous posts for the full account…

Our trip to Sal Island, Cape Verde is almost done and we’re undertaking an island tour, driven by our tour guide and driver, Elton. His guiding style consists of driving us somewhere, telling us where we are and opening the doors to let us out. En route, he is engaged with his phone or largely silent. We’ve no clue at all as to where we’ll go or what we’ll view.

Nevertheless we’re seeing places and having experiences, the last [detailed in last week’s post] somewhat unnerving and decidedly soggy.

I survive the incident in the shark-ridden waves, principally by being grabbed at the eleventh hour by the shark watch guide, Girondelo. I’ve been teetering as a large wave approached then he snatches my hand and holds me upright. My camera also survives, which is a stroke of luck; not so my shorts, which are sodden.

When Girondelo signals that we must return to the shore, I realise with dread that there’s another trek over the spiky coral in the thin, rubber shoes I’m wearing, a slog like stepping barefoot over a field of Lego bricks. He repeats his haul of me and my screeching self until we reach the sand- a relief! Husband, in sturdy crocs, has fared better and is only a little damp. Giro wants us to peruse his ‘shop’, to which we acquiesce, On viewing the assorted items on his tiny, wooden stall we select something to grace our naff shelves at home…[ ], paying an inflated price, of course, but then I’m still not sure whether he almost drowned me or saved my life…

Elton is, as usual ensconced with his phone in the car, stirring only to open the doors to us and shrugging when I point out my wet shorts will be on his upholstery. We bump along the unmade road once more and off up into some hills where the dusty track is worse still, throwing us all over the place and winding up and up. At the top we draw up, get out and can peer down into a huge basin where there are salt flats. We’ve seen a lot of salt flats but this is quite a spectacle as it’s perfectly framed by the surrounding hills. Above us there is an ancient and decaying structure of wooden planks and beams with wheels and pulleys, presumably for processing and transporting the salt down the hill to the nearby bay. It’s bleak and more windy than ever up here but it’s atmospheric.

There’s not much more to the tour, except for a brief stop at an attractive bay where there’s a pirate-themed bar and restaurant based in an old shipwreck.

Then we’re off back to Santa Maria and our hotel.

With only a day or two left we decide we should find a restaurant in the town for our evening meal, rather than the more local ones we’ve come to know. After looking at Tripadvisor we choose ‘Ocean’, a large, busy place on the main square which gets rave reviews. One side of the establishment is given over to bar, the other to meals. We arrive about 7pm and are led to a table in a corner by the lavatories…hmm…

We order a starter and a main meal from a menu that’s burger and pizza heavy but offers enough choice, at least to cater for my dietary difficulties. After a time the starters come and they’re fine- even too much when we’ve a main meal to follow, so I wrap up my dim sum and stow them in my bag for next day’s lunch. Then we wait…and wait. A glance around at other tables shows that those who’ve come in after us are already on their next courses, also our waiter is entranced by the two diners who’ve just sat down at the table next to us, fist-bumping with them and asking where they’re from [they are French].

During our wait there’s a hiatus and the entire waiting staff do a dance routine to the guitar playing of the musician in the corner- all very slick, but we are definitely wanting our meal now.

It’s been 45 minutes and no sign. Husband collars a passing waiter [not ours] and asks where our meals are. The waiter goes to see. We wait again. I nab another waiter and ask where the food is. Suddenly there’s a flurry of activity and some panicked faces as they scurry in and out of the kitchen. By now we’re aggrieved. We opt to leave, standing up as a woman approaches with two plates. It’s too late and we’re annoyed. We leave the money on the table for our drinks and starter as three of them pursue us, protesting. But it isn’t nice to be neglected in a restaurant.

We start back towards our end of town and plump for a modest but popular place we’ve been to before, where we are served lovely food with a smile. I get my revenge on ‘Ocean’ with my own Tripadvisor review.

Our return flights are to be overnight. We’re lucky to be seated by the emergency exits for the flight to Lisbon- less lucky to be waiting on the tarmac for an hour and a half for the second leg of the journey, resulting in our missing our bus home from GW, London. C’est la vie…

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 [ and The Year of Familiar Strangers [ Visit my writer Facebook page [ or my website: