Sunday, 26 February 2017

Lapworth (the sound of gennys made us feel we were back home on the canal)

On Thursday we hired a pickup truck to have a look around the island of Maio.  We asked Dhiyama (one of the guys in the Buddhist community who look after the villas) to come with us as he has a lot of local knowledge having lived here for nine years.  We were out for about six hours and went round the entire island, taking in all ten villages. 

The northern beaches are famed for turtles when they are in egg laying season which, unfortunately, is later in the year; they are currently all back in Africa.  Although there were no turtles we saw many birds and a few butterflies.

The only shot I could get of a blue butterfly, similar to but smaller than the British Small Blue (1.5 - 2 cm wingspan)

As with so many islands in the Atlantic its early use by man was for salt extraction.  It seems most of the seafaring European countries have had a part in the history of salt extraction.  The English were here for many years and the main village, where our villa is, is called Porto Ingles.

It is a very green island considering its volcanic origin and all the agriculture is for internal consumption.  The only exportable product other than salt that we have been aware of is charcoal.  Outside each village are charcoal pits – the vast areas of acacia trees are used for making charcoal. The finished product is partly exported and partly used by the villagers for cooking.

Empty charcoal making pit

A few more pictures of our trip round the island:

Sand dunes on the west coast

Fish caught by hand line – Karen ate the red garoupa and I had the big grey one but I can't remember what it was called

Village of Figuera in an arid area in the east with a new church to the left.  The only religon seems to be Catholicism which probably accounts for the large number of children in some families

Empty buzio shells - large whelks. These are picked by hand by fishermen diving into the sea

Santana bay - typical empty beach

We took it easy on Friday - swam in the sea and had a cooked lunch on the beach and just a snack in the evening.  There are several bars/restaurants in the village and it seems half of them are owned by Italians.  

We woke on Saturday to no power and soon found that the whole island was without electricity.  It was a planned outage for work by electrical contractors who are extending power to the whole island.   They usually plan the outages for Sundays when everything is closed but for some reason had it on Saturday instead - it was out until three in the afternoon.  Walking around the village during the day we were accompanied by the sound of generators; it felt like we were back home on the towpath.

A bit of history

The island was first discovered by Portuguese sailors on May 1st 1460 hence its name.  It was mainly occupied by the English and Portuguese who extracted salt and exported it back home until the early 20th century.   Salt extraction stopped, the foreigners left, leaving a scattering of goat and pig farmers behind.  The increase in worldwide tourism in the late 20th century saw the introduction of an airport in 1990; there are two flights a week, both from Santiago (largest Cape Verde island).  The flights bring in about 20 -30 tourists each week but there are plans now to increase this to a maximum of 20,000 a year which will make a large difference to the villages and the people.

Here are a few shots from around our villa:

The villa complex has access to a little cove which we have swum in a few times

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