We met up with the small group of Travelers Century Club folks in the morning, and turned out there would be just six of us total. Nothing had been mentioned about price the night before, and when the driver showed up…yes, he had room, but had to check with his boss how much to charge us. The price was fair for what amounted to an 8-9 hour tour, and we packed in the van, and were off!
Sunrise over the Pestana Hotel pool:
Our first stop after maybe 30 minutes or so was pretty much due north of Praia, a bit into the interior. We were going to check out a craft shop (aka sell you things and get commission for bringing you there) but when we arrive…it seems it no longer existed! It had completely packed up and moved since their last tour two months ago. Oops! He called his head office to verify, and they were just as shocked as he was. So, on we went to the Botanical Gardens:
There wasn’t much to see, so we continued on. Some views from the interior of the island:
The town of Assomada:
We parked in Assomada, and got out to walk around a bit. Assomada was a major market town, being in the centre of the island, where people from all over the island came to trade. First off, the main plaza and church:
A solar tree:
…aaaaand the market!
Oh the shame of selling chickens! Please don’t take my picture!
Whole Foods didn’t have anything on the Assomada market! Mmmmm fresh!
After walking around Assomada for an hour or so, we continued on. The next stop was some remote museum, where I spotted this gem.
Remember Cape Verde, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!
Some more views along the drive. It was a perfectly clear day, and you can see the island of Fogo off in the distance:
Winding our way down towards the coast:
Our final stop was the town of Tarrafal, on the northwest coast. Before lunch, we stopped to visit a prison. During the struggle for independence, this is where the Portuguese kept political prisoners not only from Cape Verde, but from all of their colonies around Africa. The gate to the prison:
Inside the prison:
One of the dentention rooms for prisoners:
After the prison tour, we headed to a pizza restaurant for lunch. We’d been offered “meat or fish” for lunch, and on further probing, it was confirmed that chicken was also an option. They brought out two big platters, one of fish and one of chicken, for the table to share, along with french fries and vegetables, and “one included drink per person.” It was a pretty tasty meal, and after stopping for maybe 45 minutes, it was time to head back to Praia via the eastern route. Maybe it’s a little easier to see on a map:
As we passed Ponta Verde, we had to stop a bit. Why? Because there was a marathon around the island going on. Cool!
The road continued south along the east coast:
Next, we stopped at what was billed a “religious commune, kind of like your Amish people.” See, these folks decided the Catholic Church was getting too liberal for their likings, so they built a commune. We were lead around by a woman who was 20, and had 3 kids…their communal housing:
…and what commune is complete without a goat in a tree!
They’d recently opened up to the outside world a bit, and were of course selling crafts. Paintings, dolls, etc, but they didn’t have any change. The paintings were rather expensive with many over $100, and the whole thing was just a little odd. That combined with no men anywhere, farm animals having sex everywhere, and a 20 year old mother of three giving us a tour…it made me mildly uncomfortable.
On we drove. More coastal views:
We got back to the hotel around five, just enough time to pack things up, have a light dinner, and head to the airport for our late night flight. I would have taken a nap had I known the drama that was to follow! All in all, the tour was super worth it, despite being over $100. We got driven all over the island, saw a great deal more than we would have just staying in the city, and got a much better feel for the island. It was definitely one of the highlights of the trip for me!