We walk along the seafront of the large beach of Chaves, on the lookout for the incursions of the waves above.
The trades that generate them blow loudly. In alliance, the wind and waves punish the sandy coast of the west of the island. They keep the beach flag red and a few sunbathers standing at the back.
We see their shapes along the endless bay. It is sprinkled right down to the foot of the sand mountain range that isolates the beach from the ocher expanse of the interior.
The sea water is at 23º. On a day of good oceanic mood, the baths and dives of the figures would give the lifeguard something to do
In those conditions, the detached man remained half-sunken in his wooden tower. He just peeked from time to time if some deranged soul challenged the Atlantic.
The Emblematic Chimney (of the Beach) of Chaves
We continue north, towards the old chimney of Chaves. We let her guide us like a brick beacon. Since long since deactivated and bequeathed to the dunes that surround it, this chimney, however unlikely it may seem, had its era of smoky glory.
In the early XNUMXth century, investors found the surrounding clayey soil to be ideal for producing bricks and tiles. And that they could then sell them in the nearest countries, in Guineas, in Senegal. The manufacturing unit was developed.
It even gave work to dozens of Cape Verdean employees, some of whom migrated from other islands. Without warning, in 1928, the factory closed its doors.
Over time, at the whim of the wind, sand and bushes invaded the lower section of the ovens. Not long after a hundred years, the chimney resists against the mostly blue sky.
It became a brand image of the island of Boa Vista. In those parts, only the palm trees of the Pérola de Chaves restaurant challenge its supremacy.
Step by step, we arrive at the small oasis valley in which this business is installed. Sitting on white chairs, some families relax in a sunny conviviality.
Nearby, two friends armed with sandboards, they have fun sliding down the dune, starting from the slippery summit where a Cape Verdean flag waves.
We also went up. From there, we contemplate the vastness of the beach and the 8km semi-desert that still separated us from Sal Rei, the capital of Boa Vista.
Half-round in Plenas Dunas da Boa Vista, in search of the capital Sal Rei
Convinced that, on foot, it would take too long, we returned to the starting point. In Cabeçadas, we take a ride to the city.
We arrived in Sal Rei at around three-thirty in the afternoon. The heat of the plunging sun was fading. This made it easier for us not only to walk around but also to take photographs.
We leave the ride in the middle of Avenida dos Pescadores, a few meters from the Wakan Bar, which serves as an unusual separator.
We take a look at Praia d'Diante. We travel it to the opposite end. by the house tut dret, we are surprised by the athletic frenzy of an outdoor gym.
The floor is the sand of the beach. The wall of an abandoned and ruined house was equipped with iron bars. Right there, with no great conditions but no excuses, five or six men were strengthening their muscles. We got into conversation.
We realized at a glance that they were almost all, if not all, immigrants from Guinea Bissau. They worked as security guards at the various resorts spread along the coast of Boa Vista. Thus, it was possible to perceive the zeal with which they gave themselves to the push-ups, elevations and similar exercises.
In the cove by d'Diante, the fishing boats swayed to and fro, depending on the sway of the protected sea, much more tamed than that of Praia de Chaves.
Two fishermen get into one of them and set sail. On land, the people of the humble neighborhood that occupied the rocky ledge filled with slimes that separated Praia Diante from the adjacent bay did for their lives. Or entertained the time.
The Peaceful Life of the Capital Sal Rei
Two buddies were playing a game of goldfish, on a tiny board of this African game. A smiling owner was cleaning her Kapadocia bar for the night that was soon to be announced. Three young friends, armed with handmade surfboards, were playing in the swimming pools and puddles bequeathed by the low tide.
We return to the urban heart of Sal Rei. We wander through the houses on the ground floor, surrendered to the decadent beauty of its pastels that have long to be repainted. We stopped in front of one of those unpretentious buildings.
For once, we barely see the facade. A Cape Verdean and African craft store had taken over. One of his employees sewed on a machine worthy of a museum.
A race, flag and map of Cape Verde, acted as a skirt for the table on which the machine was placed. With a tape measure around her neck, the lady gave us a big smile and delicious moments of chatter, stolen from the sewing of the finished blue dress.
We continued, with the islet of Sal Rei always ahead. Until we bumped into an extension of Amílcar Cabral Avenue, which was no longer named. And with the city's municipal fishmonger.
At the entrance, a group of fishmongers dressed in scarves and gaudy capulanas were arguing with great excitement.
That night, the teenage daughter of one of them had not slept at home. Unprecedented for the mother, more than a case, her absence was a drama whose approach and resolution her colleagues insisted on pointing out.
Despite the commotion, we threw another joke and fell into its goto. Thereafter, the discussion alternated with combined poses, mouths and remarks that made us blush.
Discovering the Boa Vista Island Desert
We were a mere 16º above the equator. Night fell in a flash. With the next few days to plan, forced to dispatch some “office work” that was accumulating, we anticipated the return to the hotel.
We did it in a jeep Jimmy that we had pre-rented, we thought it was up to exploring the island.
The next morning, we left Cabeçadas as early as we could. We point to the south of the island and its Santa Monica beach. We had also thought of going through Varandinha.
An unexpected fluvial phenomenon distracted us from the plans and held us in the red desert south of Viana and Ribeira do Rabil.
We drove through this dusty waste, concentrating on keeping to what we thought was the road. Without warning, a stream came from the opposite direction. He walked along it unhurriedly, with forked advances, not always synchronized.
That road creek left us stunned. As they explained to us later, it happened because the strengthened winter trades diverted water from the Ribeira do Rabil. They made it flow, like spontaneous rivers, through the deepest furrows of the desert.
Confirming where it came from would require a detour of many kilometers. Accordingly, we have resumed Kurral Bédju's original destination.
We pass by the ultimate resort with a southern Maghreb look. Soon, by a huge herd of goats eager to drink from a nearby pool.
Old Corral da Boa Vista. Legacy of a Village that Ruined
From this threshold of asphalt and civilization bubist, we got into one of the most stony roads on the island. Fifteen minutes of jolts later, once again on the verge of the Atlantic, we found the ruins we were looking for, also stony, sterilized by the inclement sun.
They were, above all, walls and walls, with the company of thorny bushes.
The Old Curral looked out over a salt pond. On a dry and inhospitable island like Boa Vista, it was this same lake and its salt that justified the human presence in those inhospitable confines.
Similar to what happened in the neighboring island of Sal, in addition to fish, the natives of Curral Velho had salt, there for sowing.
Well, more than fish, salt was rare. And valuable.
Its export to the coast of mainland Africa and to other islands in Cape Verde generated a livelihood that compensated for the hardship of subsisting in that harsh hell.
At the height of summer, the temperature hovered around 40º. At any time of the year, ensuring clean water was a daunting challenge. As if that wasn't enough, even elementary, from the XNUMXth century onwards, the village was the victim of pirate incursions into Boa Vista.
The islanders have reorganized. They built Fort Duque de Bragança on the islet of Sal Rei and moved to an area under their protection, the area of the contemporary city of Sal Rei.
With island of sal and other places competing to provide much more salt, Curral Velho was abandoned to the sun, to time, and to the birds and turtles that proliferate in the sand-palm groves of the surrounding Protected Landscape.
Povoação Velha and the Old Desert of Viana
On the way back, we detour to Povoação Velha. More than Curral Velho, this is the town in the genesis of the history of Boa Vista. We found only a few rows of low houses, white, blue, arranged at the foot of hills forgotten by erosion.
They are separated by a wide paved road that, despite the dryness, the residents try to endow with verdant palm trees.
Whatever you find, despite its insignificance, this was the first town in Boa Vista and was also its capital. Until 1810, the year in which the newly fortified Sal Rei took the lead.
We return to the jeep. We left there oriented. We stop to admire the dunes of the small Viana Desert, which is said to be 1km wide by 5km long.
In practice, this mini-desert is a stronghold in which the sands blown from the Sahara by trade unions are concentrated, in the form of successive dunes.
In the good manner of Sara, it houses its own date palms and some of the countless acacias that color Boa Vista green. The coconut community, on the other hand, would hardly be seen in the great original desert.
Instead of stopping at Sal Rei, we continued to Atalanta beach.
With a 10km extension, facing north, exposed to all winds, trades and less constant, hit by storms and endless waves, at Atalanta beach we unveil the wildest side of Boa Vista. In such a rude and savage way that he claimed and showed his visitors who had arrived by land one of his nautical victims.
Atlanta Beach and the Ghostly Wreck of the freighter “Cabo de Santa Maria”
We park Jimmy. We walked outside the beach.
After almost an hour, we glimpsed the objective of the walk, an ornate, rusty and ghostly wreckage of a ship that the waves seemed to pass through.
On September 1, 1968, the Spanish freighter “Cape Santa Maria” ran aground, right there, everything seems like forever.
In the image of the Chaves chimney, it became a symbol of Boa Vista.
Even if your ultimate nautical trip and the wreck remain shrouded in controversy.
It is also said that the freighter carried four bells destined for a cathedral in Brasilia.
The main reason for the sinking remains to be determined. It is known that shortly after leaving Tenerife, the crew was confronted by a tropical storm and cyclonic trade winds.
It was not considered a sufficient reason for such a large and well-equipped freighter to end up running aground. Over time, many other suspicions of incompetence and carelessness have been raised.
What is known for sure is that, on the morning of Sunday, September 1, 1968, the inhabitants of Boa Vista came across the stranded ship and generated a continuous stream of unloading the cargo. For almost a year, the “Cape Santa Maria” gave work to many residents.
Even considering that the most voluminous and valuable cargo was kept, it is said that, like Bread for a Nautical God, almost all the olives, oil, melons, Jerez wine, flour and many other foods ended up on the table of the good sighted people.