Spring 2009 – due to the economic crisis, the entire world is gripped with pessimism. The entire world? No! Not far from the African coast, a small and independent country does not cease to resist this negative atmosphere. Believe it or not, there are still places in the world where un damped optimism may be experienced and where residents radiate high spirits in a contagious way. And this despite the fact that they would have much more reason for pessimism than many other people…
Prior to being discovered by Portuguese sailors in the 16th century, the Cape Verde Islands were uninhabited. The mix of cultures, which today is known as “Creole“, is a result of slave and salt trade, which brought some prosperity to the islands. Apart from that, the Cape Verde Islands are not too attractive – due to a scarcity of raw materials and a very dry climate, which significantly aggravates agriculture, a sustainable economic boom has ever happened so far. Rather, die Cape Verde Islands have frequently been afflicted by famines, leading to large-scale emigration and decimating the islands’ population.
While the Cape Verde Islands have been more or less isolated from the economic development in the rest of the world during the Portuguese hegemony, their distance to the African continent has seemingly increased further since the declaration of independence in 1975 and the associated separation from Portugal. But neither the economic crisis, nor the alternating history of the islands has been able to break the optimism of the culturally diverse habitants. Walking through the small villages, one frequently is approached with the words: “Do you want to have a look at my business”? Expecting a business card or a nice and stylish shop, you may easily become disappointed. Actually, the term “business” mainly refers to more or less aesthetic sand pictures or similar souvenirs. On the island of Boa Vista, the real big business is almost completely in foreign investors’ hands, and not in those of the residents. Especially Italians have discovered the Cape Verde Islands for themselves, and run most of the (rare) restaurants and hotels. But even this may not impact the cordiality of the local people, especially of the children, who still look curious towards tourists, which are increasingly present since the opening of the international airport of Boa Vista.
When you search for Boa Vista in Google Earth, a normal tourist will hardly find any good reason to book a ticket to this destination. The satellite picture shows a meagre and sandy island, like a large bunch of rocks in the middle of the blue sea, just north from the equator, and hence right in the middle of the winter trade winds. These winds are constantly and reliably providing the Cape Verde Island with a warm north-easterly breeze. And this, of course, creates a strong attractiveness of the islands towards water sports enthusiast.
While all attractive alternative windsurfing destinations for March are rather expensive (Australia, Maui, Caribbean, …), and European spots are rather unattractive due to low temperatures (Klitmoller), or due to an absence of a reliable wind system (Mediterranean), the Cape Verde Islands are easily accessible via non-stop flights from various European airports. For a ticket, you will be charged approximately 150,- € more than for a trip to the Canary islands, and the flight takes about 7 hours. But while the Canary Islands are everything but blessed by wind from October to March, the geographic location of the Cape Verde Islands is perfect to constantly offer great windsurfing conditions, especially from December to March. All major windsurfing travel agencies, e.g. the German Surf&Action Company, offer trips to the Island of Sal and Boa Vista since a few years, and as the reports and pictures from the Cape Verde Worldcup, as well as wind statistics have created our interest during a long, chilly winter, we finally found ourselves on a beautiful sunny beach with fascinating water colours. The holiday feeling begins already when the plane is approaching Boa Vista International Airport in a long and slight left turn, passing the bay where you will later be windsurfing and lying in the sun. The water colours are really amazing – changing from a bright white to a dazzling turquoise, and finally to a dark blue, while the entire sea is covered with small white caps, which, from a windsurfer’s point of view, bode very well.
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Text: Flo Soehnchen & Chris Hafer
Pix: Chris Hafer, Valerie Luther and Flo Soehnchen, Vera Ritter
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