In October 2016 Louise & I joined a dance trip to Santa Maria in Sal, Cape Verde. Since we had fallen in love with Santa Maria in February last year, we decided to join the festival “Sabor a Cabo Verde”, organized by a Portuguese travel agency. The focus of the week was Kizomba and the instructors were all Cabo Verdianos, even though they all live outside Cape Verde today. I have to admit I am not a festival fan. But this was something different. We had an absolutely amazing week!
The location was hotel “Belorizonte”, the same hotel that we had been staying in in February. The hotel has a relaxed ambiance, is situated right on the beach and has excellent shows every evening. We figured that nothing could go wrong if we went back there and on top added some dance and new acquaintances. We had asked beforehand to stay in the same bungalow area as last time and managed to get one just opposite our “old” 😉 The hotel has all inclusive concept. The food is not a gourmet experience but it is OK. Rather much veggies which I like! And fresh papaya every day!
Louise & I arrived a day before the rest of the group. And that first day was amazingly beautiful! Last time we had clouds and very chilly winds almost the full week. The first day of this trip was actually the first and last day we got with clear blue sky 😉
And so Vasco, in charge of Sabor a Cabo Verde, and a whole bunch of people arrived and the dancing could start. I would say half the group were Swedish & Danish and the rest half mixed Europeans. We had a very nice week with the group, attending workshops during the day and parties during the night. The schedule was not too packed so there was always a lot of relax time. I did attend a lot of workshops but not all, and also not all evening activities. I liked the freedom of having the possibility to dance and be social but also to chill and go my own way. Vasco is a real sweet heart too and was never far away if support was needed. 2016 the instructors were Ze Rui, Ze Barbosa, Isaac Barbosa, Tony Pirata & Avelino Chantre. The schedule for 2017 is found here>>
Belorizonte has a very talented animation team that entertains hotel guests every evening with shows & fun. My favorite nigh is the Africando show where the group performs different dances from allover Cape Verde. After the shows finish there is always some fun on the stage for the audience, with the possibility to try some of the dances, with focus on Kizomba. Or Coladeira, as the style traditionally danced in Cape Verde is called. The shows and the fun are always available in Belorizonte. But due to Sabor a Cabo Verde even more fun was arranged every evening. Sometimes the group stayed at the hotel for common dinner and dancing and some nights were organized at different locations in the little town of Santa Maria or elsewhere in the tiny little island.
After 9 days in Sal me and Louise joined Sabor a Cabo Verde extended stay, including the exploration of two other islands in Cape Verde. But that is for next post :-). Finally, those knowing me or that follows my blog knows that whenever me and Louise travels together we usually have “odd” weather. And this trip was of course no exception. The full week in Sal did not offer that much sun, however the climate was warmer than in February and very pleasant. At some point big waves started to role in and even caused a small flood for the following days. Few pictures below 😉
The island Sal in Cape Verde is not so much more than sea and desert. It is said that Cape Verde has an average och 350 sunny days a year and after some dark winter months me & Louise were eager to feel the warmth of this sun.
We were delighted the first day when we saw the white sand and the turquoise water. Luckily I took some pictures that first day because that weather never returned during our week in Sal. We did have another half day of good weather and that was the hours when we went on an island excursion. Therefore it looks on my pictures like we had a sunny week but actually there were dark sky the rest of the days. Since Sal is a very windy island it was almost too cold to lie on the beach most days. And guess what? Still we enjoyed ourselves so much that we are returning in October 😉
We had chosen an all-inclusive concept in a resort by the sea, called Belorizonte. No high rise buildings but just cute little bungalows spread out all over the complex. There were three pool areas. The size of the hotel made it possible to always find some peace and quietness. The guests were a good mix of nationalities and types. Lots of Kite Surfers, couples, friends and just a few families with kids (rough sea makes Sal not optimal for children, lucky us ;-)) There was a buffet for breakfast, lunch & dinner. Unfortunately the food was a bit tasteless and over cooked. But that helped us keeping weight since one plate was enough 😉
At night the animation team gave different great shows and it was also possible to try some Cabo dances afterwards :-). I have to state that the day time animation in the hotel was very moderate and laid back, something we were very thankful for. It was both possible to be entertained in case you wanted that but also possible for a peaceful moment at the sea with just the sound of the waves or at one of the swimming pools.
We stayed close to the town Santa Maria. A small little village with a few shops with souvenirs, mainly from Guinea Bissau, some cafés and a handful of dance bars. We took a stroll through the residential area one afternoon but mostly stuck to a few more lively streets and the beach area.
One day we took a half a day island exploration tour. There is really not that much to see in the island Sal but it was a fun get away in Jeeps and three girls from our city, that we had become acquainted with, were in the same tour 🙂 And floating in a salt crater was a fun experience!
So what did we enjoy so much that we have the urge to go back? Cape Verde has a very rich culture around music & dance. And me & Louise love to dance. After dinner & the daily show we had the possibility to dance Kizomba with the animation team. And in town you found a few cafés with live music every night with locals dancing traditional Cabo dances like Coladeira, Funana & more. Since we were there around carnival time it was also some Brazilian rhythms played one night. And there was a great local dance bar called Calema in town with Afro house which is the type of music I enjoy mostly nowadays. Check out my YouTube list that I just started for some inspiration, found here>>
Apart from the dance & the music we liked the wind & the rough sea and the endless beach. And the laid back and stress free atmosphere. In October every year a Portuguese travel agency arranges a week of dance in Sal, actually in the same hotel where we stayed. The event is called “Sabor a Cabo Verde”. We will travel back to join this week and after we will continue to explore two more of the totally 9 inhabited islands in Cape Verde, Sao Vicente & Santo Antao. And an extra plus for me with Cape Verde is also that I am studying Portuguese and I love to listen to this amazing language, both spoken and sung.
Already looking forward to next adventure!! Cabo Verde, no stress 😉