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Boat Boys and Aluguers

January 6th, 2009 · No Comments

So we left Sal and sailed overnight to isle of Santiago, this is the main island with all the administrative offices. Now for the main island and a port of entry, you would expect some visiting boats, yes, well there was Us. We rounded the corner into the harbour, and thought “What have we let ourselves in for”, has something happened that all the other boats have gone.

Well we’re here now so anchor down in the prime spot.

Arriving at each island you have to check in, instructions in pilot book were clear, what we had not anticipated was the rush from the boat boys for our custom. The boat boys are between 25 and 35 years old and rush along the quay to take your line and help you dock. Their job is to look after your dinghy and keep it safe, for a negotiated price, of course. Silvy was our boy the first day.

Passport check complete we then took a taxi to the customs, where they wanted to see the ships papers, officialdom complete, a sign of relief, we can look at the town. Everyone was very friendly, no problems, but we were the obvious tourist. Our second day, still no other boats, off we went into town by taxi, the docks is not really a place to be walking and it’s a reasonable distance to the plateau where the town is. We had decided to take the communal minibus, they call them aluguer,

up into the mountain region, but as soon as you look interested, all the drivers rush to you to get you to go with them. We selected one, were given our seat, which meant moving other passengers around so we could sit together, remember we do not speak Portuguese, so a lot of map pointing and looking at watches to be sure that we got to where we wanted to go and more importantly were going to get back before dark. The aluguer was overflowing, extra seats, bits of wood, were put it place to accommodate the extra bottoms. The music was on the only setting, booming, off we went. Everybody held on tight. The mountain area was lush, and rose up quickly, passengers got off the minibus wherever they wanted, and a bag of shopping was dropped off too. Before we knew it, the driver stopped and indicated that we should get out, all with lots of smiling, our stop, a small, village high in the mountain. The village was a one road place, little shops in people’s houses, chickens and dogs wandering around, school was coming out and we had some very friendly smiles from the children. In the square was the café where lunch was being served. Note the Christmas tablecloth. After lunch a saunter back to the main road to wait for another aluguer, we waited only minutes before one came The journey back was just as fast and just as loud.

Next day, trip to market and internet cafes. Again our boat boy was there waiting for us on the dock with a big smiling face, trip to market was fantastic, fruit and vegetables very fresh and more importantly for us had not been chilled, so would last longer. Produce was excellent, everyone was so helpful, and happy, I wish now I had bought more.

Internet was not so hot and could not cope with out memory stick. We saw a poster advertising a concert for one of the best fado singers, unfortunately we would gone by then, also it was at night and it’s not advised to be out at night. Click this link to hear Cesaria Evora(suggest a right click and open in new tag to let you do other things while it loads.) While David went off on a photo hunt, I sat on the window sill of a bank; the windows were one-way so I could not see in. Anyway I’m sitting there, minding my own business when the door opens and the uniformed officer signals to me, now I take this to mean get off my window sill, but no he means come in, oh dear how do I get out of this one. It ends up he wants me to have a seat inside the airconditioned bank. Now I have a proper seat, looking out, in comfort while I wait on David. How nice was he, and would that happen at home?

Silvy was having his supper when we got back, and helped us into the dinghy with the shopping. We had the feeling that he never left the boat all day.

Signing out was the same procedure as signing in, except we had the exit stamp, important for arriving at our next destination, the Caribbean.

Now for any other sailors thinking of going to Santiago, don’t think twice, we had a great time filled up with fresh fruit and veg and the fish market was unbelievable. The usual being sensible ashore applies. Before anyone says, yes it is difficult for me to be sensible.

We left bright and early on the Saturday morning, found long acceleration areas around the island which helped us on our way across the Atlantic.

Do we make it in one piece, do we have enough food, do we fall out you will have to wait for the next exciting episode, which will follow later. I hope.

link to full set of pictures in gallery

Link to gallery for trip into Picos

Tags: Atlantic Leg