Tag Archives: exploring the island

photos: Serra Malageta to Espinho Branco

Our fellow volunteer friend Lynette organized a group hike from Serra Malagueta National Park to the coastal town of Calheta. Serra Malagueta is located in the mountains toward the northern end of Santiago. It’s often cloudy there, and cool, which means at this time of year it’s also greener. There are several endemic species there that are found only in the highest of Santiago’s mountains, including these. From Serra, we descended through ever browner terrain, through agricultural fields, into the town of Espinho Branco.

Outside of Espinho Branco is Rabelarte, an artists’ colony that somewhat paradoxically displays the traditional lifestyle of the Rabelados (‘Rebels’), a group once by its cultural and physical isolation in opposition to Portuguese Catholic rule. Visitors can see the traditional thatched-roof homes and folk art of the Rabelados, which is done on canvas, wood, or found objects like bones and trash. The art for sale in the shop was interesting and original, but what really impressed me was the art filling the homes, such as the pattern of grass thatching painted onto the ceiling of a metal roof, a mixed-media collage, a local landscape painting, and a floor-to-ceiling self-portrait of a painter and his wife.

After checking out Rabelarte we stopped short of our original goal of Calheta and caught a Hiace the rest of the way.

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photos: Praia Baixu

I guess I’ll make April a month for recapping our recent excursions around the island…

These photos are from February, when Adam and I took a day trip to the beach at Praia Baixu. February is off-season at the beach, which meant you could count the people there on two hands. It made for a nice quiet day. Praia Baixu is fairly close to us and direct to get to, but the number of cars is limited. We waited about an hour for a Hiace (public van) to get there, and then lucked out with a bolea (free ride) for the return trip to the main road. We checked out the tide pools (and for me, the cool rocks and cliffs), took a walk through the very small town of Praia Baixu, and had an expensive and tasty tourist-restaurant lunch (none of the restaurants for locals are open regularly during the off-season). I loved this spot.

photos: Aguas Bellas

Weekend before last we hiked with two of our fellow PCV friends to Aguas Bellas, an isolated spot on the west coast of Santiago. While the east coast of the island has two large towns, this side of the island is sparsely populated, with expansive plateaus that are interrupted by canyons that wedge up from the ocean. At this time of year, everything is dry except for the Acacia trees. We descended to the water through a canyon bottom from the outskirts of Assomada, and then headed north along the coast to Ribeira da Barca, where we caught a ride back to the city.