A Quest to Find a Hidden Cove

Day trips in Cabo Verde always seem to turn into fairly epic adventures. There are a few reasons for this:

  • First of all, Google hasn’t yet infiltrated Cabo Verde. Most businesses advertise only on Facebook or not at all, so it’s hard to track down directions to restaurants, stores, or even other towns. And because any sort of street sign is rare, you generally wander into a few homes before you find the hidden shop you’re looking for.
  • Second, Cabo Verdean buildings don’t have physical addresses. For example, anything delivered to my house goes to “the yellow embassy house with the barbed wire near the paint store in Palmarejo.”
  • Third, Cabo Verde has a no-stress island vibe, so you can call a restaurant to see if they’re open for lunch, only to find locked doors when you get there fifteen minutes later.

So one day, when two friends and I decided to find Aguas Bellas, a cove “somewhere on the western side of the island,” perhaps we should have known to bring more snacks.

We start off by driving to a town that was supposedly near the cove. Locals then point us down a precarious cliff-hanging road.

I took pictures to distract myself from thoughts of imminent doom.

We casually navigate around a few seemingly recent rockfalls.

After driving down a dry river bed and across a beach, the car gets stuck in mud that smells suspiciously of poo. It takes the three of us intrepid explorers plus a few neighbors to push the car out.

This process involved getting personally covered in poo. After a quick rinse in the ocean, we’re again on our way.

We are quite the curiosity.

We pass some wildlife on our continued trek up the riverbed. The car is rather smelly now.

We take a turn and start gaining altitude.

No sign of a cove yet.

We stop in a field for pictures.

Proof that I came too.

Post-rain Cabo Verde is so green!

The boys clear another impasse. I continue to document our adventure, for posterity’s sake.

The road ceases to exist, but determined, we lace up our hiking boots and continue on foot. Everyone is still rather poo-covered.

We pass a cactus farm.

Our new guide takes us as far as the nearest ledge.

We trek down hills. We trek up hills.

We trek through fields. We trek over rocks.

We find a cove! But alas, it is not the right cove.

Unfortunately, we also determine that this cove is a tad too dangerous for swimming.

So instead, we pause for a snack with a view.

We scramble up the hill over the cove to get a better vantage point. Don’t look down.

We’re several hours in and it’s getting quite hot now. We think we see a cove in the distance…

We find the cove! Unfortunately we are on top of the cove and not in the cove. We consider trying to climb down, but our water supply is dwindling. We think about how nice a swim would be as we turn back.

Things take a turn. We get lost. We find ourselves without water. It’s quickly approaching 100 degrees. The nearby cows refuse to offer any guidance. I stop taking pictures in order to conserve phone battery. We are cranky. We are thirsty. At one point, we pass a skeleton strongly resembling the below.

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A few hours later, we stumble past the cactus farm and into the village where we left the car. We buy bottles of water from a small bar and hide in the shade, nursing our new sunburns. The locals marvel over how long it took us to unsuccessfully find the cove. We climb back into the car, a little worse for wear, and head back to Praia reflecting on the day’s adventure.

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Not every country in the world is safe enough for such adventures. But not every country in the world is wild and untouched enough for such adventures either. Cabo Verde manages to maintain the perfect balance and for that, I am grateful. Cheers to the next adventure!

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