There’s a not very loud ‘beep’ followed almost immediately by a question “Taxi?”
Within a couple of hours I’ve come to know this as the soundtrack of the streets in Santa Maria on Sal, one of the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa.
I say streets, but the main tourist town seems little more than a colourful and quasi-colonial main avenue with a few dusty side streets.
This is tourist hell according to some Cape Verdeans.
I think as ‘over developed’ tourist towns go it’s actually quite palatable. I like its easy manner and relaxed, smiley residents.
“Hey,” one shouts. “You promised to come see my market stall.”
I haven’t set eyes on him before.
“Maybe next time,” I wave dismissively.
He laughs. It’s no hassle. No problem.
No stress, like it says on the t-shirts around the town.
The walk to the end of the road involves stepping over a few dogs sleeping in the middle of the cobbled street and shaking my head a couple of times at ‘beep’… “Taxi?”
A beach bar on the sand beckons. Actually a cold beer in a beach bar on pristine golden sand lapped by what could be ‘touched up’ brochure waters beckons.
I want to take a photo of the perfect tropical scene. Between me and the sea is a snoozing sunbather. I can’t tell if it’s an overweight man or an overweight, topless woman with small breasts.
Whatever he/she is, it spoils the scene.
The waiter brings my beer. The air is warm, the beer is icy. Perfect.
I’ve a few hours to spend before it’s time to jump on a plane and hop to another island where tourism comes way down the line from real life.
This is the buffer zone.