The open doors of Maio




Outside of the Cape Verdean capital city, the country's traditional hospitality and friendliness seems to become more authentic. An example of this is the island of Maio, where this amicability is expressed by the perpetually open doors in its houses, which are one of its trademark images.

Maio's tiny airport, its façade a joyous yellow, welcomes A Semana Online "with open doors" as well, while the sun, high in the clear blue sky, hints at the beautiful summer day to come.

An arid landscape with a few short trees here and there sets the tone for the scenario between the airport and the island's largest urban center, Porto Inglês.

The ride between the airport and the town takes place in what is probably the most popularly-used form of transportation in Cape Verde, a Toyota Hiace minivan. On Maio, there are no social strata - nor is there even any discrimination against the animals that board the vehicles, because, when it comes to making ends meet, everything goes in terms of passengers.

One aspect immediately sets Maio apart from Praia, Cape Verde's capital city - the fact that locals leave their front doors open. It's true: the people of Maio preserve old customs that many parts of the country have had to let slip into oblivion because of the increase in crime that has affected much of Cape Verde.

We get off the minivan to converse with an inhabitant of this peaceful island, Suzete Moreira, who is sitting next to the front door of her house in front of the fine-grained white sand beach with turquoise waters.

Like her neighbors, she always leaves her door open, and says she's never had any problems. She does, however, tell us that she has heard of burglaries "farther up," pointing to the more sparsely populated areas of the island.

We move on to Calheta, another region of the island located north of Porto Inglês, to find out if what its residents' opinions contrast with those we heard in the main town. Once again, the trip is a short one and the landscape is similar to that seen between the airport and Porto Inglês.

A local woman who prefers not to give her name is doing household chores in front of her home, the door of which is open as well. Like Suzete, she says that there have been "some robberies here and there," but that "locals are never involved" - a situation typical of places where everyone knows everyone else.

Despite this, she demonstrates no reluctance to keep her door open, and even tells us that "when it's real hot, my husband puts a mattress in the street and sleeps out here."

A symbol of this freedom and trust that is shared among the people of Maio is the quantity of children playing outside until late. "The children play as long as they want and no one bothers them," says this Calheta native, who is happy to be living in the village.

ASemana Online: The open doors of Maio


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Page updated: 25th July 2012 14:18