Home on the Paradise Ilha do Maio, at Last!
Saturday 1st Dec. 2012
We woke up on our first morning and it was raining but warm 25oC. Anyway we went to the Casablanca supermarket and met Bert and Mariama.
They are both very friendly people who welcome everyone with open arms. It was quite funny because a local lady came into the shop dressed in a long skirt and a coat complaining about how cold it was, she looked at Christine and me dressed in our shorts and tee shirts as though we were mad. Bert told her in Portuguese that we had come from England where the temperature was -1oC. Anyway the Casablanca supermarket is now selling freshly baked bread every day, but you ideally have to get there early or pre order it the previous day.
Today we are going for a trip anticlockwise around the island in the ‘Yellow Peril’ to explore in the warm rain. Hopefully tomorrow the sun will shine through. Our trip came to a stop when we came to the village of Figueira da Horta but couldn’t find the tarmac road north. We visited some of the villages in the South before heading back to Vila do Maio where we looked round the new visitor’s centre which is still under construction at the old fort.
We did learn there is great excitement all around the island because the supply ship, which hasn’t been seen for three weeks, came in today.
By the way, we are trying a little experiment. We asked Pirero to purchase a 12 volt car battery for us and we brought from England a power inverter (this changes 12v to 220v) which by itself will give us enough power to run the laptop, power our phones and also let us watch the TV. We also bought a turbine which we hope to mount up to charge the battery. Unfortunately the wind has died down so we are not able to try this at the moment.
The other good news is that after careful inspection, we found that the bird netting that we both painstakingly put up this time last year is still up and all in one piece. Yahoo!!
Sunday 2nd December 2012
As we woke this morning we were happy to see that the rain had stopped but it is still overcast. Now not just the lady from Morro is complaining but it seems to be the whole island about how cold it is. As I am writing this, the temperature is a balmy 24oC and we’re loving it.
We drove the pick-up, to Morro where we gave two footballs, brought with us from the UK, to the “team” of local lads. Today we headed Northwest around the island and it never seems to amaze me on just how friendly everyone is. They all wave ‘hello’ as you pass them.
We managed to find the tarmac road which was a blessing as my rear end was getting just a little numb. The road seems to have been extended since the last time we drove on it and is pretty well maintained also.
Once we got back into Villa do Maio we stopped at ‘Pickpay’ to buy a few things before we looked in on Wolfgang, who has a container in the middle of town and had a few drinks with him and his customers. We got home just after 3pm and the wind started to pick up so my electrician ‘Christine’ started to assemble the turbine just to see if it works.
Would you believe it, it does work. Power is now being fed into the battery. The next thing we now have to do is to locate the turbine in a windy spot and connect the battery to lead that comes from the generator to our property and ‘Bobs your uncle’.
Success, we’ve done it, but the wind needs to be very strong and consistent to continuously charge the battery, so only the low energy lights are being powered by the wind, not the TV, hot water or the fridge. Until we get mains electricity our fridge is just a white kitchen cupboard!
No one can say that we are not trying to do our bit for the environment.
In the evening we went into town for dinner at the Tutti Fruiti restaurant, where Alberto cooked us an amazing Pizza and fries! That’s so English – all the local food on offer and we fancied Pizza and chips. They were authentic Italian style and absolutely delicious.
Monday 3rd December 2012
After driving round to Casablanca supermarket in Morro to collect some provisions, we sat down to breakfast then took a morning stroll along the amazing white sands of Morro beach. The sun is breaking through the clouds and the temperature is starting to climb.
We moved the wind turbine to the top of the roof support so that it gets more wind and charges the battery faster.
Then we set off to return the hire truck to Bemvindo. Actually, we left it at Piero’s front door, because we don’t know where Bemvindo lives. Christine says she thinks he lives in his minibus.
We went to Villa do Maio beach and watched the fishing boats unload.
Then we visited the Tropical bar on the beach for a drink and a chat with Carolyn the Australian owner. Our walk around Vila do Maio led us to look round the shops and Bemvindo spotted us. This was fortunate because we still had his car keys and were able to pay him for the car hire (4,000 escudos per day). Various people said this was expensive, but it was worth it for us to be able to stock up with water, drinks, gasoil for the generator and other supplies, as well as taking the tour of the island.
Achievement of the day: Drilling and screwing the plastic broom-head onto a wooden handle (carefully whittled to fit the pathetic screw-in useless joint which was supposed to hold the broom together).
Tuesday 4th December 2012
Christine borrowed our neighbour’s bike and cycled round to Casablanca supermarket to collect fresh bread rolls.
The journey only took 10 minutes or so, but chatting to Bert and Mariama took a bit longer. It’s great to hear Bert’s insights about Maio and Mariama’s insights about Bert!
We had just returned from another beach stroll (temperature 35 degrees) when the phone rang. It was our travel agent, Opodo, letting us know that our Friday flight had been cancelled by TACV and that we could either leave Maio tomorrow (2 days early) or on Monday (too late to catch our international flight back home).
Needless to say, we got a taxi straight to the TACV office in town, and found out that there was nothing they could do. So we have to leave our lovely island tomorrow. We had booked a snorkelling session with Stephen and Janette from Sunfish Scuba for tomorrow so we called them to cancel and they came out to see us at Wolfgang’s café.
At least we managed to meet them both and catch up with their news, before heading back to our bungalow.
We rapidly did some chores while it was still light, took down the wind turbine, packed away the battery, slapped some red-oxide paint on the air-conditioning brackets and started to pack everything away for tomorrow’s unplanned early flight – check-in at 08.10!!
Wednesday 5th December 2012
We got the bungalow ready for our departure which included taping round the windows to stop the dust getting in. We cleaned everything down, wrapped everything up and put it all away in the large wardrobes and took some last minute photos of Villa Maris.
Saying goodbye to our house, we set off for the airport after only 5 nights on the island.
TACV wanted us to spend 3 nights in Praia, on Santiago, but fortunately we managed to bring forward our flight to Sal, so we will spend 3 nights there now. At least it has nice beaches and a holiday atmosphere.
We enjoyed looking round Praia for the day. Our flight on to Sal does not leave until almost 10pm.
Of course, we spent some time in the Pastelaria Café – Pao Quiente – on the Plateau and some time watching the world go by in Albuquerque Square. We looked round the shops, the main streets with the embassies and Presidential Palace and the market just below the Plateau.
The flight to Sal was late and we didn’t get there until 11pm. At Sal airport, Christine went off to see the TACV Supervisor while I waited for our luggage. It never ceases to amaze us how efficient TACV are when it comes to getting our luggage to meet us, especially as we last saw it on Maio at 8am.
Result! TACV are putting us up in a lovely hotel in Santa Maria for 3 nights, including the cost of taxi’s there and back. I know they are obliged to “take care” of us when they cancel flights they way they have, but we had problems two years ago getting the Praia Supervisor to sort out accommodation for us. We are in the Hotel Sabura, just opposite the Riu hotel and just 20 minutes walk into town.