Exploring Tourism in Cape Verde
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Brava Island

Brava, Cape Verde

Brava Island

There is no contrast more surprisin than to discover the exuberance of the sights of Brava Island, lightly blurred by the persistent mist. Consisting of little more than 60 square metres situated to the west of Santiago, covered with incredible vegetation, and lulled by the sounds of the most beautiful creole mornas of the poet Eugénio Tavares.

Creole culture is embedded in Brava, as if an ongoing homage to the poet. The inhabitants express themselves in a particularly musical creole.

The traveller coming from Fogo Island can, for example, disembark in the rudimentary port of Furna, enveloped by an enchanting bay where there is traditional fishing. This is the place where first contact with the island is made, between luscious vegetation and the eternal sea, as the poet cited.

Similar to any other island of Cape Verde, the little fishing fleet provides the essential protein needs of the inhabitants and everywhere it is possible to have at the table an appetising plate of fish, mainly garoupa pintada, bica, and esmoregal.

From Furna to the town of Nova Sintra, one has to go round the famous 99 bends of the slow, curving road, to the south-west toward the interior of the island. It is a short distance, but not at all monotonous. At each bend, which you can recount, the landscape changes slightly, with the scenery always dominated, apart from the water, by the ever powerful volcano of Fogo Island. Feelings and thoughts unite in harmony to the enjoyment of the traveller, even in hidden away places which are not always in the guide books. For a thousand and one reasons there are those who believe that Brava is the most beautiful island in Cape Verde.

It would not be difficult to understand the reasons for the baptism of the capital of Brava Island as Nova Sintra, or New Sintra, considered the most beautiful city of the archipelago. The Sintra in Portugal was the obvious inspiration of this captivating place made up of dream houses surrounded by ever-flowering gardens, where there are also vegetable gardens lovingly tended.

The Eugénio Tavares central square in Nova Sintra symbolises the way in which nature has decorated the island. It enjoys unique climatic conditions of permanent humidity and freshness, with flowers and a surprising variety of trees which grow together as far as the eye can see, flourishing and renewed all year round. All this surrounded by charming well-maintained architecture.

Here, serene and enjoyable moments of contemplation may be had. It is not difficult to understand why Brava Island is called island of the flowers and beautiful women, and also as the island of the poets, above all because Eugénio Tavares left his indelible mark on this place which inspired him and which he proudly adopted.

From Nova Sintra one can go up to Nossa Senhora do Monte and onto the central plain, to realise the importance that these vast fields had in the history of Brava Island. Farming is still good here, as far as Cachaço and Monte da Ponta Verde.

Apart from this, there are four pedestrian routes for visitors who can stay a few days in Brava Island: go up the Mato to the Pico das Fontainhas, the highest peak of the island (750m); go down from Campo Baixo to Porto de Tantum, with its village perched on a cliff; go from Mato Grande to Cachaço, going past Chão de Aguada and the house where Eugénio Tavares used to stay and compose his mornas; and from Furna to Vinagre, passing below Santa Bárbara.

Fonte do Vinagre or Vinegar Fountain is a strange name for a peculiar spring, which attracts inhabitants from this region. The water which spouts out here has an acid taste and such characteristics have earned it the reputation for giving medical benefits. It is thought that the cause of this phenomenon is due to the fact that underneath there is a large vein of metals. Whatever it is, experience recommends little use of this mineral water; the inhabitants of the region suffer from lack of calcium in their teeth, which can be connected to its regular consumption.

At Furna, a fishing area in the north-east region of the island, exposed to prevailing winds, one is not always lulled by the peace that we can find in Fajã d’Água, sheltered on the north-east. To walk down the Ribeira d’Água path to Fajã is a delight for the eyes, dancing between the bright green of the countryside and the intense blue of the sea, enjoying this authentic gift of nature.

The bay of Fajã is very inviting, especially on stormy days when other places of the island are being thrashed about by the bad weather. This is the reason why it is also an excellent place for fishing. Enthusiasts can’t have enough of such favourable conditions. Also the natural scenery, such as a natural pool, make this a special place, unique for quiet walks and other activities that fulfill the ideal of ecotourism, the connection between man and nature.

The welcoming characteristics of Fajã became particularly known when the port was used by American whale ships that used to fish in this part of the Atlantic. These contacts became regular resulting in an exclusive emigration to the USA by the inhabitants of this are, so much so that links to this country are very common in Brava Island, both in the language and in consumer habits. However, they haven’t given up the habit of football and table football. Even the young girls have taken it up freely.

Nevertheless, it is not difficult to understand the importance of traditional music, such as the Colinha and principally the morna, speaking about everyday life in Brava Island. This poetic musical expression is native to the Boa Vista Island but is very special on the island of the flowers. Here the morna sings about the marriage between man and sea, as is found in the poetry of Pierre Loti, and sings above all about love and longing, reflecting the soul of Eugénio Tavares and the adventurous migrating saga of the people of this island.

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