Sandstorms halt play
An eerie haze cast by ‘Bruma seca’ plagued our final few days on Maio as we stared out to sea optimistically hoping the sands carried over on trade winds from Africa might lift enough to allow the once weekly flight from Santiago to get in - and for our island adventures to continue. Ed, a private pilot/failed red arrow, obsessed with online forecasts looking for the 5km visibility needed for the ATR-72's operated by the national airline TICV to operate under visual flight rules. At 1000 on Friday, with our flight at 1300 - he gloomily declared
The vis is at Praia is 3000m, there’s no way these guys are getting in.
Nonetheless at my pressing we jumped into the back of a pick-up and headed for Maio's tiny airport. Bumping along the cobbled road from town Zeb started pointing skywards. Ed was too busy checking his ‘TAFS’ and ‘METARS’ as the reassuring sound of the boy’s favourite twin prop roared overhead, skimming the airport perimeter fence - depositing itself gently on the dusty runway.
Bouncing along Maio's runway we welled with the excitement of more adventures ahead. Our enthusiasm was short lived. Instead of the much anticipated 15 minute connection in Praia, our aircraft was grounded as the sand descended and bruma seca closed Fogo airport once more. We idled away a surprisingly easy 5 hours in Praia's deserted international airport (Zeb and Oz's favourite place), before the airline called time and sent us home for the night - suggesting we might return at some point the following morning to hang out and see if the visibility improved.
Forgoing the airport hotel we headed without delay 30 miles north to Cidade Velha - Cabo Verde’s former capital and now a UNESCO world heritage contender. Checking in to a pousada above the small fishing village, home to a few hundred inhabitants, we spent the evening enjoying a pizza and bottle of vinho verde plotting our next move.
The next morning we woke to an email from the airline (it’s a personal service when you’re flying a private twin prop during covid) informing us we could get a flight to Fogo if we made it to the airport by 1200. It was currently 1000 (Ed hadn’t bothered checking his emails until after breakfast). Some frantic packing and bundling of the boys into another taxi - and we dashed the 45 minutes back to the airport. Covid tests in hand, temperatures checked, we made it to check-in just as the flight was closing.
As ever, the boys took it in their stride, playing with their toy planes and fist pumping the cabin crew who by now knew them on first name terms (which comes with extra cookies).
Finally, we were Fogo bound - or, as Oz would say ‘going to find dinosaurs’.