Before we left Burracona I had mentioned to my companions that there was, mysteriously, a burnt out forty two seater coach in the middle of nowhere just off the track north of Burracona with someone living in it. How it got to that location along a narrow rock and boulder strewn path is anybody’s guess. Nevertheless, there it sat as if beamed down from the skies. Naturally their curiosity demanded that we go in that direction to see it. We set off on the bumpy ride until we got to the location only to find that the coach had disappeared and been replaced by a car in similar condition. I wondered if it was the result of a new twist on the bedroom tax by the Camara.
Rather than go back along the track to Burracona we decided to take the scenic route around the base of Monte Leste but soon discovered that we needn’t go around the mountain. We could in fact go through it. A ravine had been created through the middle of it where the screed had been excavated for use as hardcore, probably to develop the new road along which we had travelled north from Palmeira and were now about to use to get to Espargos.
It was here that things got out of hand.
Being that the new road is wide and fairly straight-ish. I suggested to Jonathan and Zara that they might want to have a bit of fun and open the throttle up while making our way to Espargos by using Morro Curral, the highest point in Espargos, as a sight line. Giving them a head start to avoid being smothered by their dust trail it was far too late when I realised that they had got caught up in the moment and missed the fork to the left that would take them to Espargos, and were now racing flat out in a blur and a cloud of brown dust heading straight back to Palmeira.
C’est la vie. I never said that I was a professional.
After a later than planned lunch at Bom Dia café, our next destination was planned to be Pedre De Lume.
Heading out of town, I smilingly returned what I thought were the friendly waves of some locals as I turned right at the Police Station only to find that the frantic waving was to tell me that I was taking us the wrong way down a one way street and into oncoming traffic. The terrified expression on the face of the truck driver heading straight toward us also gave us a clue. A quick about turn was called for while I waited to be arrested but we were on the tarmac road to Pedre De Lume without further incident.
Arriving at Pedre De Lume, we by-passed the entrance to the Salinas and climbed the hill to the rim of the crater. The elevated view is the best vantage point to take in the enormity of the crater in its entirety and to imagine the hardships and suffering of the thousands who laboured in such a deadly bowl of brutality for the profit of their colonial masters. Paradise and purgatory rolled into one.
Descending once again to sea level we made our way out of the village, passing on the outskirts, the tall unfinished structures that should be luxury apartments but now resemble abandoned lookout posts.
Travelling south along the gravely track, hugging the shoreline past the shipwreck and toward the wind turbines with their blades spinning furiously, we come to the small secluded cove at Baia da Parda. A truly magnificent and peaceful spot. Unfortunately it was too late in the day to stop for any length of time so, reluctantly, we started to make our way along the bottom of the deep ravine under the gaze of a wide winged seabird circling overhead.
The ride along the ravine is as exhilarating as any on the island. Black walls of steep ragged volcanic rock either side of the ravine cast dark shadows along the sandy path lined with lush green shrubbery. The path eventually gives way to a narrow winding climb to the summit and the plateau of Morro de Serra Branca which we travel along using the winding track that leads toward the outskirts of Santa Maria.
Climbing to the top of Serra Negra we are greeted by a most wonderful panoramic view of the length of Kite Beach where the snow white tips of the waves top the Turqoise water in a continuous flow toward the golden stretch of sandy beach. Santa Maria is laid out in the distance like an unfinished multi coloured tapestry woven by a drunken sailor as we watch the sun dip lower toward the western horizon.
It is the perfect way to end a day out in the saddle. There were certainly no complaints from my companions nor indeed, thankfully, from the Hernia or Haemorrhoids and I would recommend the journey to any visitors to Sal who would like to broaden their view of the island.
Just remember the toilet rolls and water.