Chapter 2:. Sal Airport  

The Portuguese had owned the islands for hundreds of years. The Portuguese had signed agreements with every large western European nation. This mine had changed hands more times, than any local could recollect. Portuguese owned it. Italians owned it. It was handed back to Cape Verdeans. Cape Verdeans handed it back to Europeans. In between, it flourished and failed. The details weren’t important to anyone.

Many businesses share a similar history. The hotels and shops on the opposite end of the island were not owned by Cape Verdeans. They exist to serve the growing number of tourists. They are owned by Portuguese, Germans, Italians, Senegalese, and others.



I had to return to the airport. A few more hours, and I would have enjoyed the salt lake. As we leave, Jack’s friend explains to me that you can lay back, read a book, and the salt will hold you up without any effort. It is very nice, he tells me.

At the airport I try to give Jack $50 American for his trouble. I shake his hand with it. He refuses. I force it in his hand, he refuses. He will not take my money. He wishes me well and thanks me. I thank him. I thank him as heartily as I can. I thank him in broken Portuguese, unable to say more than obrigad in Creole.

He shakes the hands of a few people he knows in the airport and disappears. I never see Jack again. I cost him more in food, gasoline and time, than I could have ever accepted from a stranger. He leaves smiling and directs me to the correct line for my flight to Sao Vicente.