Cabo de Vela looked like a native village that was left behind by time. No modern amenities were apparent, at least at first glance. It looked like a parched, primitive place surrounded by wasteland. How could anyone survive, let alone thrive, in a place like this? But there was more to it than I would have guessed. Cabo de Vela is a tourist destination that attracts a certain type of people.
As we followed the coastline into the bay, all we could see was desert wasteland and fishing pots making an obstacle course of the bay. We anchored in about eight feet of water and caught hold right away. It was a great anchorage: calm and protected with good holding. But land did’t look like it would hold much interest. Dave had heard of Cabo de Vela before, though. It is supposed to have good kiteboarding, which — aside from a sailing break — is the main reason we stopped. Looking to shore I had my doubts, even though the bay looked promising (if you avoid all the fishing pots) and we had our own gear. So we did what we always do, and went for a hike to explore the island. Steve on Slow Flight picked us and Peter and Sally from Milly up on his dinghy and we beached it in middle of… town?
We first stopped into a little bar and found out it was a kiting center! The owners were very nice and we chatted with them for a bit. We promised to come back for cold beers upon our return. Then we followed the main road through town. The only road as far as I could tell and it really was just some tire tracks in the dirt.
The road followed the coastline out of town. It may not have been paved, but it was easily distinguishable in the parched desert sand.
I’m not sure what all the huts were for. They were cute but looked primitive. I didn’t see any signs of running water, bathrooms, or electricity — except for the power lines in the back that we knew were dead.
There are several inns too accommodate the vacationing kiteboarders when they come and apparently they do come. The rooms are separate like cottages, but wide open since there is no air conditioning. For privacy, you can close the flaps on the front and there is a fence around the back. I don’t think there is a rear wall at all.
Some of the buildings were quite large. We weren’t sure what they were for. Innkeeper’s office? Restaurant? Community center? Houses?
Sally took a peek inside one and still had no clue what its purpose was.
Most of the buildings are stitched together strips of cactus. The kite center owner said cactus is ideal because it naturally insulates. It’s not so great at keeping out rain, but she said they only get three days of rain a year. Some of the buildings have hand woven doors and shutters in attractive patterns. This village is really quite unique to anything I’ve ever seen.
I’m just assuming this was a home, but it seemed more personalized and permanent than the other places.
Here is the inside of one place. Hmmm, home? Inn room? At least it has a floor.
This clay vase must be the water supply.
This was another kiting/windsurfing place. The guys were getting excited about the prospect, but there wasn’t any wind. We were told that the wind picks up most days around 3pm.
Once we left town, there wasn’t much else. Pantu is the name of the refuge, but not sure what the cross signifies.
There were two roads, a high road and a low road. Steve and Sally took the low road, which I’m glad I didn’t, because they had a steep climb up a hill to rejoin us.
Peter’s water was just out of reach, but Dave was there to help. Even though it looks desert-like, the air was not dry like the California deserts. We still had the typical tropical humidity, but that did nothing to stave off a hefty thirst as we hiked.
After Hurricane Matthew went north up and over the ABC islands (thankfully), he angled back south to Colombia. This fishing boat was a casualty. It still looked in good condition, but we couldn’t see the bottom. It was certainly hard aground, though. Someone set up a camp onshore in front of it. I assume to make sure no salvagers came and took it away or no one stripped it.
We walked so far, you can’t even see our boats back there. And there was nothing but scrub and dirt the entire way.
Finally, we crested the the peak where the lighthouse sat. Almost there.
We made it, but it wasn’t much of a lighthouse.
In fact, it was about as simple as it gets. Not sure what powered it. Electrical lines were strung through Cabo de Vela, but there was no power plant to power them yet.
The windward side of an island — oh wait, we were actually on a continent now — is always more rugged. And frequently more dramatic and green and beautiful. Still just desert here, though.
On the return trip, the guys climbed another hill just for the sake of climbing it. Sally and I walked around. But Peter’s picture really demonstrates the absolute nothingness we hiked through.
Steve flashed us, so Sally returned the favor. Hmmm, must have been a two part top. Hahaha!
The feeling of desolation here! Can you imagine living in a place like this?
This dog greeted us in the village when we came ashore and then joined us on our hike. It hiked the entire way to the lighthouse and back with us. But when we tried to give it water, it shied away. Many countries don’t treat dogs as pets like we do. They treat them as pests. So sad.
After that hike, these huts really looked like a civilization.
Dave knew what was coming next…
Beer! Cold beer! Hahaha! I had to learn to like beer, but I tell you. After that hike, those beers tasted like the best thing ever!
We decided to stay an extra day to see if the wind would pick up for kiteboarding. It didn’t after the hike, but we did get a dramatic sunset…
And one of the three days of rain they get each year.
The next morning everyone else headed out for another hike. I passed to stay aboard and work on the blog. I noticed this funny looking blue thing heading for our boats. We’d had lots of curious fishermen and families cruise past us on their boats, all friendly and waving. But this somehow felt different. Maybe just because I was alone.
They were very focused on getting to Milly and never noticed me. With no one aboard and coming out, they still tried to get to the sugar scoop. So I called out, “hola” to get their attention. They looked to Milly again, then abruptly turned and headed for Livin’ Life. There were four boys all laughing and carrying on. I know they had a hard row, so after the initial, “Como estas? Bien. Y tu’?” I said in my broken Spanish, “Ese es mucho trabajo.” (That is much work.) They replied, “Conozco, … blah blah blah.” I’m not being rude, just didn’t understand a word of it other than, “I know.” So I’ll spare you all my poor Spanish, but I asked them what they wanted. And they replied food and water.
Okay, easy enough. But then they tried to grab hold of my sugar scoop. Being out numbered four to one, I didn’t feel comfortable with that. So I asked them not to and they graciously complied. I tossed them a couple bottles of water and a new jar of peanuts and you would swear they just won the lottery. They were so happy. Their entire row to us was up wind, so they only had to stop paddling and they drifted right back to shore enjoying their peanuts the whole way. I’m sure they were harmless, but being from the states I usually assume the worst first. It’s unfortunate but I can’t shake it. The others returned after visiting the closest town, Uribia, where an indigenous tribe lives. It sounded fantastic, but I can’t share it since I wasn’t there. The wind never did pick up, so still no kiteboarding. It was time to move on in the morning. Next stop, Santa Marta, Colombia.