Cape Verde is a country consisting of a group of about 10 islands 300 miles West of Senegal. Boa Vista is one of the less developed islands in the archipelago, but since 2007, when the runway was made large enough to take large passenger jets, a tourist industry has boomed on the island.
Nearly all the tourists stay in the 5 large all-inclusive international hotels, which means all their needs are catered for within the hotel and they have no need to visit Sal Rei, the only significant town on the island. This is problematic as people in town are seeking to make an income from the tourists, selling crafts and restaurant services, and yet despite the fact they see 1000’s of people arriving each week in jets passing overhead, only a tiny trickle come into town. A trader told me he had not had any customer come into his shop for 4 days and he did not know how he was going to pay his rent. Another told me of a pattern of restaurants which had opened, but without sufficient customers the food went bad and they went out of business. The result of this is traders who are hungry for business: tourists who do venture into town find the traders’ efforts to entice their custom an overwhelming nuisance or hassle, dissuading them from staying for long or encouraging others to come. This is a real shame as the Boavistans are friendly people and their shops have some nice crafts and souvenirs.
I had 3 nights in March staying in the Riu Karamboa Hotel on Boa Vista, just one week after completing the Easterhouse Wrap Exhibition. From Riu Karamboa Hotel on Boa Vista in the Cape Verde Islands it is 8.5kms (according to Google maps)to walk into Sal Rei, the main town.
Not far in terms of metric distance, but a very long way apart in all other respects. Knowing that the wool I had collected from Easterhouse was in the vicinity of eight to ten kilometres long, I wondered if it would stretch across this divide. In Easterhouse the line wool was used to define a border, but here it could bridge a gulf between two communities, and make a poetic connection.
I walked the distance, unrolling the ball of wool retrieved from Easterhouse in one continous unbroken line. It reached into the town square and 100m beyond, and the last section of the journy local children finished the task for me
The following day I collected all the wool back up, apart from the last few hundred metres which had already been turned into necklaces and bracelets!