The rugged landscape of the island of Fogo came to my mind immediately in response to last week’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Spare by Krista Stevens. I related to the word as meaning sparse, however it can also mean 2) additional to what is required for ordinary use, 3) elegantly simple, or 4) to refrain from harming.
Although some areas are populated, farmed, or forested, much of Fogo, which is part of Cape Verde, an island nation off the west coast of Africa, is dry, rocky and barren.
Even so, people can be found dotting the most seemingly remote places… along… with… occasional… advertising.Notice the billboard for CVMóvel, a cell phone service provider, standing alone behind the two workers in the middle of acres of sparsely populated mountains. The placement of the sign, way out there, seemed impossibly optimistic.
Later in the day I got a closer shot of another lonely sign waiting for a viewer.This one sits on the edge of an area destroyed by the November 2014 eruption of the volcano, Pico do Fogo. A lunar landscape now stretches for miles. I imagine this sign was less lonely before the eruption when people traveled to and from the two towns that are now buried.
When my friend and I went to hike up Pico do Fogo in May of 2015, we were told that it was the first day that a path for vehicles into the area had been opened to the public. Our hired taxi was the only car making it’s way boldly out along the “road” which oftentimes was only two tire marks in volcanic ash. The provisions store, a box-like building of cement blocks, which marked the beginning of our guided hike, was being rebuilt and had cases of water, soda and snacks, but there was nothing else there. Portela and the neighboring town, Bangaeria, the vineyards and coffee crops, were buried. Everyone in those towns lost their homes. All industry was destroyed. The only things that were spared (here is another usage of that word) were things that could be loaded into vehicles or carried out in hand, in carts, or on livestock. I have read that the towns were evacuated before the eruption and no lives were lost, but I can only imagine that everyone’s life was shattered and changed. No one may have been killed, but it seems to me that lives were lost. These lonely signs make me wonder about the one-thousand to two-thousand people who were displaced. I encountered so many optimistic, welcoming, and friendly people in Cape Verde. I can only hope that there is hope for the people of Portela and Bangaeria.
I’ll end this post with another ad for CVMóvel that I found on Vimeo. I may be going out on a limb here because I don’t speak creole, but… judging by the music and smiles, I think this video shows the optimistic aspect of Cape Verde life that I also experienced.
Thanks for reading and looking 🙂