This wasn't the regular type of tour offered by many, but one I thought you may be interested in. The tour included a visit to Sal island prison and Alto Santa Cruz. But firstly we had to be informed what this type of tour involved and about some of the items we could or shouldn't take.
A different type of tour - Sal Island
Collection time was 11a.m.by pick-up truck, then on to collect others before heading to Espargos. A number of people sat on the back of the pick-up. All those on the trip could speak English so from my perspective that was good. The others on tour were Swedish and Dutch.
Mozer Lima, local streetwear designer
First stop was to the atelier/shop of Mozer Lima who speaks English. Mozer designs and makes clothing such as jackets which can be worn both inside and outside, showing one plain coloured material on one side or, when turned inside out it has a multi coloured design. Noy delivered a donated bag of material to Mozer to keep and use to make clothing items. He also makes baseball type hats with matching coloured jackets. You don’t need to buy anything or you can buy a hat or a jacket, without having to by both matching items.
For more direct info or requests, contact him on Instagram: majorlanse_official or on Facebook: Mozer Lima (Major lanse).
We needed to arrive at the prison at noon. Noy introduced everyone as we entered, then we walked straight into the reception area where the shop was situated. We'd been pre-informed we needed to take an ID with us to show the guards on entry. We were also told that other than our ID and some money in case we wanted to buy items in the prison shop, all other items could not be taken into the prison, other than donations which would be searched thoroughly.
The person who normally works in the shop that spoke English was not there on the day. Another inmate was there instead. We were allowed to ask some questions to the prisoner who was selling items of art. He didn’t’t speak English, so questions were asked in Creole and translated back to us English and Dutch. The inmate was supervised while we were there. All the products in the shop are handmade by both male and female prisoners and for sale at a very affordable price. Some of us chose items that we wanted to buy from the shop. We did not go into the inner areas where prisoners were kept.
After this we were escorted to the security and locker cabin where we paid the guard for the items we had each chosen from the gift shop. We made sure we all checked we’d been given back our ID’s before being escorted out of the prison gate.
I’d been informed that we could donate items, everything is welcome! Most needed items are: toothpaste and toothbrushes, clothes, books (Portuguese, English, Spanish) hygienic products and toiletries, shoes, magazines (pictures can be cut out for decoration), art material and craft items, clean pots and cans (perishable food containers emptied and washed out) which they can make art out of.
For both men and women: The prison does not need donations of swimwear or children clothes. Items donated would first go to the more needy prisoners and those that did not receive assistance from friends and family visitors.
The items we donated on this visit today were: old sandals, flip flops, shoes, some men’s and women clothes, empty jars and glass bottles for recycled arts, sewing items, a bag of damaged soaps donated by a shop owner, 40 tubes of toothpastes and other toiletries. More is always welcome: medication like paracetamol and such, soccer balls, basket balls, or any other positive time-driving games, pens, paper, books, clothes, shoes, zips (for purses and handbags), poppers, hooks and eyes, sewing items, buttons, jewelry making kit.
Other items that can be donated to Noy for next visit with tourists will include: dvd’s that can be used for jewelry/art making, jigsaw puzzles, packs of playing cards, English books, Portuguese books, easy to follow art & craft other books (Portuguese, English, Spanish), items to make jewelry.
Creole for everybody: English/Creole (if someone wants to buy and donate some of these?)
Alto Santa Cruz
In Alto Santa Cruz, the biggest Shanty town of Sal, we were given a walking tour from Xiixël (pronunciation seashell), who lives with his cat Kiki in the Shanty town.
We could ask Xiixël anything we wanted, he showed us around and told us about his life. He took us into his home, a hand built simple structure. Xiixël now works as a photographer, after he was given a camera, which he keeps safely at his friend’s house in Espargos. He would like to move into the Social Housing that has been built next to the Shanty town. As you can see in the photo below, they are now building paths and roads to the social housing.
It would be safer and less noisy living in one of the social apartment, as the hand built structures that are homes of those that live in the shanty town, are situated under the flight path. The tin or wooden roofs of the homes in the shanty town don’t protect people from the noise of the planes which take off over and fly over the shanty town.
Xiixël said he would have access to water and electricity in the Social Housing. Whereas now, he and others living in the shanty town have to buy water from the fontenário (place where you can buy water) and in the evening they have power coming from the only generator for the whole shanty town. In the shanty town there is a bar, disco, shops and a lot of houses.
See how big Alto Santa Cruz is: VIDEO-ALTO-SANTA-CRUZ
After the walking tour we were taken by truck to have a simple and enjoyable lunches at a local restaurant, a variety of local dishes were served at our table.
At the end of our meal we evaluated the trip. I for one found it interesting to have an insight into what happened at the prison and, hear and see what life was like in Alto Santa Cruz.
We then all headed back into Santa Maria.
Questions put to Noy:
Question: Are half empty shampoo bottles, half empty liquid soap, half empty sun lotion bottles etc. able to reach the prisoners?
Ans: Yes, half is fine :-) . Sun lotion I would give to the people of Alto Santa Cruz. They actually need all the things prisoners need too, including swimwear and children’s clothes :-)
Question: I was told there was no electric supply to the Prison and that generator does not always work, is that why there was no lighting in the Prison shop?
Ans: There is a generator yes, works in the evening when there is no daylight, same as for the shanty town and others who depend on generators … mostly only evening usage.
Question: Would solar lighting, or battery lights be useful for the prison and shanty town?
Ans: Yes please! Any type of solar-anything is welcome please!
We were also able to ask the guard some questions guard about the prison and activities.
It didn’t seem that the women participated in much activity or sport where as the men enjoyed playing football or volleyball (when they had the equipment).
Question: Not sure about how the plants get watered?
Ans: The prisoners water them, plant them, they basically run that whole place :-)
A part of the profit (if there is a profit when booked for regular price) will go to Noy’s CSD-Foundation that stands for Co-creative Social Design. She tries to get funding in order to increase sustainable tourism, education and support local entrepreneurship. Want to know more about her work?
Get in contact on:
Facebook/Messenger: Noy Singer.
Also: The CSD-Foundation has a Facebook page: CSD-Foundation.