Today marks three months to the passing of Mum and I feel there’s no better way of honouring my beautiful mother than writing this…
I’ve just returned from a trip to Cape Verde where I planned to do nothing but escape reality. The country has little to offer in the way of sightseeing, shopping or night life (which is what my holidays usually consist of!) but after the worst few months of my life I just wanted to go somewhere to unwind with the sea, sun and sand. Little did I know I’d get so much more.
Cape Verde is a poor country which is still relatively young to tourism. I went to the island of Boa Vista, which has three hotel resorts and vast desert land. The airport has one runway and it took us all but an hour to check out the shops in the capital, Sal Rei. That should paint a picture of how different it is to England.
But the biggest and most unique difference is the attitude of the people. Wherever you go, no matter what time of day or what age of the person; you are greeted by genuine, big, infectious smiles. Locals have so little, yet they are so happy and content.
Wherever we went we heard the Swahili saying “hakuna matata”, which roughly translates as “no worries”. For us Westerners; the Cape Verdians say “no stress” – and that’s because they know what kind of a lifestyle we lead.
I spoke to many people who worked in our resort or as entertainers in bars and restaurants. Some had come from even worse poverty struck nations like Senegal. And when asked if they’d like to come to England, every single person shook their head. They responded by saying they’d heard how busy and stressful life was in England so they’re much happier with the life they have here.
And a side-effect of this stress-free life? The sheer energy of these people and how youthful they look. It’s difficult to put an age to people because their skin looks fantastic and hardly anybody had greys (which I got aged 25!) Dance and music means everything to them and once you hear Funana you can’t help but move. The stamina and excitement with which they dance is spellbinding and inspires you to momentarily be tranced into worry-free, simple happiness.
I went to forget everything but I discovered one of the biggest beauties of life that we overlook in our fast paced world. Happiness is a state of mind. Nobody has everything they want but by focusing on what you want, you lose value of what you are lucky enough to have. Cape Verdians put into perspective that even with very little – health and happiness is ultimate wealth. Eventually, we’re all going one day and we take nothing, its all material. So to make it a worthy life, we need to make beautiful memories and share infectious smiles that could brighten others’ lives without us even realising it.
Hakuna matata…because life is far too short and there is much more to celebrate than stress over.