Cha De Igreja, Santo Antao Report of what it's like to live there - 09/29/10
Personal Experiences from Cha De Igreja, Santo Antao
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?
Austin, TX.From Austin, it's 3 taxis, 3 planes, a boat and then a bus to get to Cha de Igreja. About 2 days total.
3. How long have you lived here?
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
All expat housing is amazing. I was in the Peace Corps and I had the biggest house in town.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
More expensive in the US since everything arrives on Santo Antao by boat.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Kites, books, snorkeling gear.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?
6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
GIANT biting centipedes and some huge leathery spiders.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
Correios de Cabo Verde. They're terrible and expensive. One of every four packages I was sent from the States never made it.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Widely available, very cheap. (US$5 - 10 a week)
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Maybe in Praia.
4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
BCA has ATMs that will accept US (VISA) credit cards.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?
MSNBC on the pay cable stations.
7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
VERY little English spoken in Cha de Igreja. Broken English is spoken by many hotel employees.
8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Local "hiaces" operate between the towns and villages. Fairly reasonable rates. Very crowded.
2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?
4WD is only necessary to reach the more remote villages of the island, and only during rainy season.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes. VERY EXPENSIVE. US$60-70/month for very slow, unreliable connections.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Cell reception on the island is nearly 100%
1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?
2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?
Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:
1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?
If you speak English, you can get a job teaching anywhere. Or working as a tour guide.
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
VERY casual. Shorts and flip flops. Teachers and other professionals will wear jeans...that's about as formal as it gets.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Pickpocketing in Mindelo. Praia is much worse.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
None. Decent hospital and dentist in Mindelo...Santo Antao...not so much.
3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?
Generally great. But in the late summer months the "bruma seca" blows in...dust and sand everywhere...often grounding the few flights to and from the islands.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Generally hot and dry...in a good way. The rainy season gets humid and the nights are often muggy.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
Maybe one French run school in Praia.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Lots of French and Germans, no Americans except for Peace Corps.
2. Morale among expats:
3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
Town "festas" in the summer are OUTRAGEOUS.
4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
It's good for anyone. Really good.
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
Totally acceptable in Mindleo...on Santo Antao not so much.
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
It's definitely a "machismo" society. Women in Cape Verde are treated like cattle.
7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Learning the language (kriolu), getting to know the people of Cape Verde.
8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Hiking, fishing, sailing, beaches, photography. It's perfect for anyone who loves the outdoors. And the people are BEAUTIFUL.
9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Scenery, hiking, desolate gorgeous beaches.
11. Can you save money?
Not as a Peace Corps volunteer. Pretty expensive by African standards.
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Cold-weather clothes and any inhibitions.
3. But don't forget your:
Shades and your best dance moves. Cape Verdians LOVE to dance.
4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:
Cesaria Evora music.
6. Do you have any other comments?
Go here if you can. You'll be glad you did.