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Praia - Cape Verde

2008- Praia City is the capital of Santiago and the capital city in Cape Verde. I was a bit apprehensive about going to Praia because I was told about how different it was to the other islands and to be careful. It was much busier. What a contrast to Santo Antao.

We didn't get as much hassle in Praia as in Mindelo (Sao Vicente) strangely enough. I was told that it may be because it has more Europeans and Business people living and working there, so perhaps that's why we weren't targeted as tourists (yet).

We did did a bit of shopping, mainly in the market area and the Loja Chinese, but we kept our wits about us and we were ok, we did stand out to be easy targets for higher prices for clothes though.

I would pass on a word of caution to anyone visiting Santiago as there were a few instances where we realised things may have turned out differently. One of which was when a friend went back to the hotel with some of our shopping, a young lad came over and offered assistance. She realised there was something wrong and held onto her purse and the bags. She paid the taxi driver and walked away from the boy and into the foyer of the hotel. She had noticed a car nearby with two youths in it who were looking over. One of three businessmen who had been watching the incident came over and warned her to be very careful, he explained that there are opportunists who will grab things out of open windows,doors and boots of cars etc. then pass them on to third parties who are near by.

I have visited Praia and Santiago three times. As a single woman out on her own in Praia I felt uneasy. There were a few incidents where I felt more than un-easy. However when in male company I didn't feel that way.

Shopping in Santiago - 2008

Its the main capital island of Cape Verde and has the highest population. They don't seem to have many good clothes shops that sell general clothing at reasonable costs, things like beds, cooking utensils and everything else all need importing. The prices in some local shops and supermarkets were a lot cheaper in Santiago than on Sal. We still believe there are two prices here, one for locals and one for tourists in some places where the goods aren’t priced.

One thing that most of the islands have are small Loja Chinese shops which sell odds and sods, really cheap and cheerful stuff that probably won’t last that long but compared to the prices that are asked in the few other shops that exist, they are the cheapest. Some also sell beds and other furniture as well as fixtures, fittings, creams etc again there is no sign that they are the real thing, not seconds or have any form of fire safety tags on mattresses etc for peace of mind. They do import and sell some clothes, but being as the Chinese are generally a nation of small petite people; the clothes sizes are generally small. A size XXL on one pair of trousers I tried on wouldn't even get up to my hips, in UK size it was more like a size12, others went up to a size 16 by our reckoning. The quality of the material with lycra is not always suitable in this heat. I and some others have managed to find a few things to fit, but you really have to search through everything. As well as generous size ladies clothes, a 100% cotton top is like finding gold dust.

I understand that the Chinese do well here because they don't have to pay any import taxes. I have realised that if it wasn't for these small Chinese Shops, some of the locals wouldn't be able to afford to buy anything, as everything is a lot more expensive than in UK. A lot of other local people couldn't even afford the cheap stuff.

Those that leave the islands for a vacation in Europe or the States usually do their shopping whilst away (mainly during the summer season abroad for clothes though). So that's why I say, bring what you can with you, then more.

For more information on Cape Verde refer to Bradt Travel book and under the General Information-Informative Websites on this website.

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