Cape Verde was a place we’d looked at in the brochures as a potential holiday, but for the past couple of years it had been relegated to second choice. Our plans for Peru had been put on hold and the Kenya safari holiday was no longer in the equation due to the civil disturbance in that country. I’d been working almost full time for a couple of months (a shock to the system after retirement and then a gentle two days a week consultancy) and so we opted for the Cape Verde Islands.
You need a visa to enter the islands but fortunately that seemed fairly easy to sort with the travel agents (I managed to get a better deal with my local travel agents than I could secure on the internet) making an electronic application on my behalf. Although somewhat bizarrely I never had physical sight of a visa – apparently they electronically match your travel details and passport and check off the details on arrival. Let’s hope, I thought to myself, that’s it’s as trouble free as they suggest!
Our next problem related to currency. You’re unable to purchase Cape Verde cash before arriving on the island (nor can you bring any off the island). Now everywhere that we’ve been to date, boasts an availability of ATM machines and a wide use of Mastercard or Visa. Cape Verde did not. Indeed everything we read indicated that you could use credit cards in very few places and that there was a dearth of ATM’s. The suggestion was that there was a single ATM on Sal and I got a half impression that it should not be relied on.
So for the first time in over 20 years we were going to be reliant on traveller’s cheques. No problem, me thinks! But nothing is straightforward and wherever we go, who ever we speak with or whatever we read we gain a different impression of the best currency cheques to carry. Euros are best according to a couple of web sites, but our travel agents recommend US dollars. And then the bank believes that Sterling is preferred. We check in a specialist travel book that we have and here the strong recommendation is sterling. I return to our travel agents who check it out again and they confirm that their advice is US dollars are preferred but sterling is equally acceptable. My mind is made up it’s going to be sterling. Much easier as there’s only one conversion required!
The usual decisions had to be made about travel but as there are no local flights it meant a flight out of Gatwick – a fair drive from Nottingham but an airport that we’d flown out of before. We were flying out early and getting back late so we decided to book two overnight stays at a Gatwick Hotel and accept the cheaper parking deal that went with it. Indeed courtesy of some old air miles that we’d been sitting on for several years we managed to secure the room at no cost. Now that’s what I call a celebratory rate!