How to send a parcel to Cape Verde
|1. Don't use DHL.|
2. Don't use UPS either (they couldn't even get as far as the Canaries!).
3. Learn some creole, at the very least some portuguese.
4. Appoint a good despatching agent (plenty to be found at the harbours), if in doubt ask the head of customs to recommend one.
5. Make sure you have a boat stamp.
6. Wear walking shoes.
7. Take plenty of change for buses, taxis and coffee.
8. Keep smiling.
9. Enjoy your D-Day! when you finally get your parcel, you'll feel like all your birthdays have come at once!
DHL promised they could deliver a parcel to Cape Verde within 4-5 days so we went ahead and ordered a new dinghy from the UK. Two weeks later we still hadn’t received the parcel, DHL thought the parcel might be at Mindelo airport but they couldn’t tell us how to get hold of the accompanying documents to clear customs. Eventually the marina office suggested we should go to the airport ourselves. This is what happened.
4th March - Our D-Day
Left Caramor at 8am for Mindelo airport.
Cargo section: given a bundle of papers, told to go to Customs in main airport.
Customs: in creole told that we need to speak to someone else first. An address in Mindelo is written for us, someone called Sylvestre.
Taxi to Mindelo address.
Sylvestre Pinto Lopes Da Silva is a "Despatching Agent", he takes our forms and appoints someone to look after us.
We are taken to Mindelo Registry Office, Franco is issued with a NIF (Financial Identification Number for Cape Verde).
We return to Mindelo Marina to have the papers stamped by the marina (parcel was addressed to Franco, yacht Caramor at Mindelo Marina).
10 am, our minder tells us to report back at Sylvestre's office for 12 noon. Meanwhile he will fill in the necessary forms and go to the airport.
12 noon, Sylvestre's office, our minder hasn't returned from the airport yet, we wait 40 minutes.
Our minder returns from the airport with the forms, we pay $9,300 (approx. 90 Euros) which includes $5,860 import taxes, $350 export tax (out of C.V.) the remainder is Sylvestre's fee (not using a despatching agent didn't seem to be an option). We are told to go to the Fiscal Police office in the harbour, find a police officer, take him to the airport, pick up the parcel and he will see us back to Caramor to ensure we have re-exported the parcel.
We go to the Fiscal Police office, it is 1:30 and only one officer is on duty.
On our way we discovered this beautiful beach, we returned later for a celebratory swim
We return at 2pm. The officer is already at the airport, we will need to bring him back with us.
Back at Customs at the airport, told to go to 'Arrivals'.
At 'Arrivals', no parcel, told to go to Cargo section.
At Cargo section, found the police officer and the parcel.
Took taxi to Marina.
We loaded the parcel into our dinghy and our police officer decided (wisely) that the paperwork could be completed on the pontoon and that he would watch us row out to Caramor in the anchorage.
Final document stamped with our boat stamp (essential) and signed by Franco. Wave goodbye to our friendly officer. It is now 4:30 pm.
Everybody we met was friendly, helpful and made sure we knew what the next step entailed. Although the procedure was crazy we had an enjoyable day and eventually got the parcel! Success.
Arnie arriving in a box
Mindelo is more affluent and urban than Palmeira or Tarrafal, although all Cape Verdeans look stylish, here people are less particular about their appearance and less effort goes into fancy hair plaiting, work is more sedentary and many jog to stay fit. I guess it isn't much different to comparing Dolgellau (where no farmer in his right mind would climb Cader Idris) with Liverpool.
A middle class is developing and differences in wealth are more visible, there are people begging on the street (from locals and tourists) while others have no shoes. Many of the shops and bars are owned by foreigners, a small café/restaurant that we like is owned by an Angolan.
We have been in Mindelo for two weeks now and as Franco puts it “It’s been an education”. We will sail tomorrow, past Brava (we aren’t allowed to stop) ;-) ;-) and then on towards Salvador, Brazil.