Cape Verde with Jana Rusnaková

We had a chance to chat with the lovely and sympathetic Jana, who moved to Cape Verde from Slovakia and now feels part of the Cape Verdean community. Let us tell you about Cape Verde first hand and be sure to stop by and see Jana when you visit Boa Vista. She will be happy to show you the beauty of the island.

 

You’ve been living in Cape Verde for a long time. When did you move there and what was it about Cape Verde that so captivated you that you decided to move there instead of the other destinations you had visited?

I first visited Cape Verde in February 2017 on the island of Sal. It was a completely unplanned holiday and a very sudden decision. The main reason, or rather such a search for myself, was after the loss of my father, I was longing for inner peace, somewhere exotic, sunny, peaceful, without the hustle and bustle, far away in a beautiful environment where people don’t stop smiling to live more freely. My friend Melinda was working on the island of Sal at the time as a musician in a well-known hotel, and she basically pulled me into this paradise, and the rest was done by the place itself with its amazing energy.

From my first visit the feelings were clear. Great enthusiasm, joy, curiosity, an inner voice whispered to stay here, my soul began to smile more, my mind opened more, my heart felt more, my eyes sparkled more and I knew I wanted to come back. 2 visits to Sal Island and finally a visit to Boa Vista in October of that year were like balm to my soul. From the Mediterranean life in Greece, Italy and Serbia, rather than travelling around European seaside towns, I was more inclined towards countries with better climates and open minds.

It was all about exploring a completely new culture, people and customs, and I’ve gone from one experience to the next. You really never get bored in Cape Verde, the environment and the people draw you into the action of their daily lives. After a few days I had the feeling that somehow I belonged here, that this was the place where I could finally drop anchor, and that is how it happened. I caught my entrepreneurial spirit in this place and after 3 weeks I left all my summer stuff, arranged to rent an apartment in advance and decided to move out of Europe. People tell me I’m crazy, or more politely, brave 😊.

 

Which islands of the archipelago should I not miss on my first visit?

Honestly? All of them (laughs) Each island offers something different, something special. Because they are not very well known to many people and the CKs only offer the islands of Sal and Boa Vista in the form of an all-inclusive stay, so people choose that option for the first time. They shouldn’t miss my one, of course, which is Boa Vista in my version or my team’s version.  I also have to say that for some people, Boa Vista has become a repeat destination for 15 years or more, or at least 3 times a year. Since my early days of travelling, I’ve practised actually working out an itinerary and leaving a lot of things to be solved on the fly and spontaneously, whatever the day brings. That’s the best you can do, certainly without expectations. That way you can learn more about the possibilities of visiting the others on your first visit, but the first ones are definitely Boa Vista and Sal, the latter being a bit more commercial but still offering its own beauty and nooks and crannies.

What many people don’t know is that there are other islands that can be reached directly from Europe and that are very popular, such as São Vicente for Carnival and the cultural centre of Mindelo’s capital, Santo Antão, which is only an hour away by boat and famous for its hiking trails, Mountains, banana, mango and sugar cane plantations with black volcanic sand green as far as the eye can see, Santiago with its capital Praia and again on the other side of the island as Tarafal Asomada Siera Malageta and hiking, Fogo where there is a volcano and climbing it and the energy are an experience of a lifetime. … Brava, Maio, São Nicolau, all these islands have been working for many years with very intense, different tourism, without all inclusive resorts, but staying right in the heart of the action, where I still say this is how you experience the real Cape Verde. Accommodation is available on all the islands and you would not believe the range of accommodation being built. From fully equipped apartments to smaller hotels, hostels and incredibly comfortable houses.

 

 

 

Why did you choose Boa Vista out of all the islands in the archipelago to move to? What attracted you to the island? 

For its authenticity, beautiful nature, views that you will never get tired of and its small, friendly community.  I found a complete peace that you can feel just a few hours after arriving on the island or just looking out of the plane at the beauty of the Atlantic Ocean. The weather is one of the main deciding factors and we have really excellent weather here all year round. The availability of great beaches, especially the quiet Estoril Bay where we spend a lot of time, and of course the great local cuisine.

Also because of the incredible tranquillity and the variety of activities both for relaxation and fun water sports and places I have explored on the island. Somehow I couldn’t get away from the magic of the sea, its azure colours and the sound of the waves. It was as if my eyes didn’t want to see anything else but the contrast of the blue sand and the smiling faces of the locals. I realised that I was the only Slovakian on the island, and it was a bit of a challenge to try something new and realise my business ideas from the very beginning.

So, what places should be on the itinerary of anyone visiting your beloved Boa Vista?

First and foremost, the town of Sal Rei, with its quiet Estoril town beach and the opposite islet of Djeu, with its beautiful coral coves for snorkelling, ideal fishing, sports centres and beach bars. Here you can get to know and enjoy the true Cape Verdean atmosphere, the local community, the cuisine, the culture, the way of life and the bars with live music.

Among the most popular you can’t miss Plaz Santa Monica, which is fascinating and really has a thousand faces, Praia de Varandinha, a natural cave with a cliff and breathtaking views, coves like Turtle and Shark, riding on the dunes on a mountain of sand – Morro D Areia. Chaves beach, Church of Fatima. The wreck of the ship Cabo Santa Maria, the desert inland Deserto de Viana, the town of Rabil with its ceramic workshops, the unique Route 66 villages inland and the eastern part where we have the Turtle Nature Reserve, the Baobab tree, the oasis of Ervatao, the dried salt lake of Cural velho, the beach of Lacacao and the places are really enough to see by the fact that Boa Vista is the 3rd largest island.

How many days of my holiday should I allow for travelling around your island, and how many days if I want to explore the other islands of Cape Verde?

If you want to relax as well as explore, you need at least 10 to 14 days. I say this because people who come for 7 days always tell me that they don’t really want to relax and that they would like to do more excursions and activities, walks to get to know the country and the culture better. However, most of my clients come for 7 days and those who have been here have learnt their lesson and come back for 14 days. Individual travellers staying in the city and apartments stay for a couple of weeks. If you’re going to other islands then definitely at least 3 weeks, so it’s ideal for max 3 islands and to move around and explore.

 

What is the best way to get around Cape Verde? Do you recommend a boat or a small plane?

If you decide to come to Cape Verde for a longer stay and sightseeing, I recommend combining the two, as some islands can only be reached by boat. For example from Santiago to Maio Island.  Before that, I would choose to fly from Boa Vista to Santiago Island or São Vicente with Caboverde Airlines. Someone more adventurous might opt for a long cruise, which is an Atlantic Ocean experience and a cheaper option via CV Interilhas, where you can buy boat tickets.  It’s a 2.5-hour boat ride from Boa Vista to Sal for around 25 euros, and a one-way ticket back will set you back 64 euros. However, be prepared to leave on Tuesday night and fly back on Thursday, which means you can’t visit the island in one day and return immediately, and I don’t recommend it in terms of the quality of the trip.

I recommend everyone to prepare all these itineraries in advance before departure, also tickets may not be available, for example when there is a carnival in São Vicente from Boa Vista several people went by boat and many had blocked tickets 2, 3 months in advance. You also have to take into account the unreliability of transport due to weather or delays, which brings me back to spontaneity..

 

And how best to organise it from the Czech Republic?

At the moment, the ideal is to fly from Prague to Paris, for example, and from there to São Vicente and start your stay in Mindelo.  After a few days, you can take a boat to Santo Antão and then work out your programme on the spot. I recommend at least 10, 12 days just for these 2 islands. Cabo Verde airlines, according to the months of the year, still the search engine will give you other options.

For those who want to fly to Boa Vista and Sal from Prague often move to Munich, Amsterdam, Brussels, London, Vienna, where the tickets themselves are ahead through various airlines online and very often I follow it myself. Also, the possibility also via Smartwings if you contact Czech CK for example I have a good experience also like this for separate tickets as well as for all-inclusive stays on sale and Boa Vista.

Personally, I choose Tap Portugal Vienna Lisbon with transfer and then Lisbon Boa Vista or Praia.  This is kind of my next challenge to do sightseeing tours in the future, but sometimes it’s complicated with flights. But everything is possible if you want to.

 

What do you think I should see and do in Cape Verde to get to know this island nation, its culture and its people?

Sightseeing tours, especially with the right guide, local cuisine, a trip to see a giant petrel in the evening during the summer months, a boat trip to see a long-billed curlew, humpback whales that we have during the spring months. Try snorkelling and enjoy the sea as much as possible, also by taking water sports lessons, which are very famous. Experience fishing with the locals, even with barbecues, and try to immerse yourself in the daily life of a Cape Verdean in the main towns and villages. From cooking, to being invited to birthday parties, which are really fantastic, to attending the city’s school festivals and carnivals and their performances. To visit the museums of the Cape Verdean history, which is very rich, their dances, musical genres, live music and singing, to visit local exhibitions of their established crafts and handicrafts, where you can see their skill and immense talent.

 

You have been running your own tour company in Cape Verde for several years. What is the cost of living here and how easy is it to start a business?

Yes, right from the beginning, when I started taking pictures to get to know this beautiful island, I started guiding and today I am involved in several enjoyable activities, the aim of which is to support the local community and thus generate income for local families. For water activities and sports I work with my husband, as he is a native of Boa Vistan, there is maximum trust in his knowledge and services. I also have long-standing external contractors for other in-demand activities and am involved in charity work. I see my profession more as a great mission where both parties are happy. Me and the client.

A few years ago, when I started my business, I did the official stuff very quickly NIF (Tax Identification Number), account, company name, 3 different names I remember having to put in, from which the system picked one NA BOA TOUR, which translates to GOOD WITH US. After that, I already had an accountant and started to choose my team. The rent was then and is now around 400 euros a month plus expenses, depending on what you consume and what you use, but it’s definitely a good place to live without a lot of expenses. In everyday life you don’t spend that much because you don’t really have it anywhere. For example, we don’t have a TV, we have the nicest one outside where we spend most of our time in the field. The supermarkets have recently reached European price levels for some products (a big import by boat is from Spain and Portugal), but you don’t spend much on the local fish staples that are available on the islands.  Also you will find a lot of options in dining and daily tasty menus from 4 euros for a great lunch.I admit that Cape Verde by being a third country and completely different from our materially based Europe so it is not for everyone’s stomach and many people do not last here. It is hard to get used to different conditions outside the usual comfort, I am a very adaptable person under any conditions I see a clear vision and you have to be patient.

 

What do I need to do if I want to move to Cape Verde?

It is essential to arrange your NIF (tax ID) on arrival in Cape Verde and plan to open a business or company.  Many people have work contracts from employers in Europe and work onl

ine. They only need a translated work contract to extend their stay in Cape Verde, a local work contract and a few other documents which are dealt with directly by the police. For the first month after paying the 31-euro entry fee, you can only stay with this document.  Once this is done, ideally if you are investing in property, you will have the right to apply for residency, which is great, and usually the property company will help with this. It’s up to each individual what their ideas and plans are, whether it’s a work visa first and then a residency application.

I took the legal route from the start, setting up a company, personal and company bank accounts, a lease and then applying for a tourist visa extension and residency. As I am married to a Cape Verdean, I am entitled to residency anyway.  Don’t forget to take out travel insurance, either by keeping it in your home country or changing it completely and only paying for health insurance in Cape Verde.

 

You have been living in Cape Verde for more than 5 years. Where do you think you will be living in another 5 years?

I have lived here for over 6 years and this is my seventh.  I believe and feel that I am exactly the right person, as they say, in the right place and I definitely plan to stay here. These islands and especially Boa Vista have completely captured my heart and once you have experienced the real Cape Verde in the right way, you will always want to come back. I have given my son the most wonderful childhood and as a mother I am proud of the beautiful, healthy environment and exercise he is growing up in.

 

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