I know, it has been a while. I apologise. I also know that I have promised a rant about the downsides of living here in Cape Verde but the weather was too wonderful today to find anything bad to say. Instead I am going to make you all a bit more jealous of my life here. How nice am I?
Well, granted, if you hate kids you will most likely not be very impressed. Because one of the big advantages of living here is how much children are appreciated, loved and taken care of.
We had noticed before, while traveling with the then-1 1/2 and 2 1/2 year-old Little Monster, how friendly and openly child-loving the locals here are. A lot of folks would smile at us, chat with us (or our offspring), they would tickle the little man, try to entertain him and generally be super welcoming. Even teenage boys who, in our latitudes, wouldn’t look at a toddler if their life depended on it, would pinch his cheeks or ask for his name and nod general approval.
Moving here with the new baby 18 months ago, I was sometimes wondering if we were doing the right thing. You know, developing country, hygiene, medical standards etc. All my worries have been disspelled since though as the health care system here is taking very good care of the little ones. Yes, we are in the fortunate position of being able to afford private medical care but even for those who can’t, health care is cheap, immunisations are free and doctors of all specialist areas (including dentists) will go around the local kindergartens and schools offering free consultations at least once a year.
And as to hygiene, well, truth be told I think that a little more dirt ingestion can go a long way toward preventing nasty allergies. Even the tap water here is drinkable, provided you have a filter system installed which will also relieve you from having to haul water from the shops and producing ever more plastic rubbish.
Having two little ones now, we are often engaged in conversations by the local people who want to know their names and ages, whether they go to kindergarten here, speak the local language Crioul and all kinds of other information. With the Little Monster being 5 years old, it is rather interesting that most people will ask him directly about himself and his brother, showing respect toward this little person and his opinions. A lot of people living in our area recognise our children and actually identify us (you know, random white people of which there are a lot around) by the fact that we are their parents.
When the Little Monkey (a.k.a. #2) was pre-walking and we’d all go to a restaurant, someone of the staff would for sure pick him up from his pram and bounce and entertain him so that we got to enjoy our meals and could pay some attention to the older one. And other patrons would generally enjoy the sight instead of getting annoyed because the waitress had some fun at work. Just one more sign of the wonderfully laid-back general attitude of the people here.
If I have to go to the bank, I am awarded priority service with a little child (also true for disabled and pregnant customers). At first I didn’t know that, so people who had been waiting in line for sometimes substantial amounts of time would motion me to go ahead, and no-one ever gave me the evil eye for cutting the line. I feel so bad about this that I will now go to the bank on my own if at all possible.
In this country, where unemployment is rather high and many people can’t afford child care, people tend to take their children everywhere. It is just normal to bring your kid to work on a Saturday (when the kindergarten is closed) or have the baby on your lap when sitting with your lawyer or accountant. Children are simply everywhere which makes it heaven for expat parents.
Do you remember how it was when we grew up? We would spend considerable chunks of time outside in any weather, playing with our friends, without our parents knowing where exactly we were and what exactly we were doing. Living in Cape Verde is like this. A blast from the past. I simply tell the Little Monster when he has to be at home and off he scoots, getting up to all kinds of nonsense which I don’t want to – and don’t have to – be privy to. No stranger danger, no sue-happy folks when kids are accidentally overstepping – parents’ paradise.
Then there is of course the aspect of the location. The weather here is 99.9% outdoorsy, and when it rains it is actually so novel and exciting that the monsters want to be outside still. The beach and pool give them endless opportunities to frolick around and I am very much hoping that one day they will take up one or several of the numerous water sport activities available here. Plus, there are hardly any children’s programmes on TV anyway that could entice them to spend their time indoors. What more could a parent ask for?
Here is one last bit of information to convince you that I live in a parenting Utopia: 1st June is International Children’s Day. In Cape Verde, it is a public holiday, believe it or not. Anyone wanting to move here now?