Every week I talk to Belgians who moved abroad and started a new life there. This week Wim and Hilde tell us about moving to Cabo Verde.
1. Hi, Wim and Hilde! Please quickly introduce yourselves. Tell us who you are, where you’re from, where you moved to and when/why you moved.
We’re Wim and Hilde van Gelder. Wim is originally from Wevelgem, where he worked as a baker. Afterwars he moved to Bissegem, where he owned a fruit store, and after that he ran the then famous Café de Rembrandt in Heule.
I (Hilde) am from Heule. I take care of children and used to run a daycare called ‘t Warandetreintje. After that, I worked as a nurse at the Sisters of Love until the new law for caretakers was approved. I then worked as a caretaker for a couple more years in a school in Heule.
Wim has a son, Jens, and I have three children, Jens, Silke and Gilles. We’re very proud of them. We don’t have children together.
I met Wim in 2008 and it was already his dream then to move abroad.
2. Why did you move to Cabo Verde?
A friend of ours sometimes sails from one island to the other and used to mention the Cabo Verde Islands. We’d never heard of them. On our first trip, we stayed at Sal for 14 days. It’s a beautiful island for people who like the sun, the sea and the beach.
However, after a couple of days, we’d already seen all of it. We booked a flight to São Vincente, which was too crowded for us, and then took the ferry to the island of Santo Antão. Wim immediately said that he could live there, but I wasn’t thinking about that yet after only having spent two days there.
Our next vacation we spent 14 days at the island and it was then that we bumped into a guesthouse for sale; Our dream started growing and we researched if we could accomplish it. We took a decision and quickly came back to Santo Antão.
3. What’s the biggest difference between life in San Antão and life in Belgium?
The people here are very friendly. In Ponta del Sol, where we live, everybody knows everybody.
The people here are also happy with little. There’s no stress. Europeans have money, people from Cabo Verde have time. Most people here don’t need much to be happy.
4. What’s the biggest cultural difference or the biggest difference in mentality between the people?
Everybody helps each other. Really, people here are so friendly. Also, nobody takes advantage of others here. Everybody needs to work to live. If you don’t work, you don’t eat and no money comes in. But people do live day to day here. Some of them go fishing every day.
People here also live in small houses with huge families. It’s incredible!
Young girls become mothers soon, but that’s improving now. Some of them also want to go to school and know things can be different.
5. What’s the best part about living in Santo Antão?
The tranquility, the sea and the mountains around us. Also working with tourists, social life here, working with people and explaining things.
6. What do you miss most about Belgium?
The children. Luckily there’s skype, otherwise I wouldn’t have made the move.
And although lately there are more products available than before, I also miss the different cheeses, bistro and, of course, the Belgian chocolate. Our friends do bring that when they come to visit.
7. Is there something about Belgium that you don’t miss at all?
The political circumstances. We don’t bother with those over here. The gasboetes and so on; those are just ridiculous (note from Sofie: those are sanctions a city or town can impose on those that break the rules of the city. It’s an instrument that allows cities to deal with public hassle, but it’s been under a lot of criticism from the start). At Santo Antão we also don’t have speed controls or exaggerated police controls.
Besides that, people here live differently. They’re always happy, even though they don’t own a lot. They don’t get money from the state when they have kids or are unemployed. If they don’t have money, they go fishing to support their families.
8. Do you think you’ll stay in Cabo Verde? Or is there a chance you’ll move again someday?
Yes, we’re very happy here and the kids and family come here on vacation from time to time. We ourselves go to Belgium once a year, even though Wim doesn’t find that necessary.
9. Do you have any tips or advice for other Belgians who consider moving to Berlin?
You just have to be able to do it. It’s not for everyone.
It’s adventurous and Santo Antão is beautifully located. It’s one of the most beautiful islands of Cabo Verde.
People who like to hike or go canyoning should come here to do that at least once in their lives.
If you want to know more, feel free to contact me at [email protected] or through our site www.caboverdedreamtravel.com
Are you a Belgian who moved abroad, or do you know someone who is? I’m always looking for new Belgian Expats to talk to. Check out the X-pat Files for more information on who exactly I’m looking for and drop me a line!