FAQs about Peace Corps in Cape Verde

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FAQs about Peace Corps
  • How much luggage am I allowed to bring?
  • What is the electric current?
  • How much money should I bring?
  • When can I take vacation and have people visit me?
  • Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
  • Do I need an international driver’s license?
  • What should I bring as gifts for my host family?
  • Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?
  • How can my family contact me in an emergency?
  • Can I call home?
  • Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
  • Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?
...and more...

For information see Welcomebooks

How much luggage will I be allowed to bring to Cape Verde?

Most airlines have baggage size and weight limits and assess charges for transport of baggage that exceeds this allowance. The Peace Corps has its own size and weight limitations, and will not pay the cost of transport for baggage that exceeds these limitations. The authorized baggage allowance is two checked pieces of luggage with combined dimensions of both pieces not to exceed 107 inches (length + width + height) and a carry-on bag with dimensions of no more than 45 inches. Checked baggage should not exceed 80 pounds total with a maximum weight allowance of 70 pounds for any one bag. DUE TO REGULAR CHANGES IN AIRLINE BAGGAGE LIMIT POLICIES IN RECENT YEARS, PLEASE VERIFY THIS INFORMATION PRIOR TO DEPARTURE.

Peace Corps Volunteers are not allowed to take pets, weapons, explosives, radio transmitters (shortwave radios are permitted), automobiles, or motorcycles to their overseas assignments. Do not pack flammable materials or liquids such as lighter fluid, cleaning solvents, hair spray, or aerosol containers. This is an important safety precaution.

What is the electric current in Cape Verde?

The electric current in Cape Verde is 220 volts. Some sites do not have electricity 24 hours a day, but only for part of the day, while others do not have electricity at all. There are surges and cuts, which put a strain on voltage converters and appliances, so bring good quality items. The Peace Corps does not provide transformers. Batteries are available here, but their quality is sometimes questionable.

How much money should I bring?

Volunteers are expected to live at the same level as the people in their community. They are given a settling-in allowance and a monthly living allowance, which should cover their expenses. Often Volunteers wish to bring additional money for vacation travel to other countries. For security purposes credit cards and traveler’s checks are preferable to cash. However, banks charge quite a large fee to cash traveler’s checks. If you choose to bring extra money, plan on bringing the amount that suits your own personal travel plans and needs.

When can I take vacation and have people visit me?

Each Volunteer accrues two vacation days per month of service (excluding training). Leave may not be taken during training, the first three months of service, or the last three months of service, except in conjunction with an authorized emergency leave. Family and friends are welcome to visit you after pre-service training and the first three months of service as long as their stay does not interfere with your work. Extended stays at your site are not encouraged and may require permission from the country director. The Peace Corps cannot provide your visitors with visa or travel assistance.

Will my belongings be covered by insurance?

The Peace Corps does not provide insurance coverage for personal effects. However, such insurance can be purchased before you leave. Ultimately, Volunteers are responsible for the safekeeping of their personal belongings. If you wish, contact your own insurance company; additionally, insurance application forms will be available and we encourage you to consider them carefully. Additional information about insurance should be obtained by calling the company directly.

Volunteers should not ship or take valuable items overseas. Jewelry, watches, radios, cameras, and expensive appliances are subject to loss, theft, and breakage, and in many places, satisfactory maintenance and repair services are not available.

Do I need an international driver’s license?

Volunteers in Cape Verde do not need to get an international driver’s license. Operation of privately owned vehicles is prohibited. Most urban travel is by bus or taxi. Rural travel ranges from buses to mini-buses to trucks to a lot of walking. On very rare occasions, a Volunteer may be asked to drive a sponsor’s vehicle,but this is only with prior written permission from the country director. Should this occur, the Volunteer may obtain a local driver’s license. Your U.S. driver’s license will facilitate the process, so bring it with you just in case.

What should I bring as gifts for friends and my host family?

This is not a requirement, and be aware of what effect such a precedence may have on future Volunteers where you live. A token of friendship is sufficient. Some gift suggestions include: “knick-knacks” for the house; pictures, books, or calendars of American scenes; souvenirs from your area; hard candies that will not melt or spoil; or photos to give away.

Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?

Peace Corps trainees are not assigned sites until after they have successfully completed pre-service training. This gives the Peace Corps staff the opportunity to assess each trainee’s technical and language skills prior to assigning sites, in addition to finalizing site selections with their counterparts.

If feasible, you may have the opportunity to provide input on your site preferences, including geographical location, distance from other Volunteers, or living conditions. However, many factors influence the site selection process and the Peace Corps cannot guarantee placement where you might ideally like to be. Most Volunteers will live in small towns, but will usually be within one hour from the nearest Volunteer. There will be at least one Volunteer based on seven of the nine inhabited islands, no one on Brava or Boavista and up to five Volunteers in the capital city.

How can my family contact me in an emergency?

The Peace Corps’ Office of Special Services provides assistance in handling emergencies affecting trainees and Volunteers or their families. Before leaving the United States, you should instruct your family to notify the Office of Special Services immediately if an emergency arises, such as a serious illness or death of a family member. During normal business hours, the number for the Office of Special Services is 1.800.424.8580, extension 1470. After normal business hours and on weekends and holidays, the Special Services duty officer can always be reached at 202.638.2574.

For non-emergency questions, your family can get information from your country desk staff at the Peace Corps by calling 1.800.424.8580, and dialing extension 2317 or 2318.

Can I call home from Cape Verde?

International phone service to and from Cape Verde is reasonably good. Calling cards may be used from some telephones. Before leaving the United States, check with your international long distance company to see whether they provide services in Cape Verde. Most Volunteers have telephones in their homes and for a fee (it is significantly more expensive to make calls from Cape Verde to the U.S. than the other way around) many of you will be able to call the U.S. with little difficulty.

Should I bring a cellular phone with me?

Cellphones are available and widely used in Cape Verde, however SIM cards are very expensive and services have not reached some remote areas. Your cellphone from the U.S. will only work here if it is unlocked and works on a GSM network. Cellphones are targets for thefts. Use at your own discretion.

Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?

E-mail access is available in all cities and most small towns. It is not yet available in some remote areas. Many Volunteers find it a great advantage to have their computers with them for work and Internet use. Please note, however, that your computer will be of limited use if you are posted in a remote site.