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Bare and basic interior at Murdeira Typical Developer Furnishing Locally made furnishingsPorto Antigo bedroomImported quality furniture

Cape Verde: How to Furnish Locally

Finding and buying furniture or appliances and getting things fixed without endless hassle.

The majority of people who have bought flats or houses off-plan in developments in Cape Verde opted to buy a furniture pack either from the sales agent or the developer. Since one of the most prolific developers owned a furniture business in Ireland, this seemed to many to be good sense. It certainly was not going to be a cheap way to buy furniture but it promised to be hassle free.

Sadly many owners who contracted for furniture supply and paid over as much as £25,000 upfront never received any. There has been a Court case in Malaga, where one of the estate agents supplying furniture was based. But the Spanish judge ruled that she had no jurisdiction over furniture that had not beeen supplied and the case was rejected. There have been allegations that the estate agent paid over client`s money to a furniture supplier, which went bust. Whether or not this is what actually happenned, there have been no credible reports of investors receiving refunds.

There are now some shops in Santa Maria which stock furniture which has been imported and which are delivered to a property as soon as they are paid for. One has very attractiove but expensive painted Italian chairs and tables. There are Chinese shops in Espargos, which sell the dark, heavy wooden furniture favoured by the Chinese. In Mindelo and Praia, too, there are furniture shops, mostly offering Chinese designs. For other islands, it would be possible to have furniture delivered to a ferry and to collect it at the arrival port with an aluguer pick-up.

Flats and houses in some of the earlier developments such as Murdeira and Porto Antigo were supplied from the start with a basic range of furniture, as well as cookers, refrigerators, washing machines and freezers.

Most of the beds, tables and chairs were made locally by a carpenter in Espargos, who was worked off his feet for a few years, until the boom turned to bust. They are made in an African light wood that ressembles deal or pine and are quite robust and hard-wearing. Most importantly if they do break, they can easily be repaired by any local carpenter.

Carpinteria Martins who has a workshop down the dirt road just behind the Shell station in Espargos, can be highly reccomended to anyone who wants to have their own furnitire made, or existing furniture repaired. Frank, who has a workshp in the northern backstreets of Espargos, is less esy to deal with. Prices are not particularly low since the timber has to be imported from West Africa paying high freights and high import duties. But Martins at least deliver on time, sticks to the quoted price and in unfailingly reponsive. These are rare and oprized qualities in Cape Verde.

The electrical equipment supplied in Murdeira was German usually Bosch or Liebherr and of the highest quality. In Porto Antigo it was Italian. The German stuff has worked well and for a long time. However, as machines get older, they wear out. Parts break, compressors fail and the machine stops working. At this point, you discover that absolutely nobody stocks parts for European electrical equipment in Cape Verde.

Nor does anybody seem competent to order parts from Portugal. Just to make matters worse, the design of Bosch electrical goods sold in Portugal is different from those sold in Germany, which are again different from those sold in Germany. So much for Teutonic efficiency.

Even in Europe, parts for Liebherr or Bosch appliances are astonishingly expensive. If you bought enough parts to replace an entire machine, you would easily pay ten or twenty times the cost. If you do manage to fly in a new part, you then have the nightmare of trying to get someone who knows how to fit it.

Recently, an electrician working for Construr, which does most of the work around Murdeira, managed to create a fire by fitting a defective transfer box to a brand new electric oven, which only had a power consumption of 300 watts or 13 amps. How this was done, will never be known as they always spread the blame elsewhere.

During the winter, Frank a handyman from north Germany, lives in a flat to the north of Murdeira. He undertakes almost any type of household repair work. He turns up on time and generally finishes on time. He charges German rates but many people, especially Germans, feel that he is worthwhile to avoid the hassle of an incompetent Cape Verdean. For people who are not German, he has just two drawbacks. He speaks only German and he demands payment in cash, to be supplied the instant that he puts his tools down. Perhaps this is the German way. There is an Englishman who does similar work for similar rates in Santa Maria.

Once an appliance fails, in many cases. the only sensible alternatives are to buy a new one either locally or in Europe. The drawback with byuying locally is that some of the equipment is Chinese and some Porrtuguese. More seriously some of the items on sale are already broken. A Lebanese shop in Espargos was selling a refrigerator which was already broken. This was discovered when the buyer insisted that it be plugged in and tested before leaving the shop. Of course, had it left the premises , the shopkeeper would swear blind that it was damaged in transit. Inded, he already had this story so pat in his mind, that he mistakenly explained this, before uit had actually been paid for. A lucky escape, indeed for warranties are not a Cape Verdean concept.

Another option is to buy replacement goods in Europe and fly them out. Yes it is expensive at around £3 per Kg of weight. Import duties, which used to have an allowance of 100kg or €1,000 now seem to be levied on everything. And the customs man at the airport insists on the use of his facoured Despachante, which can easily delay matters for a week. Keep the receipts, or you may be charged on a purchase price that it three to four times, what was actually paid. But if you have all the paper work in Portuguese, you may ecventually extract your goods from the airport with a 30% duty and various other small charges.

Next, you have to find someone competent to fit it, if it is not a plug-in item (see above)