Meet a native Cape Verdean, Chan!

Meet a native Cape Verdean Chan!
Reading time 5 minutes

In this article, meet Chan, a native Cape Verdean from the Island of Sal. We met Chan during our trip to Cape Verde, he was our tour guide there.

Travelling is all about learning. One of the best ways to learn is from the locals of the country you are visiting. They will be able to tell you stories, facts, and the daily life of living in that particular country.

Our experience with Chan

We met Chan whilst on our last trip outside Europe before the lock-downs took effect. This was on the Island of Sal, in Cape Verde. We went all around the island on a guided tour with Chan (@Sal Experience), a local tour guide.

Chan made sure we had the best experience. He gave us great insight into what it’s like to live in Cape Verde. We decided to meet up again at the end of our trip to Cape Verde and grab some drinks. Unfortunately that didn’t happen because we had to suddenly return to Ireland. His knowledge and hospitality made us feel at home and we truly enjoyed the experience we had with him. Chan is a hardworking person that wants to share the best of what his country has to offer. He was very friendly and

We hope to meet him again and have another great Sal Experience!

Below we are displaying Chan’s interview! We hope to give you a taste of who is Chan and why we liked him so much! 

How was Chan’s early life?

My name is Chan and I’m a tourist guide from the Island of Sal – the city of Espargos, in Cape Verde. I grew up with my grandmother, although my mother is living next door to us. I never met my dad and I’ve always spent my time as a kid with my grandmother, who grew up in Sal as well, but was originally from the island of S. Nicolau. When she was 13 years old, she moved from S. Nicolau to Pedra de Lume (in Sal), where she bought a room in a house in the village of Hortelã. It was in this house that I was born, the 7th house built in Hortelã.

I recall that in my childhood, I would walk barefoot most of the time. During those days, children only had one pair of shoes that they would use to go to the kinder-garden and the church. The rest of the time, I was always barefoot running around. I was not a very good football player, so I dedicated my time to pets, which had an important role in my life. 

When I was a kid, I would go all the time to eat at my grandma’s, in an area called Pretoria. Here is where South Africans moved to in the 1980s when they arrived in Sal, to work on building the Island’s international airport. During this time, I would always pay attention to my grandma’s stories, as I learned all about the Island’s history told in the first person. I learned how she lived during very difficult times of famine during the 1940s, and the daily struggles by living on an Island, where there is so little water year-round and essential goods are not always available.

What was like growing up in Cape Verde?

I grew up in Cape Verde, and as a good Cape Verdean I knew that my name was Chan, this was a nickname given to me by my grandmother. I only found out my birth name was Ulissandro when I went to primary school, on the first day. This was a disappointment, to know that I had such an ugly and strange name. 

In my second year of high school, my grandmother gave me a small piglet and I started raising pigs. This was a good business because it gave me enough money to buy almost everything that I needed for my studies. However, because of the expansion of the city I was living in, I had to move them to a faraway area, where it was not safe and thieves started stealing my pigs. So, I gave up on this and started to work in construction during summer instead. In this way, I made enough money to pay for my studies. I was a basketball player and I was part of the junior team of the island. After work, I would go to practice and there was one summer, where we were fighting for the national championship, but we lost in the end. 

What got you started in a career in Tourism?

Next summer, I had my first contact with tourism through my friend Rony. He told me to come and work with him on the tours for this company called Buggy. I loved it! It was a much better job than working in construction, more fun, and less heavy than carrying a shovel. When I finished high school, my family did not have any money to pay for my studies, so I worked as a security guard to save up. At the same time, I studied to improve my knowledge of foreign languages, to refine my English and French, and I was always available for any freelance opportunity to guide a group in a tour.     

I studied Communication and Media and started to work as a volunteer for the Espargos Community Radio, in the evenings. I did this for 5 years. During the day, I was working on different things: in the Santa Maria Resort/Hotel, in Event Production, and supermarkets. I was always curious and eager to learn more and I decided to do a course in Tourism. This also had to do with the fact that I was not satisfied with the way the tour guides were doing the tours on the island. I was born here and I know what someone on holiday should get back with, that they should have a true Sal Experience. 

How did Sal Experiences begin?

What is better than having a native showing you around? This was a strong desire I felt to give back and offer something different to visitors. In 2016, I and Enilza Reis a local of Sal and a lover of travel got together and started Sal Experience Tours. This was a long and difficult process mainly because of how difficult and bureaucratic it was to get all the necessary licenses to legalize the company. Having a company in Cape Verde is hard, because of this. There are a lot of sacrifices involved in starting a small company. Today, Sal Experience Tours has offered hundreds of tours to many visitors and provided the best experience and service of making the traveler happy. This is what I want to achieve with my company, to give the best local experience of my country of Cape Verde to everyone!


From traveling the world there’s one thing we learned; Be open to conversation. Traveling is about connecting with people. Making connections around the world and memories with people from other countries. Those are the memories you will remember forever. Thank you Chan for the lovely experience you offered to us! We wish to grab that beer with you on our next trip back to Cape Verde!