February 1, 2016
Today we anchored off the coast of Sao Tome, the capital city of Sao Tome and Principe. Sao Tome, located right on the equator, was founded in 1493. The Portuguese arrived in 1470, in search of land to grow sugar. It is a very lush, mountainous country!
To maximize our time here, we chose a 7-hour tour, ‘East Coast to Sao Joao Plantation’. Along the way, it was interesting to observe the housing and daily life of the local people. Most houses are on stilts, as there’s very little level ground, and the rains are quite heavy at times.
The tour included a visit to Roca Agua Ize Plantation. Although the island no longer produces huge volumes of cocoa, the crop still dwarfs every other agricultural export, as seen at this plantation. During our visit, no production was in process in the area where we were allowed to enter. The people who worked and lived in the area were as curious about us as we were about them.
Our visit to Sao Joao Plantation included a tour of some of the plants, a delicious multi-course Santomean lunch, and some music and drumming. The purple flower (below) is a passion fruit blossom.
The kitchen, where food for about 50 people is prepared, is very basic with wood-burning stoves. After lunch, the chef fed the duck and enjoyed a brief stroll on the grounds.
West Africa has been an amazing, eye-opening experience. I look forward to the ports ahead!