São Tomé and Príncipe
Ponta São Jerónimo

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    • Day 72

      Crossing the Equator - King Neptune

      March 27, 2023 in São Tomé and Príncipe ⋅ ⛅ 84 °F

      At exactly 4:15pm, we experienced the Crossing Equator Ceremony called the Order of the Shellback. It started as a tradition in the 19th Century (and was continued by the US Navy in WWII), created by seasoned sailors as a test of new shipmates, to ensure they were capable of handling long, difficult times at sea (or as the story goes, to please King Neptune). Sailors who have already crossed the equator are called Trusty Shellbacks (Sons of Neptune), while those who have not crossed are called Slimy Pollywogs (Wogs).

      The initiation converts inexperienced Wogs into experienced Shellbacks using “physical assaults” (cracking eggs, shave cream on their heads, pasta, cornstarch, rotting garbage, beatings and many other more gruesome experiences). Since the 1980’s the ceremony is more tame.

      After which, the Pollywogs receive subpoenas to appear before King Neptune and Highness Amphitrite, and the Royal Baby and other pirates. They finish the ritual and receive their certificate and entrance into the Shellbacks …. Never to have to do that again.

      The final picture was taken in December 2018 when Bruce, Karen and Lee crossed the equator while in the Orient. We used this “cleaned up” photo (we were originally covered with much more waste) for thank you notes for several years.

      17 photos, followed by 2 videos, and then 1 photo.
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    • Day 106

      São Tome, São Tomé and Príncipe

      March 27, 2023 in São Tomé and Príncipe ⋅ ⛅ 84 °F

      New-to-us Port #27.

      OMG! Was it hot and humid today?!? With a feels-like temperature of 92F and little-to-no shade relief, we felt like we were in a sauna as we wandered around the city … sweat dripping out of every pore in our bodies.

      Weather like this is probably normal for São Tomé and Príncipe. This African island nation is, after all, just 20 minutes north of the Equator. We expect to cross into the Southern Hemisphere this afternoon at 4:15p.

      It was obvious from stepping out on the veranda around 6:30a that it was going to be a hot, hot, hot day. So, Mui and I decided not to dally on the ship. Get off early and return early was the plan … though probably not nearly as early as we ended up doing so.

      Originally, I had booked a plantation tour through the ship. But when a fellow-passenger set up a private tour, I decided to jump on that one. Unfortunately, those plans fell apart about a month ago. The only ship’s tour that was available when I went to rebook was the afternoon highlights tour. Nope, don’t want to do that. So, I booked a private tour that would have taken Mui and me to some plantations and beaches. But a few days ago, we decided to cancel it. After all the tours we’ve been doing since arriving in West Africa, we were simply toured out! Time to just go off on our own.

      Once we were ashore, we found the port shuttle that had a drop off at Praça da Independancia … the city center. Just a 10-minute or so ride. Perfect.

      Our idea was to first head to the shop of a chocolate master … Claudio Corallo. It came highly recommended. The email Mui received in response to the query he had sent to get tickets for the demonstration indicated that we could purchase them on arrival. So, we walked to the shop, following the waterfront, seeking shade where we could find it for a bit of respite.

      Unfortunately, when we arrived at the building, we found it locked up tight. The sign on the door listed the opening time as 8:00a. It was way past that. Worse, the demo and tasting weren’t until 4:00p. No can do. The last tender was scheduled for 3:30p. So, we moved on.

      Returning to downtown via backroads that took us by supermarkets and a couple of open air markets yielded nothing of interest … not even relief from the heat in the form of A/C at the supermarket. We kept walking … nothing we saw encouraged us to dally.

      We’d passed the São Tomé Cathedral — aka Our Lady of Grace Cathedral — on the way to Independence Plaza. So, we found it easily enough. Construction of the original church that was near the site of the current one began at the end of the 15th century. It was reconstructed between 1576-1578, but fell into such disrepair by 1784 that it had to be rebuilt in 1814 at the initiative of the local people. The last modification was in 1956. At which time, it was remodeled in an eclectic revival style with a neo-romanesque main façade.

      The interior was quite simply decorated, the blue & white azulejo tiles on the side aisles and above the altar being the highlights. Our timing was good as there was hardly anyone in the church when we arrived.

      By this time, it was 10:00a. I was “put a fork in me, I’m done.” My liquid intake wasn’t able to keep up with the liquid I was losing through sweating. So, we slowly made our way along the waterfront to the shuttle stop and returned to the tender pier. We discussed walking the four blocks to the fortress where I knew the National Museum was located. I just couldn’t. We should have done that at the beginning of the day. C’est La Vie.
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    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Ponta São Jerónimo, Ponta Sao Jeronimo

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