São Tomé and Príncipe
São Tomé Island

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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 72

      Sao Tome, Sao Tome and Principe

      March 27, 2023 in São Tomé and Príncipe ⋅ ⛅ 86 °F

      São Tomé is the capital and the larger of two islands of this Central African country (Sao Tome and Principe). It is only 25 miles north of equator … very hot. The country, founded in 1493 by Portuguese to grow sugarcane, received its Independence in 1975. The island is known for cocoa production and 135 species of birds.

      As there are many slave stories in Africa, all very sad, here there is maybe a unique one that is unknown. In 1496,King Manuel I of Portugal punished Portuguese Jews who refused to pay a head tax by deporting almost 2,000 Jewish children (ages 2-10) to São Tomé and Príncipe for work on the sugar plantations. A year after being deported to the islands, only 600 children remained alive. Most of them died, the rest mixed with the nearby African Kingdom of Kongo that eventually became a source of slave labor. Until the early 1600s, descendants of the deported Jewish children retained some Jewish practices but by the 18th century, the Jewish heritage on the islands had largely dissipated. On July 12, 1995, an international conference was held on the islands' twentieth independence day to commemorate the Portuguese-Jewish children who were deported to the islands in the 15th century.[1]


      São Tomé" tells the story of young Marcel Saulo abducted with other children from their synagogue in Lisbon and shipped 4,000 miles to the West-African island.


      We walked around this old but colorful town and saw many school children. We visited the main plaza, Praça da Independancia and a local supermarket (although they sold everything you can image from food, to tools, to linens, to housewares, to toys…). The island has a small production of cocoa and many were told that they make world renowned chocolate. We did not get a chance to try it since the chocolate factory in town was closed when we were in port. For reference: Claudio Corallo Cocoa, Coffee and Chocolate.

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    • Day 28

      São Tomé & Principe

      March 27 in São Tomé and Príncipe ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

      Today was a tender port. We arrived at the town and went up stone steps to the quay. It was so hot.

      A shuttle took us into the town, where the townspeople put on a dance for us. We walked around a couple of blocks. We went into a shop- interesting- fabric and clothing items, some sewing supplies, and surprisingly pots, pans, and water kettles.

      When we returned to the quay, it was still really hot- one lady needed to lie down in the tender, and the crew was trying to cool her with water.
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    • Day 73

      São Tomé & Principe

      March 27, 2023 in São Tomé and Príncipe ⋅ ⛅ 82 °F

      Today is a tender port. São Tomé is the capital and the larger of two island of this Central African country. It is located 25 miles north of equator.
      The country was founded in 1493 by Portuguese. The island was uninhabited before 1470 and Portuguese came in search of land to grow sugarcane.

      2,000 Jewish children, eight years old and under, were taken from the Iberian peninsula for work on the sugar plantations. Most of them died, the rest mixed with the nearby African Kingdom of Kongo that eventually became a source of slave labor as well.

      I booked a private tour for 6 people. We took first tender boat and around 8:30am met out guide. So far, so good.
      Then we saw his car…. It could accommodate six people, but very tight. In addition, four of 6 were very big tall people. Oh well, may be with air condition it will be not too bad. Soon we found out that there is W4-40 air conditioning only (4 open windows - 40 km/hour).

      The tour was basically driving around and stopping in few places to take pictures.
      We saw lots of children in school uniforms. The birth rate is 6-7 kids per woman. Island has very young population, like most of African countries.

      The island has small production of cocoa and makes very good chocolate.
      Our last stop was a chocolate store. Beautiful pastries, gelato and chocolate (also air conditioned store). Suddenly it felt like we are in a different country…somewhere in France. The illusion was short lived, back in the hot 🥵 sun and hot car.
      After we came back onboard, I crashed on the couch and for 30 minutes could not move. Cold shower later made it a little better.
      At 4:15pm there will be a big crossing equator celebration on the upper deck. This is our third crossing on this cruise, but only first time the ship was giving a permission for big gathering.
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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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    • Day 66

      S. Tomé e Principe

      September 25, 2022 in São Tomé and Príncipe ⋅ 🌧 24 °C

      Chegámos a S. Tomé no día 25 de Setembro prontos para começar a nossa aventura. Não antes de termos provado un pouco a paraburocracia saotomense no seu esplendor. Ao chegarmos ao aerporto de S Tomé reparamos que não temos o visto de entrada correcto. Em vez de 25/09 está 25/10 e o que obviamente é um erro informático transforma-se em 120€ de multa e um tens que pagar sim ou sim. Depois de uma hora retidos e suados pelo calor da atmosfera somos liberados para estranho mundo novo.

      Já fora do aeroporto, de noite, somos recebidos pela típica multidão de pessoas em África a oferecer serviço de taxi e a vender coisas. Lá pelo meio distinguimos um ponto branco a acenar-nos. É a nossa coordenadora, a Vanessa, que já estava à nossa espera à uma hora. Vamos com ela e um motorista até ao centro da cidade onde está a casa alugada da Mundo a Sorrir. Esta surpreendeu-nos por estar ao lado do palácio presidencial (único edificio público arranjado no país) e pela ocidentalidade minimalista e reluzente de todas as áreas.
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    • Day 27

      SAO TOME, Sao Tome & Principe

      March 27, 2023 in São Tomé and Príncipe ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

      Hot, hot, 🔥
      Originally planned a private tour but were not comfortable with the company providing the tour. Then we were going to do a ship tour of the city but decided there really wasn't that much to see. We tendered in and joined a group and did our own. And as it turned out, it was so hot that it knocked the stuffing out of us. We soon headed back to the ship.
      Sao Tome was founded in 1485 by Portuguese.
      After leaving the port, we soon crossed the Equator. There was the usual Equator Crossing Cermony, kiss the fish.
      We came across another ex RBC employee today. Gary didn't recognize Astrid, but they worked together eons ago. I think they both might have changed a little bit. What a small world
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    • Day 95


      October 24, 2022 in São Tomé and Príncipe ⋅ ☁️ 26 °C

      La segunda fase de nuestra misión fue en el distrito del sur del país, Cauê, en la capital São João dos Angolares, aunque más bien se trataba de una aldea un poco mayor que las demás. Estuvimos aquí 3 semanas y nos alojamos en casa de unos padres franciscanos muy enrrollados. Eran el frai Manuel, el frai Edimar y el frai Gilson. Teníamos profundas charlas sobre la vida y la muerte y la fe y Dios, y nunca faltaba en la mesa la sagrada sangre de Cristo aka vino de brick. También estaba la empleada de la casa, Sami, a quien le cogimos mucho cariño y hacía los más variados pescados, todos riquísimos. Aunque ya empezábamos a aborrecer el pescado con arroz para comer y cenar, tener la comida preparada al llegar a casa sabía a gloria. Por supuesto no teníamos agua caliente (en la casa de la capital tampoco), pero durante estas semanas tampoco tuvimos una ducha que funcionase, por lo que todos los baños eran con balde y cazo. Además de que solo había agua en la ciudad por la mañana, la luz también se cortaba de forma aleatoria, a veces durante casi el día entero.

      El trabajo era igual que el que llevábamos haciendo hasta ahora, solo que la sala en la que atendíamos en el centro de salud de Cauê era mucho mas agrdable y luminosa. Por otro lado, como algunas escuelas eran muy pequeñas y en esta zona las personas tenían más dificultad para trasladarse hasta la capital del distrito, a los niños de dichas escuelas los tratábamos en el propio centro en el mismo día en que les hacíamos los rastreos. Sin embargo, en la mayoría no tenían electricidad por lo que nuestro trabajo se veía muy limitado. En una aldea en concreto, nos dejaron atender en la casa de una de las familias, ya que tenía una placa solar. Como nos temíamos, la placa no era lo suficientemente potente para nuestro aparato por lo que tuvimos que insistir para que encendieran el generador de la aldea. A la gente le costaba mucho acceder a encender los generadores por nosotros porque el combustible estaba muy caro, claro que nuestro trabajo era para ayudar a la comunidad, pero por otro lado nadie nos había pedido nuestra ayuda. En este día recuerdo perfectamente cómo, en mitad de una odontosección de un 16, me avisaron desde la calle de que el generador se había quedado sin gasolina y tuve que apurar los últimos segundos de electricidad como si la vida me fuese en ello.

      El tiempo libre en estas semanas lo pasamos en el sur, que es la parte más bonita de la isla. Fuimos dos veces al ilhéu das Rolas también conocido como centro del mundo, nos alojamos en una cabaña en la playa Jalé y vimos tortuguitas recién nacidas correr hacia el mar por primera vez, nos pasábamos las tardes de domingo leyendo en la playa que teníamos al lado de casa.

      De esta época destaco el sentirme mucho más cercana a la comunidad sãotomense, conviviendo entre ellos y sorprendiéndome a mí misma al no querer irme de allí a pesar de no tener las mismas comodidades que en la ciudad. Un tiempo después, recordaría con nostalgia estos días pasados entre charlas animosas con los padres, caminos tortuosos por las carreteras llenas de baches, gritos de gallos a todas horas de la noche y niños entusiasmados al vernos llegar a sus clases. Me enamoro por completo de este país.
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    • Day 71

      Primera semana

      September 30, 2022 in São Tomé and Príncipe ⋅ 🌧 26 °C

      Decidimos empezar nuestro viaje aprovechando nuestra libertad para ayudar a otros, por lo que emprendemos una misión de 3 meses con la ONG Mundo A Sorrir, que trabaja aportando atención dental a diversos países africanos de habla portuguesa. La primera semana la pasamos organizando material y dando unas charlas a los doctores y auxiliares del servicio de estomatología del hospital. En medio de todo el shock cultural y los sentimientos encontrados que nos suponen ver las condiciones de vida del país, aún tenemos tiempo para hacer turismo por la parte norte de la isla.Read more

    You might also know this place by the following names:

    São Tomé, Sao Tome, São Tomé Island, Сао Томе, Illa de São Tomé, Σάο Τομέ, Isla de Santo Tomé, São Tomé saar, Illa de San Tomé, Pulau São Tomé, サントメ島, 상투메 섬, San Tomė, Sao Tomé, Wyspa Świętego Tomasza, Ilha de São Tomé, Provincia São Tomé, Сан-Томе, Svätý Tomáš, เกาะเซาตูเม, 圣多美岛

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