Sao Tome City & Island Views

Ilheu Rolas sits off the southern tip of Sao Tome, larger of Sao Tome e Principe’s two main islands. The airport is just outside the eponymous capital and largest city. Sao Tome became the second Portuguese-colonial city I’ve visited — after Macau in 1983 when it, like Sao Tome, had that ineffable beauty and faded charm that somehow comes with genteel, unpretentious colonial architecture that’s grown a tad dilapidated from years of tropical rain and sun. Above, the cathedral; below, various street scenes and bay views. The entire country has maybe 300,000 inhabitants, I think; the city perhaps 60,000 — so it’s a far cry from Port Harcourt and Lagos!

There’s roughly a two-hour drive to get one from the northern side of Sao Tome, site of both the airport and the eponymous capital city, down to the southern tip whence the boats for Ilheu Rolas depart. Both coming and going, I tremendously enjoyed the trip with its views of rubber, cocoa and coconut plantations; steep cliffs diving dramatically to lovely bays and coves; verdant landscapes with volcanic plugs looming sharply in the distance (see below); and small villages, with village women (above) doing their washing in rivers & draping it to dry on any available flat surface (I so wish I’d managed a shot on one of the flat road verges or rocky river banks literally carpeted in clothing laid out in the sun to dry — rather like a huge bank of solar panels, only a bit less high-tech…). Both going and coming, it made a fine transition from the crowdedness of Lagos, Port Harcourt, and Nigeria to the peace and relative isolation of Ilheu Rolas.

…and a few parting shots for your enjoyment: Sao Tome seen from one of the small beaches on Ilheu Rolas, Sao Tome (immediately above) seen from the boat as I left the resort (look closely and you’ll see the volcanic plug, which looks a good deal less dramatic with the other hills and mountains in front of and behind it); and, below, parting views of the resort and of the whole island. Farewell, oh blissful retreat. 🙂

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