At 08:00 we were anchored off the port of São Tomé which is the capital of the island with the same name.
The Portuguese discovered the island in the 15th century and the remains of their long ownership are to be found in colonial buildings along and behind a broad curving bay and promenade. Unfortunately, a long decline has damaged the buildings and the infrastructure.
We went ‘walk about’, having caught the tender to the port and immediately came across the remains of aa narrow-gauge railway that was used to collect sugar cane from the plantations in the interior and deliver it to the port.
From the 16th – 19th century two new crops were introduced – coffee and cocoa – and this brought extraordinary growth that by the 20th century made São Tomé one of the world’s largest cocoa producers.
Apparently, this ended in 1975, when the country lost its way and now more than 80% is foreign aid. The shipwrecks in the bay and the remains of a shipyard ‘speak’ of earlier good fortunes.
We are still under the influence of the slave trade as people were sent to Sao Tome to work but many were housed in transit camps to await shipment to the Gold Coast, Madeira, Cape Verde Islands and Portugal through the market in Lagos.
At 18:56 we crossed the Equator. The traditional ‘crossing the line’ ceremony will be tomorrow in daylight.
As we close, we have nearly 1500 miles to go to our next stop in Namibia.