Sao Tome and Angola

Covering these two ports will be quick and easy.  We were supposed to take a ship’s excursion to a coffee plantation, but were notified the tour was canceled due to “operating problems”.  It turns out the problem was the plantation is no longer operating, and has not for several years.  The country (actually Sao Tome & Principe, two islands near each other off the west coast of Africa) is suffering intensely since the coffee exports have failed; they’re hoping for offshore oil to be found.

There was no place to dock, so we took the tender in to shore.

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Then, we took the provided shuttle bus from the ship to the center of town (an old school bus that I think had square wheels).

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Betsy had been looking for African fabric, and we learned there was a fabric shop only a block from the bus stop.  On the way, we saw a formal, ritualized dance in the town square.  One group of five or so was dressed in black formal clothing, and the other was in colorful native dress.  Each group had a leader.  The groups advanced to one another, then backed away, while the leaders danced and whirled around them.  Individual members of a group would advance alone, and bow.  FInally, the groups advanced to each other and bowed.  We later found out it’s called Tchilili and is a dance depicting the coming together of the Africans and Europeans.  This group is one of about a dozen who perform the dance, and is probably one of the best.  I was fascinated by many of the individuals, particularly the old gentleman in the top hat, so dignified, and the graceful old lady in the flowing silver dress.

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We made our way to the fabric shop, where Betsy bought two lengths of fabric, about 6 yards each, for $12 each.  Then we made our way back to the tender and rejoined the ship.  Later, Betsy showed off her fabric.

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The next day found us in Luanda, Angola.  There isn’t a whole lot to see in Angola, and we didn’t want to wander far on our own, so we signed up for a city highlights tour with the ship’s destination department.  There were four small buses, each with a driver and a guide.  Our guide was not very good.  At our first stop, he said, “You can get out and take some photos.”  Since we were stopped on a city street, we could take our photos out of the window.  Then, we sat.  And sat.  And waited.  Finally, after more  than 20 minutes, we asked why we were waiting.  The guide said, “We wait until the people return from the church.”  “What church?” we all chorused.  “The one over there, across the boulevard and around the corner.”  “Why didn’t you tell us?”  “I said you could get out…”  The tour went a bit downhill from there.

We did get to see the beach (a 5 mile ride along a narrow strip of land, then around the end and back, with the guide stating, “There’s the beach.”  Next was a fort which featured gorgeous blue tiles in the interior, which we knew about from reading the port description, and finally the mausoleum of the country’s first President, where we weren’t permitted to take photos.

Our "church" stop

Our “church” stop

The beach

The beach

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Not one of the highlights of the cruise.

Next — Namibia, including Walvis Bay and Luderitz — which were highlights.

 

 

Don Horner

About Don Horner

Okeechobee, Florida
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