While I’ll save the weirdness that was our first Thanksgiving not only abroad, but alone, for a separate blog post – I can say that São Tomé was a beautiful trip and a lovely break from Accra. Give me a week to really get into the throes of the holiday season (and a bottle of wine) and we’ll tackle the holidays.
Did you know about São Tomé and Príncipe, the tiny island(s) nation off the coast of Gabon? I didn’t. Well it’s a relatively untouched former Portuguese colony filled with raw natural beauty, amazing tropical fruits, lovely, warm people (as far as I can tell with the language barrier – they could have been cursing me in Portuguese) and crazy lizards, surrounded by mostly-rocky volcanic beaches and gorgeous blue water.
It had all the makings of a relaxing island paradise, but we’d packed our toddler who…well let’s just say the terrible twos have come way early. Our favorite little good sleeper decided to put us through the ringer with back to back sleepless nights and the occasional hey you’re in public so I am going to really make a scene temper tantrum. At this stage, The Hubs and I are eternally conflicted. Taking him out and making adventure the norm is the best way to teach him how to be a good little traveler, but through the learning curve, it’s not always the relaxing escape we had in mind. We’re always mortified, frustrated, exhausted and wanting to wave the white flag in the moment, but in retrospect we’re glad we made the effort and find ourselves saying it wasn’t that bad. And besides, if tantrums are an unavoidable phase, I’d rather have to deal with a fit in the beauty of a tropical paradise than aisle 5 of the supermarket.
I know that asking your friends and family to not only spend their money, but hard-earned vacation time to visit West Africa doesn’t sound all that appealing. But São Tomé was such a gem (and a cheap, 90 minute flight from Accra), I would totally recommend padding your Swost time with a little weekend escape to paradise to make it worthwhile. Things we didn’t even get to experience included incredible diving, the island of Príncipe, Rolas Island (where you can stand on the equator), most of downtown, and probably so much more. I’m glad we didn’t overdo the tourism, though, so we could sit and enjoy life pool-, surf-side. We did visit the north and south coasts of São Tomé island, have a top-five-meals-of-our-life lunch at a cocoa plantation/inn, see the interior of the island with its beautiful waterfalls and tropical greenery, and enjoy lots of awesome chocolate and coffee.
Enjoy the pics and see more in the flickr album.