It is election time during our visit to Príncipe island, and life is as bustling as it probably gets on this quiet island. Our journey by boat had been an adventure, but the timing for the return is unclear, and we see no boat in harbour. Apart from that, going to São Tomé supposedly is against the waves, and thus a wilder ride. We decide to fly back, but that's easier said than done. There is no office of STP Airways, so we ask around. We get a mixed bag of answers: there are two flights a day because of election time, there is only one, there is only a morning flight, there are only flights in the afternoon, flights are full, there is always space - it is not easy to understand how this works. An expat calls the number of the person responsible for the airline, but he is not on the island and cannot be reached. The night before we hope to leave, the French teacher especially comes to our place (the old peoople's home), to tell us that he has found out through a reliable source that there will be two flights. We decide to believe him, and charter two motorbikes the next day to take us to the airport.
Airport is a big word: this is an airfield. When we arrive, people come to us to ask us if there will be a flight, which we find a curious question. Then, a more imposing guy tells us there is no flight that morning, and when we tell him that we have confirmation that there should be, he calls a number and within a minute we know that he is right. He turns out to be working in the air traffic control tower, so we can trust him. After playing around with a ball with one of the guys at the airfield, we get a little bored. He invites us for a walk on the runway, and enthusiastically tells us about the construction of the new runway which, he believes, will bring big planes to Príncipe, and much more tourism. Although we are happy for the opportunities this will bring to the population, we also fear for the effects on this pristine place. He takes us all the way to one end of the runway, and then we walk towards the new one. Construction is going on full-swing, and watching the works, we appreciate that this is a serious job; indeed, it has been going on for years already, and will still take a few more to complete.
We walk the entire length of the old runway, say goodbye to our friend, and decide to walk down to Bom Bom Island. It is yet another beautiful walk through the tropical vegetation of Príncipe, with some great views over the valley below us. Birds fly high over our heads, and we meet very few people on the way. When we finally reach the gate of the resort, we are greeted warmly, and to my surprise, can just continue to walk. When we reach the sea, an empty white sand beach stretches all the way along the bay, and ahead of us, the famous wooden bridge that connects Bom Bom island to Príncipe stretches over the turquoise waters. Even though we have seen the image before (it is everywhere in the tourist publicity), the real sight is yet another thing. The waves are crashing into each other under our feet when we walk to the island, and on the other side, we find an empty restaurant, even though it is lunch time. This is not high season. When we turn around and look back, we see the beaches under the green-covered hills, and in the distance, some of the characteristic peaks of the island. Yes, this is a beautiful place to wind down, but we are happy we took the effort to explore different parts of the island instead. The walk back uphill is easier than expected, but we are sweaty all the same when we arrive at the airfield again. Only when the staff know the weight of all passengers and their luggage, can they confirm that we will be able to fly to São Tomé. We quickly buy a ticket, pass security control, and get a flight safety briefing in the waiting room before boarding the small aircraft.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Bom Bom Island (São Tomé and Príncipe). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Bom Bom Island.
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