We have been looking forward to visiting São Tomé and Príncipe for a few years already - it seems like an exotic destination, almost completely unknown (before going, friends looked with a puzzled stare, and guessed it was located in the Caribbean, or Pacific), and we have no real imagine to match. Our minds are empty, and that is the best way to travel - we are ready to be surprised. On our flight to São Tomé, we try to spot the Santomean people; besides the looks of the countryside and the sea, we are curious about its inhabitants. Soon enough, we are welcomed by them, already at the airport. Big smiles, and curious faces: with a lack of mass-tourism, we feel they are wondering about us as much as the other way around.
In our contact with the Santomeans, we find that they are genuine and authentic. Sometimes, a little serious at first, or perhaps just shy, but once contact is established, they love to talk and show us their smiles. Walking the streets, they often greet you with a Bom Dia, or Bondja if they speak creole - they are so close it is difficult to even hear the difference. Often, they take time to stop and chat, asking us the usual questions - where are you from? - and wish us a good day. Hardly ever are we harassed; we get friendly welcomes, and friendlier goodbyes. Yes, kids, follow us sometimes, but with the best intentions, and trying to practice their language with a foreigner, and showing something of their land.
Walking the streets of São Tomé town, I stop and take a picture of an old building from the colonial times. Two women look at me, not understanding, laugh, and say - Why don't you take a picture of us? And they are right: they are much more beautiful than the old, faded walls of a building. A bunch of half-drunk women at the market, with bottles in their hands, insist I take a picture of them. Inhabitants of small villages are even less used to foreigners, but also in the big town of the country, we experience a warm welcome, and hardly anyone trying to take advantage of us. Moreover, we visit in election time, and see parties on pick-up trucks, people dancing, enthusiastically waving their flags. Meanwhile, kids are playing with self-made toys. The overall feeling we get after visiting both islands, is that the Santomeans love life, welcome their guests - we can only hope they will stay just the way they are.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Santomean people (). 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 Santomean people.
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