Saturday, May 24, 2014

At Play

At play on a sunny afternoon, boys ride on the raft they threw together from local bamboo.  I remember doing the same on a pond with friends when I was a kid in Texas.

Up by the waterfall, moms do the family laundry.
(You can click on the pictures to see them full sized.)
Down the eastern shore of Sao Tome & Principe, an African island country, the mountain river flows over a waterfall into the inlet where they play.  Moms do laundry up near the falls before the fresh water mixes with the salt ocean.

No tourists, no hotels; a local fellow invited me down to see the village and meet folks that live there.

Kids learn to swim early on.  No Red Cross swim classes like where I grew up.  They teach each other in the course of growing up.

The kids stand on a sandy beach, but the rocky
 shoreline is from the island's volcanic origin.
The only work for fathers here is fishing, and that's troublesome.  Illegal fishing by wealthy countries has seriously depleted the pelagic fish populations in the Gulf of Guinea.  The gulf's coastal communities who depend on fishing have been the ones most harmed. International efforts to stem the illegal activity have had minimal success; it will be a century or more before the populations recover.

An almost-road leads down through the tiny village
to the shore and the waterfall.  The cobblestones are
a leftover from the early 20th century.
Fortunately, unlike much of equatorial Africa, the climate here supports a fairly prolific ecosystem. Breadfruit, bananas (maybe 5 different types), jackfruit (jaque), and mangoes, all are commonly available.

The kids from a family took me by the hand to go with them to get mangoes.  I thought we were going to a kiosk vendor, but they took me to a tree along the pathway and threw sticks up into the tree until they had a dozen or so, then we went home.

My friend and work partner Freddie had an
interesting problem.  When we traveled
together, folks would insist on talking to
him in Portuguese.  Since he's black,
obviously he would speak Portuguese!
Not a word, unfortunately.
Unlike much of Sub-Saharan Africa, they have enough rain here.  It feeds the rivers and the countryside well enough.  You can use a banana palm leaf for an umbrella if you get caught out in the rain; that's what they do.

As tough and practical as the folks here are (and must be in order to live), they are comfortably hospitable.  We were welcomed pretty much everywhere we stopped.  Community leaders, school faculties, government officials, police and military, all were approachable and graciously receptive.  It's a nicer place than most.