Friday, July 4, 2014


My friends, visiting a beach on the other side of the country from where
 they live.  It's only about 20 miles; it's a small country.
Among Africa's more fortunate residents, young folks play on a tropical beach that rivals any in the world for beauty.  In the background, young men make their way to today's fishing grounds.

Clowning around for the photo ...  they took 100+ pictures
with the cameras.
The country is extraordinarily appealing, maybe because it's not like anything in the developed world.  Not remotely. Perhaps that's the reason the few who know about the place are likely to return despite the travel difficulties and expense.  Given the chance, we'd gladly spend summers and weekends and holidays there.

Sao Tome and Principe is a tiny island country in western Africa's Gulf of Guinea.  They face tremendous challenges as they labor to build a stable government and economy.  They're perhaps more likely to succeed than most coastal nations.  They're small enough to keep folks aware and involved; they're government is perhaps less corrupt than ours.

Like kids everywhere, these enjoy the chance to goof off for a few hours.  Unlike the developed world's youth, these have only little concern with fashion or possessions or some 'in crowd'.  They and their parents are content to be fed, housed, and healthy.  They have virtually no violence or crime, primarily perhaps because everyone is poor and everybody knows everybody.

It's 85 degrees and sunny, pretty much every day, year around.
A perfect place for beach lovers.
Houses are commonly raised off the ground to keep critters out, 
and the upward air flow through the floor from the shaded 
area underneath cools the house a bit.
Moms and dads work harder than most of their counterparts in the western world. Employment is hard to find and pays at best perhaps $60/month for unskilled labor and twice that for skills.  Their costs for everything in a store are about the same as ours.  The saving grace is that the islands are prolific with mangoes and bananas, breadfruit and coconuts.  With modest effort, you can eat.

Most live in the simplest of homes.  Electricity is available in most areas, but hasn't been particularly reliable.  The country's new power plant provided by Taiwan as a development project should improve things.

Our hope for the little country is the same as theirs, that the country can develop moderately and sustainably, and avoid the decimation we've seen in the oil-rich economies.  None of those have done particularly well.