Rolas Islet, São Tomé and Principe

Rolas Islet: São Tomé and Principe at Latitude Zero

Whale Point
Passengers about to board the Ponta da Baleia anchorage.
Ex-trunk canoes
Handcrafted canoes safe from the waves near the Ponta da Baleia anchorage.
View of Pico Cão Grande
Panorama of the south of the island of São Tomé with Pico Cão-Grande in the distance.
on board the ferry
Helmsman and passengers during the trip to Ilhéu das Rolas.
Porto Alegre
Palm trees above the Porto Alegre roça, in the south of the island of São Tomé.
strange navigation
Two São Toméans in boats of different categories.
Pillory II
Pillory in front of the main colonial farm of Ilhéu das Rolas.
the jetty
Boatman on the pier of Ilhéu das Rolas.
chapel of St. Francis of Xavier
São Francisco Chapel, one of the buildings that passengers see upon arrival at Ilhéu das Rolas.
the boatman
Helmsman of the ferry that connects Ponta da Baleia to Ilhéu das Rolas.
The Coconut Tree Trail
Trail of Rolas islet flanked by large coconut trees.
Dirty Pigs
Pigs roam the equatorial jungle of Ilhéu das Rolas.
the pillory
Portuguese colonial pillory next to the wharf of Ilhéu das Rolas.
shadow duo
Couple passes under a leafy tree of Ilhéu das Rolas.
Lonely Coconut
Acrobatic palm tree in a bay of Ilhéu das Rolas facing east.
tropical cove
Inlet in the south of Ilhéu das Rolas below a dense forest of coconut trees.
Beach Resting
Young resident of Ilhéu das Rolas in a rocky inlet.
Equilibrist coconut trees
Coconut trees balanced in the middle of a volcanic slope.
Ponta da Cabra
Coconut trees crown Ponta da Cabra, in the south of Ilhéu das Rolas.
ephemeral beach
Sandy coastline in the southeast of Ilhéu das Rolas.
The southernmost point of São Tomé and Príncipe, Ilhéu das Rolas is lush and volcanic. The big news and point of interest of this island extension of the second smallest African nation is the coincidence of crossing the Equator.

A Pestana Resort employee welcomes passengers.

We followed in its wake, down a stairway, under a hillside jungle from which a coconut tree with no coconuts stood out, and a nearby palm tree, which seemed to us to be one of those that give rise to palm oil.

Dark rocks of solidified lava served as a base for the ensemble and as a landing place for a prolific colony of crabs too curious to resist a peek.


A sea as green as vegetation caressed the magma. Up and down the gravel that was made of sand there, to the stern of two traditional canoes, each dug in its own trunk.

At the bottom of the stairs, we climb aboard an unobstructed rowboat and, with the sky darkening before our eyes, moments later, the host and boatman pass us to a kind of metallic nutshell.

The destination ferry was out of step with the vessel in which we thought we would relax from the two hours we had spent on the mini-bus, the time of the trip between the capital São Tomé and Ponta da Baleia.

Instead, as soon as we leave the deep bay that also welcomes Vila Malanza and Porto Alegre, the ferry is at the mercy of the Atlantic. For a mere hundred meters, the northern one.

At a certain point, in line with Porto Alegre, we see the eccentric palm trees that delimit the entrance to the homonymous garden, standing out against the sky laden with Gravana.

We could almost swear that these were bamboo arecas, their long, thin trunk is so peculiar, crowned by a tiny canopy in the shape of a feather duster.

The usual quarter of an hour of the crossing is won. The vigorous waves of the almost south Atlantic continue to agitate us, some of them so daring that they melt into the boat.

we distanced ourselves from São Tomé, between bouncing dolphins, however, in the threading of the Ilhéu das Rolas pier.

From the Porto Alegre farm, we can only see the crown of the areca palms and the top of the old mansion that served as its logistical and operational headquarters.

Above, hinted at the sharp point of Pico Cão Grande (663m altitude, 300m from the ground), the phonolite guardian of Ôbo, the jungle that coats the southwest of São Tomé with tropical mystery.

Finally, at about eleven in the morning, we disembarked for the exogenous domain of the Pestana Ecuador resort.

The opening steps in Ilhéu das Rolas confront us with the yellow and blue chapel of São Francisco de Xavier, an unfailing temple, like so many others in the archipelago.

During the XNUMXth century São Tomé and Príncipe was colonized mainly by New Christians who the Inquisition expelled from Portugal, but also by slavers and slaves who ensured the pioneering cultivation of sugarcane in the archipelago.

Over time, Brazilian sugar, much more abundant and of better quality, made São Tomé sugar unnecessary.

Simultaneously, in the image of Old Town on the island of Santiago de Cape Verde, Sao Tome and Príncipe it became a slave supply platform for Brazil.

Every afternoon, dozens of descendants of forced laborers brought in from the coasts of Africa.

Or, later, migrated from Cape Verde, play lively football matches in front of the temple, in the vicinity of the island's pillory and the restored colonial mansion that has it in a small garden.

Even walled, the chapel's sandy atrium fails to sustain a few misdirected or ricocheting balls. Retrieving them comes with the reward of a dip in the emerald sea below.

Let's also hook up with some. Not so brief, yet, rushed by the urge to unravel the real island beyond the hotel.

Once upon a time, Ilhéu das Rolas welcomed more than 600 people from São Tomé, supported by the local school, a series of small businesses, some arable land and easy and guaranteed fishing.

From 2004, however, Pestana Ecuador occupied the north of the islet.

It is true that it employed some of the residents.

But it will also be that it increasingly sought insular exclusivity, through evictions compensated for compensation that the local community classified as meager and malicious.

Today, out of almost 700 São Toméans, one tenth of those who continue to resist the offers of the Pestana Group, the largest investor in São Tomé and Príncipe, generating more than 600 jobs across the country, remain.

Truth be told, resort employees aside, during the discovery walk of Ilhéu das Rolas, we didn't find a single resident.

By helping the party, we managed to misread the map.

In search of the alleged ruins of the old fort, we get lost along unusual paths, with the vegetation around the nearest volcano crater dense and tall.

We became disoriented, in fact, for so long that we were convinced that the term islander would be inappropriate. We came across a herd of pigs, muddy and frightened by our appearance in a land, normally, theirs alone.

We got even more lost, until we decided to plug in the phone data and pay a roaring racket, the price of knowing where we'd gone and how we'd get out.

On the way back to the starting point, we find ourselves on another path, coastal and easy to follow. It followed the sections of the east coast of the island, when we entered it, between the Miradouro do Amor and the rugged, dramatic south of Ponta Cabra.

There, there were deep coves with large cliffs of solidified lava in shades of black and ocher that highlighted the green of the tropical forest.

Different patterns and orientations revealed different lava layers. From the earth and dust accumulated among some, acrobatic coconut trees sprang up, freed from the fierce competition that their counterparts lived on top of the cliffs.

The Atlantic invades these coves with a concentrated fury.

It invests with waves of a bluish-white that roll and thunder large stones of basalt polished by millenary friction. Indifferent and busy, specimens of orange-billed strawtails flew over the suddenness of the elements, tireless fishing trips and returning to their nests.

The waves of waves almost completely disappeared the sandy beaches of Escada and Joana beaches, which, under a more favorable weather, shine, as if embedded in the jungle, and are one of the most picturesque and seductive of São Tomé and Príncipe.

Accordingly, we inaugurated the return to the northern tip, passing by the island's lighthouse, erected in 1929.

Without even thinking about it, we had already crossed the Equator, once up, once down.

In this third passage, we go straight to the landmark that marks it, the supreme monument of Ilhéu das Rolas, also known as the Center of the World.

At the turn of the second decade of the XNUMXth century, the geographical and topographical notions of the archipelago were precarious.

They were limited to measurements with the aim of establishing the limits of the gardens that, in tiny islands, at a certain point, came into conflict.

These measurements and surveys lacked a geodetic network and its rigor.

By that time, in addition to being a naval officer, Carlos Viegas Gago Coutinho, was already an aviator, cartographer and a pilot with all the qualifications and anything else to carry the recently delineated geodesic mission of São Tomé, the materialize between 1915 and 1918.

In 1916, Gago Coutinho disembarked in charge of carrying out the geodesic triangulation of São Tomé, in order to make a topographical map of the archipelago at 1/25.000 scale feasible.

His measurements and establishment of twenty-two major marks and nineteen minor landmarks continued into 1917.

Despite the existence of unmistakable references that served as vertex points, such as the Cigar, the Big Dog and the Small Dog, among others, the almost resident cloudiness that surrounded them forced Gago Coutinho and his team to camp in these places for several days.

Eleven, twelve and even fifteen, always soaked in humidity, or drenched by frequent rains, as happened around Pico Cantagalo (848m).

The resulting accounts, these, had to be done until 1919. Two years after his arrival, Gago Coutinho provided the final letter and the Geodesic Mission Report, considered to be the first complete geodesy work in one of the Portuguese colonies.

Of the vertices it reached, the highlight was that of Ilhéu das Rolas, measured from the equator.

With this primordial vertex, Gago Coutinho proved that latitude zero crossed the north of Ilhéu das Rolas instead of passing between the islet and São Tomé, as had been previously supposed.

In 1936, the monument that celebrates the passage of the equator line and the work of Gago Coutinho, with a white armillary sphere based on a graphic and gaudy world map, as we find it, however, surrounded by coconut trees, banana trees, overlooking the North Atlantic and a glimpse of São Tomé.

Well admired the monument and the panorama, we sat down on the small bench, recovering from the hours of walking we took on our legs.

Composed again, we make our photos. Some already expected, with one foot in each of the hemispheres of the Terra. Others, according to other photographic vertices that come to mind.

About Latitude Zero and Ilhéu das Rolas, every day lasts the same. This one was a long one, with the sunset and the time of all the stings imminent.

We abbreviated the return to the resort's refuge, already in lands of the Northern Hemisphere.

São Tomé and Principe

Cocoa Roças, Corallo and the Chocolate Factory

At the beginning of the century. In the XNUMXth century, São Tomé and Príncipe generated more cocoa than any other territory. Thanks to the dedication of some entrepreneurs, production survives and the two islands taste like the best chocolate.
Príncipe, São Tomé and Principe

Journey to the Noble Retreat of Príncipe Island

150 km of solitude north of the matriarch São Tomé, the island of Príncipe rises from the deep Atlantic against an abrupt and volcanic mountain-covered jungle setting. Long enclosed in its sweeping tropical nature and a contained but moving Luso-colonial past, this small African island still houses more stories to tell than visitors to listen to.
São Tomé, São Tomé and Príncipe

Journey to where São Tomé points the Equator

We go along the road that connects the homonymous capital to the sharp end of the island. When we arrived in Roça Porto Alegre, with the islet of Rolas and Ecuador in front of us, we had lost ourselves time and time again in the historical and tropical drama of São Tomé.
São Nicolau, Cape Verde

Photography of Nha Terra São Nicolau

The voice of the late Cesária Verde crystallized the feeling of Cape Verdeans who were forced to leave their island. who visits São Nicolau or, wherever it may be, admires images that illustrate it well, understands why its people proudly and forever call it their land.
Chã das Caldeiras, Fogo Island Cape Verde

A "French" Clan at the Mercy of Fire

In 1870, a Count born in Grenoble on his way to Brazilian exile, made a stopover in Cape Verde where native beauties tied him to the island of Fogo. Two of his children settled in the middle of the volcano's crater and continued to raise offspring there. Not even the destruction caused by the recent eruptions deters the prolific Montrond from the “county” they founded in Chã das Caldeiras.    
Cidade Velha, Cape Verde

Cidade Velha: the Ancient of the Tropico-Colonial Cities

It was the first settlement founded by Europeans below the Tropic of Cancer. In crucial times for Portuguese expansion to Africa and South America and for the slave trade that accompanied it, Cidade Velha became a poignant but unavoidable legacy of Cape Verdean origins.

island of salt, Cape Verde

The Salt of the Island of Sal

At the approach of the XNUMXth century, Sal remained lacking in drinking water and practically uninhabited. Until the extraction and export of the abundant salt there encouraged a progressive population. Today, salt and salt pans add another flavor to the most visited island in Cape Verde.
Boa Vista Island, Cape Verde

Boa Vista Island: Atlantic waves, Dunas do Sara

Boa Vista is not only the Cape Verdean island closest to the African coast and its vast desert. After a few hours of discovery, it convinces us that it is a piece of the Sahara adrift in the North Atlantic.
Santa Maria, Sal Island, Cape Verde

Santa Maria and the Atlantic Blessing of Sal

Santa Maria was founded in the first half of the XNUMXth century, as a salt export warehouse. Today, thanks to the providence of Santa Maria, Sal Ilha is worth much more than the raw material.
Santo Antão, Cape Verde

Up and Down the Estrada da Corda

Santo Antão is the westernmost of the Cape Verde Islands. There lies an Atlantic and rugged threshold of Africa, a majestic insular domain that we begin by unraveling from one end to the other of its dazzling Estrada da Corda.
Fogo Island, Cape Verde

Around the Fogo Island

Time and the laws of geomorphology dictated that the volcano-island of Fogo rounded off like no other in Cape Verde. Discovering this exuberant Macaronesian archipelago, we circled around it against the clock. We are dazzled in the same direction.
São Nicolau, Cape Verde

São Nicolau: Pilgrimage to Terra di Sodade

Forced matches like those that inspired the famous morna “soda” made the pain of having to leave the islands of Cape Verde very strong. Discovering saninclau, between enchantment and wonder, we pursue the genesis of song and melancholy.
São Tomé, São Tomé and Principe

Through the Tropical Top of São Tomé

With the homonymous capital behind us, we set out to discover the reality of the Agostinho Neto farm. From there, we take the island's coastal road. When the asphalt finally yields to the jungle, São Tomé had confirmed itself at the top of the most dazzling African islands.
Sao Tome (city), São Tomé and Principe

The Capital of the Santomean Tropics

Founded by the Portuguese, in 1485, São Tomé prospered for centuries, like the city because of the goods in and out of the homonymous island. The archipelago's independence confirmed it as the busy capital that we trod, always sweating.
Saudade, São Tomé, São Tomé and Principe

Almada Negreiros: From Saudade to Eternity

Almada Negreiros was born in April 1893, on a farm in the interior of São Tomé. Upon discovering his origins, we believe that the luxuriant exuberance in which he began to grow oxygenated his fruitful creativity.
Center São Tomé, São Tomé and Principe

From Roça to Roça, Towards the Tropical Heart of São Tomé

On the way between Trindade and Santa Clara, we come across the terrifying colonial past of Batepá. Passing through the Bombaim and Monte Café roças, the island's history seems to have been diluted in time and in the chlorophyll atmosphere of the Santomean jungle.
Roca Sundy, Príncipe Island, São Tomé and Principe

The Certainty of Relativity

In 1919, Arthur Eddington, a British astrophysicist, chose the Roça Sundy to prove Albert Einstein's famous theory. More than a century later, the island of Príncipe that welcomed him is still among the most stunning places in the Universe.
Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique, Wildlife, lions
NP Gorongosa, Mozambique

The Wild Heart of Mozambique shows Signs of Life

Gorongosa was home to one of the most exuberant ecosystems in Africa, but from 1980 to 1992 it succumbed to the Civil War waged between FRELIMO and RENAMO. Greg Carr, Voice Mail's millionaire inventor received a message from the Mozambican ambassador to the UN challenging him to support Mozambique. For the good of the country and humanity, Carr pledged to resurrect the stunning national park that the Portuguese colonial government had created there.
Aurora lights up the Pisang Valley, Nepal.
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 3rd- Upper Banana, Nepal

An Unexpected Snowy Aurora

At the first glimmers of light, the sight of the white mantle that had covered the village during the night dazzles us. With one of the toughest walks on the Annapurna Circuit ahead of us, we postponed the match as much as possible. Annoyed, we left Upper Pisang towards Escort when the last snow faded.
Music Theater and Exhibition Hall, Tbilisi, Georgia
Architecture & Design
Tbilisi, Georgia

Georgia still Perfumed by the Rose Revolution

In 2003, a popular political uprising made the sphere of power in Georgia tilt from East to West. Since then, the capital Tbilisi has not renounced its centuries of Soviet history, nor the revolutionary assumption of integrating into Europe. When we visit, we are dazzled by the fascinating mix of their past lives.
Passengers, scenic flights-Southern Alps, New Zealand
Aoraki / Mount Cook, New Zealand

The Aeronautical Conquest of the Southern Alps

In 1955, pilot Harry Wigley created a system for taking off and landing on asphalt or snow. Since then, his company has unveiled, from the air, some of the greatest scenery in Oceania.
knights of the divine, faith in the divine holy spirit, Pirenopolis, Brazil
Ceremonies and Festivities
Pirenópolis, Brazil

A Ride of Faith

Introduced in 1819 by Portuguese priests, the Festa do Divino Espírito Santo de Pirenópolis it aggregates a complex web of religious and pagan celebrations. It lasts more than 20 days, spent mostly on the saddle.
St. Paul's Cathedral, Vigan, Asia Hispanica, Philippines
Vigan, Philippines

Vigan: the Most Hispanic of Asias

The Spanish settlers left but their mansions are intact and the Kalesas circulate. When Oliver Stone was looking for Mexican sets for "Born on the 4th of July" he found them in this ciudad fernandina
Tsukiji fish market, Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo, Japan

The Fish Market That Lost its Freshness

In a year, each Japanese eats more than their weight in fish and shellfish. Since 1935, a considerable part was processed and sold in the largest fish market in the world. Tsukiji was terminated in October 2018, and replaced by Toyosu's.
Djerbahood, Erriadh, Djerba, Mirror
Erriadh, Djerba, Tunisia

A Village Made Fleeting Art Gallery

In 2014, an ancient Djerbian settlement hosted 250 murals by 150 artists from 34 countries. The lime walls, the intense sun and the sand-laden winds of the Sahara erode the works of art. Erriadh's metamorphosis into Djerbahood is renewed and continues to dazzle.

Man: an Ever Tested Species

It's in our genes. For the pleasure of participating, for titles, honor or money, competitions give meaning to the world. Some are more eccentric than others.
Namibe, Angola, Cave, Iona Park
Namibe, Angola

Incursion to the Angolan Namibe

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Peasant woman, Majuli, Assam, India
Majuli Island, India

An Island in Countdown

Majuli is the largest river island in India and would still be one of the largest on Earth were it not for the erosion of the river Bramaputra that has been making it diminish for centuries. If, as feared, it is submerged within twenty years, more than an island, a truly mystical cultural and landscape stronghold of the Subcontinent will disappear.
sunlight photography, sun, lights
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Natural Light (Part 2)

One Sun, So Many Lights

Most travel photos are taken in sunlight. Sunlight and weather form a capricious interaction. Learn how to predict, detect and use at its best.
Thira, Santorini, Greece
Thira Santorini, Greece

Fira: Between the Heights and the Depths of Atlantis

Around 1500 BC a devastating eruption sank much of the volcano-island Fira into the Aegean Sea and led to the collapse of the Minoan civilization, referred to over and over again as Atlantis. Whatever the past, 3500 years later, Thira, the city of the same name, is as real as it is mythical.
Puerto Rico, San Juan, walled city, panoramic
San Juan, Puerto Rico

The Highly Walled Puerto Rico of San Juan Bautista

San Juan is the second oldest colonial city in the Americas, after the Dominican neighbor of Santo Domingo. A pioneering emporium and stop over on the route that took gold and silver from the New World to Spain, it was attacked again and again. Its incredible fortifications still protect one of the most lively and prodigious capitals in the Caribbean.
Sampo Icebreaker, Kemi, Finland
Winter White
Kemi, Finland

It's No "Love Boat". Breaks the Ice since 1961

Built to maintain waterways through the most extreme arctic winter, the icebreaker Sampo” fulfilled its mission between Finland and Sweden for 30 years. In 1988, he reformed and dedicated himself to shorter trips that allow passengers to float in a newly opened channel in the Gulf of Bothnia, in clothes that, more than special, seem spacey.
Visitors to Ernest Hemingway's Home, Key West, Florida, United States
Key West, United States

Hemingway's Caribbean Playground

Effusive as ever, Ernest Hemingway called Key West "the best place I've ever been...". In the tropical depths of the contiguous US, he found evasion and crazy, drunken fun. And the inspiration to write with intensity to match.
Kogi, PN Tayrona, Guardians of the World, Colombia
PN Tayrona, Colombia

Who Protects the Guardians of the World?

The natives of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta believe that their mission is to save the Cosmos from the “Younger Brothers”, which are us. But the real question seems to be, "Who protects them?"
Mother Armenia Statue, Yerevan, Armenia
Yerevan, Armenia

A Capital between East and West

Heiress of the Soviet civilization, aligned with the great Russia, Armenia allows itself to be seduced by the most democratic and sophisticated ways of Western Europe. In recent times, the two worlds have collided in the streets of your capital. From popular and political dispute, Yerevan will dictate the new course of the nation.
Chapada dos Guimarães, Mato Grosso, Brazil, Véu de Noiva waterfall
Natural Parks
Chapada dos Guimarães, Mato Grosso, Brazil

In the Burning Heart of South America

It was only in 1909 that the South American geodesic center was established by Cândido Rondon, a Brazilian marshal. Today, it is located in the city of Cuiabá. It has the stunning but overly combustible scenery of Chapada dos Guimarães nearby.
Intha rowers on a channel of Lake Inlé
UNESCO World Heritage
Inle Lake, Myanmar

The Dazzling Lakustrine Burma

With an area of ​​116km2, Inle Lake is the second largest lake in Myanmar. It's much more than that. The ethnic diversity of its population, the profusion of Buddhist temples and the exoticism of local life make it an unmissable stronghold of Southeast Asia.
View from the top of Mount Vaea and the tomb, Vailima village, Robert Louis Stevenson, Upolu, Samoa
Upolu, Samoa

Stevenson's Treasure Island

At age 30, the Scottish writer began looking for a place to save him from his cursed body. In Upolu and the Samoans, he found a welcoming refuge to which he gave his heart and soul.
Cahuita, Costa Rica, Caribbean, beach
Cahuita, Costa Rica

An Adult Return to Cahuita

During a backpacking tour of Costa Rica in 2003, the Caribbean warmth of Cahuita delights us. In 2021, after 18 years, we return. In addition to an expected, but contained modernization and hispanization of the town, little else had changed.
Boat on the Yellow River, Gansu, China
Bingling Yes, China

The Canyon of a Thousand Buddhas

For more than a millennium and at least seven dynasties, Chinese devotees have extolled their religious belief with the legacy of sculpture in a remote strait of the Yellow River. If you disembark in the Canyon of Thousand Buddhas, you may not find all the sculptures, but you will find a stunning Buddhist shrine.
Chepe Express, Chihuahua Al Pacifico Railway
On Rails
Creel to Los Mochis, Mexico

The Barrancas del Cobre & the CHEPE Iron Horse

The Sierra Madre Occidental's relief turned the dream into a construction nightmare that lasted six decades. In 1961, at last, the prodigious Chihuahua al Pacifico Railroad was opened. Its 643km cross some of the most dramatic scenery in Mexico.
Margilan, Uzbekistan

An Uzbekistan's Breadwinner

In one of the many bakeries in Margilan, worn out by the intense heat of the tandyr oven, the baker Maruf'Jon works half-baked like the distinctive traditional breads sold throughout Uzbekistan
Daily life
Arduous Professions

the bread the devil kneaded

Work is essential to most lives. But, certain jobs impose a degree of effort, monotony or danger that only a few chosen ones can measure up to.
Boat and helmsman, Cayo Los Pájaros, Los Haitises, Dominican Republic
Samaná PeninsulaLos Haitises National Park Dominican Republic

From the Samaná Peninsula to the Dominican Haitises

In the northeast corner of the Dominican Republic, where Caribbean nature still triumphs, we face an Atlantic much more vigorous than expected in these parts. There we ride on a communal basis to the famous Limón waterfall, cross the bay of Samaná and penetrate the remote and exuberant “land of the mountains” that encloses it.
Full Dog Mushing
Scenic Flights
Seward, Alaska

The Alaskan Dog Mushing Summer

It's almost 30 degrees and the glaciers are melting. In Alaska, entrepreneurs have little time to get rich. Until the end of August, dog mushing cannot stop.