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.
Jabula Beach, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa
Saint Lucia, South Africa

An Africa as Wild as Zulu

On the eminence of the coast of Mozambique, the province of KwaZulu-Natal is home to an unexpected South Africa. Deserted beaches full of dunes, vast estuarine swamps and hills covered with fog fill this wild land also bathed by the Indian Ocean. It is shared by the subjects of the always proud Zulu nation and one of the most prolific and diverse fauna on the African continent.
Prayer flags in Ghyaru, Nepal
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 4th – Upper Banana to Ngawal, Nepal

From Nightmare to Dazzle

Unbeknownst to us, we are faced with an ascent that leads us to despair. We pulled our strength as far as possible and reached Ghyaru where we felt closer than ever to the Annapurnas. The rest of the way to Ngawal felt like a kind of extension of the reward.
shadow vs light
Architecture & Design
Kyoto, Japan

The Kyoto Temple Reborn from the Ashes

The Golden Pavilion has been spared destruction several times throughout history, including that of US-dropped bombs, but it did not withstand the mental disturbance of Hayashi Yoken. When we admired him, he looked like never before.
Totems, Botko Village, Malekula, Vanuatu
Malekula, Vanuatu

Meat and Bone Cannibalism

Until the early XNUMXth century, man-eaters still feasted on the Vanuatu archipelago. In the village of Botko we find out why European settlers were so afraid of the island of Malekula.
Ceremonies and Festivities
Pentecost Island, Vanuatu

Naghol: Bungee Jumping without Modern Touches

At Pentecost, in their late teens, young people launch themselves from a tower with only lianas tied to their ankles. Bungee cords and harnesses are inappropriate fussiness from initiation to adulthood.
Candia, Tooth of Buddha, Ceylon, lake
Kandy, Sri Lanka

The Dental Root of Sinhalese Buddhism

Located in the mountainous heart of Sri Lanka, at the end of the XNUMXth century, Kandy became the capital of the last kingdom of old Ceylon and resisted successive colonial conquest attempts. The city also preserved and exhibited a sacred tooth of the Buddha and, thus, became Ceylon's Buddhist center.
Beverage Machines, Japan

The Beverage Machines Empire

There are more than 5 million ultra-tech light boxes spread across the country and many more exuberant cans and bottles of appealing drinks. The Japanese have long since stopped resisting them.
Busy intersection of Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo, Japan

The Endless Night of the Rising Sun Capital

Say that Tokyo do not sleep is an understatement. In one of the largest and most sophisticated cities on the face of the Earth, twilight marks only the renewal of the frenetic daily life. And there are millions of souls that either find no place in the sun, or make more sense in the “dark” and obscure turns that follow.

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.
jet lag avoid flight, jetlag, turbulence
Jet Lag (Part 1)

Avoid Post-Flight Turbulence

When we fly across more than 3 time zones, the internal clock that regulates our body gets confused. The most we can do is alleviate the discomfort we feel until it gets right again.
Singapore Asian Capital Food, Basmati Bismi

The Asian Food Capital

There were 4 ethnic groups in Singapore, each with its own culinary tradition. Added to this was the influence of thousands of immigrants and expatriates on an island with half the area of ​​London. It was the nation with the greatest gastronomic diversity in the Orient.
ice tunnel, black gold route, Valdez, Alaska, USA
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Got2Globe Portfolio

Sensations vs Impressions

Mexcaltitán, Nayarit, Mexico, from the air
Mexcaltitan, Nayarit, Mexico

An Island Between Myth and Mexican Genesis

Mexcaltitán is a rounded lake island, full of houses and which, during the rainy season, is only passable by boat. It is still believed that it could be Aztlán. The village that the Aztecs left in a wandering that ended with the foundation of Tenochtitlan, the capital of the empire that the Spanish would conquer.
Africa Princess, Canhambaque, Bijagós, Guinea Bissau,
Africa Princess Cruise Part 1, Bijagós, Guinea Bissau

Towards Canhambaque, through the History of Guinea Bissau

The Africa Princess departs from the port of Bissau, downstream the Geba estuary. We make a first stopover on the island of Bolama. From the old capital, we proceed to the heart of the Bijagós archipelago.
Passengers on the frozen surface of the Gulf of Bothnia, at the base of the "Sampo" icebreaker, 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.
Terra Nostra Park, Furnas, São Miguel, Azores, Portugal
Vale das Furnas, São Miguel (Azores)

The Azorean Heat of Vale das Furnas

We were surprised, on the biggest island of the Azores, with a caldera cut by small farms, massive and deep to the point of sheltering two volcanoes, a huge lagoon and almost two thousand people from São Miguel. Few places in the archipelago are, at the same time, as grand and welcoming as the green and steaming Vale das Furnas.
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.
Natural Parks
Phi Phi Islands, Thailand

Back to Danny Boyle's The Beach

It's been 15 years since the debut of the backpacker classic based on the novel by Alex Garland. The film popularized the places where it was shot. Shortly thereafter, the XNUMX tsunami literally washed some away off the map. Today, their controversial fame remains intact.
Guest, Michaelmas Cay, Great Barrier Reef, Australia
UNESCO World Heritage
Michaelmas Cay, Australia

Miles from Christmas (Part XNUMX)

In Australia, we live the most uncharacteristic of the 24th of December. We set sail for the Coral Sea and disembark on an idyllic islet that we share with orange-billed terns and other birds.
Correspondence verification
Rovaniemi, Finland

From the Finnish Lapland to the Arctic. A Visit to the Land of Santa

Fed up with waiting for the bearded old man to descend down the chimney, we reverse the story. We took advantage of a trip to Finnish Lapland and passed through its furtive home.
Dunes of Bazaruto Island, Mozambique
bazaruto, Mozambique

The Inverted Mirage of Mozambique

Just 30km off the East African coast, an unlikely but imposing erg rises out of the translucent sea. Bazaruto it houses landscapes and people who have lived apart for a long time. Whoever lands on this lush, sandy island soon finds himself in a storm of awe.
Goa, India

To Goa, Quickly and in Strength

A sudden longing for Indo-Portuguese tropical heritage makes us travel in various transports but almost non-stop, from Lisbon to the famous Anjuna beach. Only there, at great cost, were we able to rest.
On Rails
On Rails

Train Travel: The World Best on Rails

No way to travel is as repetitive and enriching as going on rails. Climb aboard these disparate carriages and trains and enjoy the best scenery in the world on Rails.
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?"
Saksun, Faroe Islands, Streymoy, warning
Daily life
Saksun, StreymoyFaroe Islands

The Faroese Village That Doesn't Want to be Disneyland

Saksun is one of several stunning small villages in the Faroe Islands that more and more outsiders visit. It is distinguished by the aversion to tourists of its main rural owner, author of repeated antipathies and attacks against the invaders of his land.
hippopotami, chobe national park, botswana
Chobe NP, Botswana

Chobe: A River on the Border of Life with Death

Chobe marks the divide between Botswana and three of its neighboring countries, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia. But its capricious bed has a far more crucial function than this political delimitation.
Bungee jumping, Queenstown, New Zealand
Scenic Flights
Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown, the Queen of Extreme Sports

In the century. XVIII, the Kiwi government proclaimed a mining village on the South Island "fit for a queen".Today's extreme scenery and activities reinforce the majestic status of ever-challenging Queenstown.