After three days at sea, the islands of São Tomé and Principe appeared soon after sunrise. The islands are located in the Gulf of Guinea off the northwestern coast of Gabon, West Africa. San Tome was named by Portuguese explorers who arrived on St Thomas's feast day, and Portuguese is the language here spoken today.
The islands are part of an extinct volcanic range with rich soil. They are covered in lush tropical greenery surrounded by the dark blue and azure of the the sea. In the early morning, fisherman in colorful small boats seek a living from the abundant waters surrounding the islands. These are the colors of some Caribbean islands, Hawaii, and Marco Island, bold colors you will see later on my palette.
I did not find a painter to speak with, but learned there is a vibrant community of handcrafters who use local materials of shell and fish bone to make jewelry. The white skirt and blouse of traditional clothing is also handmade, but the beautifully patterned headscarves worn by most everyone are not made on the islands but on the African mainland.
The atmosphere is rich with color, abundant vegetation, humid sea air and sunlight, in strong contrast with the dry, brown, dessert regions of Namibia, visited earlier.