Archive for the ‘São Tomé and Principe’ Category

All right. This one was a minor prize for a failed day. We hired a local guy hoping he could lead us to the ruins of an abandoned hospital in one of the most remote parts of São Tomé. That would be somewhere in the trail called “volta da ilha”, which completes the never ended road around the island. However I always had doubts of the ability of this guy to show us the right way. I decided to give it a try anyway. Worst case scenario, I would had spend 10 Eur for a pointless hiking in the jungle, but nevertheless, a hiking in the jungle would always be fun.

Well, that’s what happened. We walked in a circle for 4 hours or so. The GPS counted 6 km of jungle walk. Finally we were back to the car. The guy was obviously ashamed by his failure to show us the hospital. But he had something. Another hospital, not so remote, not so interesting, but equally abandoned and easier to access. So we went and found this one, not far from Santa Catarina, the last village along the National Road 1.

As so many other Santomean villages, Santa Catarina used to be a plantation during the Portuguese times. And as any considerable plantation, it had a hospital.

We left the main road, drove a couple of kilometers up hill, saw a few policemen (which made our “guide” a bit nervous) and finally the guy said I should park the car and walk the last bit. As we started walking, another fellow joined us, a young man with a friendly face, obviously a coconut tree climber. So this fellow discretely joined our party.

When we reached the hospital we immediately met a group of men preparing “aguardente de cana”. Friendly people. And from there I started exploring the abandoned hospital, always escorted by the “coconut tree climber” who explained me the little he knew about the place, amd made sure I wouldn’t miss a bit. He even showed me the church, located about 100 meters from the hospital building. The church is not in use but then it’s not abandoned. The door is locked and although the building is not in a bright shape, it’s not falling apart.

So, as a minor prize for the day it wasn’t such a bad experience. The hospital is slowly being embraced by the jungle. There are trees growing inside and bushes everywhere. Smashed bricks everywhere. Impressive spot. In our way back we stopped to wash the boots with the water of a stream and we met a woman there, doing her washing. She told us her first kid was born in the old hospital.

Coordinates:   0° 15.602’N   6° 28.124’E  (check this on Google Earth and you will see how much the structure was already taken by the jungle)

 

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Roça de Água Izé (“roça” is the designation for a large plantation in a Portuguese colony) is the first one will find while driving from the city towards south. Some of its facilities were built near the road, namely the storage buildings, where goods would wait to be loaded into one of the ships coming to pick them, in their way to Europe.

Nowadays Água Izé is a village, which is what most of the old plantations became. A poor village with sad inhabitants. Most of the folk here, unlike in other part of the island, came from Cape Verde islands and still speak a form of Creole, although they can speak fair Portuguese. As in everywhere else in the country, kids are suckers for pictures. They will ask you for taking them a picture, and then to show them the results in the LCD of your camera.

Actually I had been here before, only I forgot to visit one of the most interesting spots in Água Izé, the old hospital. As my host in São Tomé generously handled me his car keys for the day, I took the opportunity to return to the village and look for the decadent building. In my quest I had the help of a bunch of local kids, boys and girls eager to step out of their routines, with some hope of getting a gift (candies, pens, notebooks, whatever…), but ready to help the visitor even without a reward.

The flock of “little sparrows”, flying around me, showed the way to the hospital. The location is obscure, a bit out of the village, on the top of a hill, offering great views to the buildings down and to the sea.

At this point I would like to advise you an exhaustive article about Água Izé (in Portuguese – use Google Translator if needed) here:
http://stparquitecturarte.blogspot.pt/2009/11/agua-ize-praia-rei.html

Actually there are two hospitals. The first one, built in 1914, still have people living in it and therefore I didn’t visit it. The second one, which actually comes first when you walk from the village is mostly deserted (I suspect there is still somebody living there) and was built probably in 1928. Due to the high number of workers (2500 Africans and 50 Europeans) the hospital was upgraded and new rooms were gradually built.


Well, this is it folks. Enjoy the pictures. And let me show you the exact location of the hospital:   0° 13.065’N   6° 43.498’E