Lonely Planet (UK) - - São Tomé & Príncipe -

It’s Sun­day morn­ing in Príncipe’s main town, Santo An­tónio, and time has slowed al­most to a halt. If ‘léve, léve’ is easy­go­ing, the Prín­cip­ian equiv­a­lent, ‘móli-móli’, is vir­tu­ally dor­mant. A boy rolls a tyre be­side the dawdling Pa­pa­gaio River. Stray dogs pant in the shade and passers-by greet one an­other with dis­arm­ing smiles. Placid ba­bies are slung low on backs in colour­ful wraps. For a while, the only sound is a tinny med­ley of An­golan ki­zomba mu­sic from bat­tery-pow­ered speak­ers, be­fore a trac­tor rolls by car­ry­ing a troupe of trum­pet play­ers. This tri­an­gle of un­paved, pot­holed streets is tiny – but what it lacks in scale, Santo An­tónio makes up for in pocket-sized gran­deur. Di­lap­i­dated build­ings, put up when the city was both is­lands’ cap­i­tal, line the bay in el­e­gant pas­tels: a pow­der-blue school, pink gov­ern­ment house and yel­low post of­fice. Neat Por­tuguese tiles sur­round a cen­tral square of weath­ered mu­rals and empty benches. A trav­eller’s palm, its pad­dle-shaped leaves span­ning four me­tres, dwarfs the gov­ern­ment’s assem­bly. On the fringes of the town, mir­rors hang above door­ways of colour­ful stilt homes. They’re placed there to re­flect bad en­ergy – a sign of a San­tomean cul­ture that blends Chris­tian­ity with a rich seam of lo­cal rit­ual and superstition; where carved vo­tives and herbal con­coc­tions are em­braced along­side gospel choirs and beach bap­tisms.

The tiny is­land cap­i­tal of Santo An­tónio, founded in the 16th cen­tury and now home to 1,200 peo­ple A trac­tor-based troupe of trum­peters in Santo An­tónio. LEFT AND RIGHT Por­tuguese ar­chi­tec­ture along the streets

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