Principe: Roca Sundy

Before the independence from Portugal in 1975, São Tomé and Principe was the world’s leading producer of cocoa, making at one time 75% of the global supply. Both islands were covered by large cocoa and coffee plantations, known as “roca”. The plantations usually had large manor houses and also housing for workers, schools, hospitals – entire mini-villages. After independence, the Portuguese left and the rocas were nationalized by the socialist-leaning government and most land and plantations were abandoned while squatters lived in the houses and cultivated tiny plots of land for subsistence agriculture. Sadly, almost nothing has changed since – the country is still poor and imports nearly 95% of its food needs despite having abundant and fertile soil. Some of the rocas are being slowly converted into boutique hotels, like part of this Roca Sundy, but for the most part – its still the scenery of old colonial buildings slowly falling apart and being consumed by the jungle.