Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Daily Life in Sao Tome

So far our day to day life has been much different than expected. The sun rises around 5 and sets at 6. We can accomplish actual work from around 9 until noon and 2 until 3:30 or 4. The rest of the time people are at home.

A lot of our day is spent figuring out what to eat and when to make it. Nearly everything here is imported so to save costs we go to the open markets to get the best prices. There is a general goods market where we can get any produce which is locally grown and there is a fish market to get anything from the sea (we had barracuda last night). Once we go to all the markets and find what we want (we do this everyday because our refrigerator is too small) we need to bring it home and prepare everything: gut the fish, season the fish, chop the vegetables, cook the vegetables, etc. Eating has become a full time job.

To help with the extra time life takes in Sao Tome and to give back to the economy we have hired several people around our house. We have hired a housekeeper who comes on MWF to do laundry, clean around the house and cook (if we’re home). When we moved in our house had been vacant and neglected for a year so we hired someone to clean up the yard, when he was done he asked if he could stay on as our gardener so we agreed. We also hired a night watchman and he is about the scariest person ever. It gets dark around here and with his dark skin it is impossible to see him at night. One of the first nights the power went out and Corey and I were near the front gate and I said, shouldn’t the watchman be here by now? At that time we took another step towards the gate and from inside our walls a man appeared and opened the gate thinking we wanted to leave. He had been there for a while without us knowing and I nearly wet my pants.

At night we have been relaxing playing cards (last night it was hearts and Danielle is going to teach us rummy later) or watching TV episodes and movies we have on our computers. If we want to get online we can walk 3 blocks to the national library and sit out front but the mosquitoes prohibit prolonged usage.

Another bit about African mosquitoes; while they may carry deadly diseases, their bites are way less annoying and I only get a small dot of a bump that goes away by the next night. In the US I get obnoxious bites which itch for days.

-XO Mike


  1. "Obnoxious bites which itch for days" lol.

  2. Where/how did you learn how to gut a fish? You mean they're not all prettily laid out on a styro tray with a little piece of parsley for garni? I'm very impressed.

    How will your daily schedule affect your ability to get all the work done that you had planned?

    Could you take some pictures of your house, the night watchman, etc?

    Ron (from across the street) finished the deck, downspouts and attic clean-up today. The squireels are no longer residents at 205. They'll have to find a new home.

    It's very hot here and will be again tomorrow. I suspect your days are pretty nice with an ocean breeze.

    Looking forward to hearing from you again.

  3. Michael, I wasn't prepared for what an amazing adventure you'd have! I love reading your blog and envisioning what you are doing.

    Curious, how much is your hired help/day in US dollars? I bet it's affordable!

    Love you and miss you. I'm thrilled you're having a great time.

    P.S. I've been having some good interviews at West Sub's Emergency Department...hopefully I'll have a job by August!

  4. We didn't gut the fish. One of our contact's girlfriend gutted it one night and our housekeeper has done it two other nights (including crab last night, SOOOOOOO good!!!!).

    Our schedule is still on track. We planned a whole week for about three meetings.

    I'll work on the pictures.

    That's good that the 205 Animal hotel is shut down.

    I won't miss hot Chicago summers this year. I'll take a block walk down to the ocean and a nice sea breeze anyday. :-)

    We don't pay our help until we leave and I don't know what we will pay but Ana Maria, our housekeeper, will get a large amount while our gardener's tasks will go away once the yard is back in shape.

    We met a Taiwanese surgical team today who is trying to improve the care of the hospitals and clinics here over the next year. They walked into our cafe with pajamas on. :-)