Friday, Corey, Danielle, Chika, Judy and I all went to see one of the largest plantations on the island. After negotiating a cab to drive us there (30 minute drive for $2 per person) we arrived without any guide but with the determination to talk to people and discover what was there. Our driver admitted to have family which lived and worked at the plantation and he offered to walk with us and explain the different parts of the plantation.
Within a few minutes, another worker from the plantation had joined our party showing us different parts; minutes after that we had an elder join us with keys to take and show us to the drying room. While the plantation was quite at the time, the elder told us that during September and October the plantation produces 3-4 tons of cocoa per day!
The plantation used to be home to one of the best hospitals throughout Africa. The buildings now lie deserted with most of the materials being reclaimed for other uses. The hospital had many large buildings and has its own hydroelectric power plant for the plantation.
While we were exploring the hospital campus we found lots of kids playing on homemade cars which created an excellent photo opportunity. Some of the better carts included movable front wheels to allow them to steer the vehicle.
To end the trip we took a trip through the former headmaster’s house and botanical garden. The plants in the garden were fascinating: cinnamon trees, plants which retracted when touched, kola trees, and the tree which made the plantation possible, cocoa trees. We finished by taking our driver and local guide to lunch before heading back to town. It was really interesting to get an inside view into the plantation.
The plantation is now owned by the state; however most of the families which work there are the same families which were enslaved. Since the leave of the Portuguese, the plantations output has dropped severely and there is no financial aid for the workers to increase production.