São Tomé is small luscious island dropped over the equator, just outside the Atlantic coast of Africa, and kind of left there forgotten. Along with the even smaller Príncipe island form the second smallest country in Africa, one the most don’t know it even exists. It’s a Jurassic Park island, a green mountain rising from ocean, with very thick and dense tropical forest covering most of its square meters, going all the way down to the to the breaking waves in the small white sand beaches.
It was part of this tropical forest that, at some of its history, was cleared to make room for intensive plantations of cocoa and coffee, the “roças”, and thousands were taken from mainland to work on them, to feed its increasing production. At its peak dozens of these “roças” were operating, some even having small railways connecting them, but eventually almost all collapsed. Nowadays some are totally abandoned and taken over by nature, most are just inhabited, nearly all are suspended in decay, some beyond recovery.
Today life is simple and down to earth, and it happens mostly along the coast, sprawling from the capital until last small fishing village before the road ends. It happens slowly, without deadlines, taking things as they come by and not worrying too much. That laid back feeling is exactly what leve-leve is.