Well, truth be told, the island is not actually deserted, but it's pretty small, and inhabited by around 7000 incredible people. It's called Príncipe.
There was a beach though. And what a beach that is!
I first went to Príncipe on assignment for the newspaper where I spent 20 years of my life. It would be one of the last assignments for them, and, in a way, also the beginning of my life.
The newspaper had a travel magazine, and we had been invited to visit São Tomé and Príncipe. I was the one tasked with bringing back a handful of photos, as usual. I was traveling with a long time friend, nothing could go wrong.
Everything went smoothly, the country makes it easy for us. It's beautiful, the people are nice, the weather is great. The big island was pretty much what we were expecting, but the smaller one is something that I still find hard to describe.
It truly has to be seen and felt, because all the stories one might tell will always sound like a dreamer's vision to those who haven't been there.
That hasn't changed, on the contrary. It felt special then, and feels even more special now.
It was a very short trip, not even a full day spent on the smaller island. We flew in and attended a very boring presentation about the company almost as soon as the plane touched down. Locked in a freezing cold room for hours, the beach right there, yet out of reach.
By the time that ordeal ended the sun was almost done for the day, I had to run around trying to get a decent photo. I did not get it.
So I decided to wake up really early next morning, before sunrise, and maybe then I'd get a photo or two. I had around an hour before the rain came pouring down, and soon it was time to fly back. We moved to the bigger island, and had a couple more days going around. We had fun, but pretty soon our time was up.
We came back to our hometown. I found myself thinking about the island often. Some months later I left the paper. Maybe unrelated, maybe not.
The group that had travelled with us wanted to set up a dinner in town. It's a regular thing, getting together a few months after the trip. Usually it doesn't go beyond the planning part. Somehow only two people were actively trying to make this one happen. I was one of them, movieStar the other. Yes, that movieStar! By then she was a long way away from earning that nickname!
I had met her on the island, as you might have figured out by now...
She was doing the PR and Press Relations for the hotel group that had invited us there. We had spoken during the trip, and there's a dinner that is forever engraved in my brain, but she tells that story much better than I could ever do.
She was not with us most of the day, as she had better things to do, but our paths would meet all over the islands. Having lunch? She would show up with her guests. Checking in at the hotel? There she was with her guests. Flying over to the other one? Yep, she was on that plane as well...
Anyway, this dinner's date arrived, we all had a great evening, but ours was somewhat better. We started dating. Not only dating, but she moved in the next day. Not the most normal thing to do, one might argue, but it just felt right. Just like that. Some things just click, isn't that what people say?
A few more months went by. She would travel to the island frequently, while I stayed home. We found a way to join her on another trip there, working for a magazine. We spent a few weeks on the island, and I took the opportunity to propose. On that same beach.
She said yes!