Tip #1021: My Equatorial Guinea Adventure: Touring Malabo

I just returned from a two-hour car tour of Malabo. We went by the National Park, and I would have loved to walk there, but I wasn’t able to communicate with my driver. I had also wanted to walk downtown, but that didn’t happen either.

So, I took a LOT of photos from the car.

The trees in the parks are flat at the top- I imagine they use ladders to reach the tops. It’s the same at the hotel. They create a lovely geometric pattern.

On every major thoroughfare there is a billboard with the picture of the President, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, looking very stern in a dark suit and red tie.

Most of the people I saw were wearing Western clothing. Every now and then I would see a woman with her hair tied in a color kerchief and wearing a colorful flowing African patterned dress. I saw a woman with a baby on her back, tied there with a huge piece of cloth. And I saw several people, including a small boy, carrying large barrels or packages on their heads.

There are small (shops implies something much larger) offerings of vegetables, fruit, dead rabbits, and large fish) under large red umbrellas on the sides of the road.

There are also streets lined with covered shops selling clothing, shoes, handbags, and food.

The downtown is very busy, with large buildings made of tile, concrete, and glass. These stores are upscale, and there are restaurants and discotheques, a museum, and the university building. Passing what must have been a high school, there were many students, so school is offered on Saturdays.

In one large park, there were at least four soccer games going on.

We drove through what must have been the wealthy part of town, with gates and fences topped with barbed wire. There were several neighborhoods with simple homes with red tile roofs and other neighborhoods with blue tile roofs.

Next, at least to my mind, were high rises. And then there were shanties, with high piles of garbage next to the street.

There seems to be a pharmacy in each neighborhood.

We drove along the coast (Atlantic Ocean), and I saw some huge cargo ships. The port area was full of enormous colored crates.

I didn’t mention that I did get to go to three banks. The driver wanted 12000 central African francs, which was approximately $21 USD. I had $20 bills, but no $1s and he wanted the entire amount, so he took me to ATMS.

The first had no money, the second I couldn’t make work, so we walked up to a third. There we found a lovely woman who walked us back to the second ATM and showed me how to use it (I hadn’t been using the international ATM).

She was very concerned that I got what I needed and knew how to do it in the future. She offered me her phone number so she could help me, which was so gracious and kind of her. I explained that I was only there for the day and thanked her.

After an hour and a half, the wind came up and the rain came down, so we headed back to the hotel. Then the rain, with thunder and lightning, began in earnest.

I arranged for a shuttle to the airport for tomorrow. It is only 10 minutes away.

I realize that I haven’t said a lot about the food. Our lunches were in the dining room, where there were at least 10 platters lined up with various meats (pork, beef, lamb, and/or chicken) in sauces, rice, pasta, sometimes steamed vegetables, and potatoes or plantains.

There were bread and rolls, cold salad ingredients, platters of mango, watermelon, pineapple, and the best oranges I’ve ever tasted. There were also a variety of deserts, from puddings to pies to small square pieces of chocolate cake, and even macaroons on some days.

Most of the participants had juice with their meal as well as bottled water.

(I’ve had to use bottled water to brush my teeth).

Tomorrow, I head home. I will still have the 7-hour layover in Chicago, despite asking if I could just end my flight in Chicago and rent a car to go home to Madison. The answer was NO.

Jenny, my daughter, tried for hours to get my TSA Precheck number onto my boarding passes for Ethiopian Air, with no success. From what I read online, the precheck number only works with flights from the US, not to the US.

I’ll try my luck when I sign in at the airline counter, but I don’t have much faith I’ll be able to avoid unpacking everything again when I go through security checks.

May your learning be sweet.


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