So two weeks ago when I wrote THIS POST reminescing about all things Lagos you probably won't have guessed it was a last hurrah of some sorts.
A week after that I moved to Malabo in Equatorial Guinea.
Not Guinea Bissau, not Papua New Guinea (I've gotten a lot of these recently), but Equatorial Guinea in Central Africa, which sits pretty, right on the Equator, hence the name.
view from my office...the Basile Mountain. You can see the mountain from almost every location in Malabo. Unlike the scam that is the Eiffel Tower that Hollywood has deceived us into thinking you can see from every balcony in Paris.
I got a new job and it involved relocating to Malabo…indefinitely. Besides the fact that it was pretty much my dream job, I was up for an adventure and due for a prolonged change of scene so I jumped at it. A month and a half after I got the Offer, I was ready to pack up my life (7 suitcases) and move across the continent.
Shoutout to my company for being absolute bricks and handling my entire relocation. I had to cargo my suitcases via DHL and if I had to pay for it myself I'd have entered this country starkers. DHL was fantastic and got my stuff to Malabo in 3 days, my suitcases landed before I did even.
I also had to learn Spanish as that's the official language. Equatorial Guinea is the only Spanish speaking country in Africa. Other languages are French, Portuguese and the native languages...one of which is Igbo :)
I've been using an app called Duolingo to learn Spanish and I'd picked up quite a bit but I feel enormously betrayed, because after studying for over a month I get here and find out I've been learning Latin American Spanish, but in EG they speak European Spanish. Pissed is an understatement to be honest. There are a lot of similarities so I can grasp basic things but in the long run 'd have to learn the correct Spanish to communicate effectively here.
EG does not issue Tourist Visas so you can only come there if you’re coming to work or have some kind of business I guess…so all my plans to move my crew over here for sun, sea and sand…natch. No one can visit, not even my mother (*tears*), unless you have an American passport. Its visa free only for Americans.
I flew out of Port Harcourt because it was the only direct flight to EG, other options would have involved flying through Addis Ababa or as a friend of mine did once; he flew Lufthansa to Frankfurt, from Frankfurt to Abuja, then from Abuja to Malabo.
Basically it’s a bitch to get to.
Anyway Malabo is 35 minutes from PH. I was really bummed I didn’t get a picture of the city from the air because it was BEAUTIFUL. Picture a seaside resort from an Enid Blyton Book where the Famous Five would visit and solve some ridiculous crime and there’d be a corner shop selling ginger beer and sandwiches with bumbling adults. Well Malabo looks a bit like that from the air, without the bumbling adults. Next time sha.
The airport is small but very photogenic; it was a great first impression. I found it funny that after getting my luggage; Customs opened it up to search through. I thought that was only done in Nigeria, I need to apologize for all the racking I’ve done at Customs in Lagos over the years to prevent them from opening up my luggage.
First thing I saw when I got out of the airport…I cackled.
First impression I got of Malabo was one of extreme organization. There are obviously some not so picturesque areas as in every city, but everything you encounter as a foreigner seeing the city for the first time is pretty much fantastic. There’s no traffic, streets are clean, road network is amazing, no beggars, no hawkers, no annoying alternative vehicular traffic (read: okada and keke). Everything I’d read about the place prior to moving did not prepare me for what I saw honestly.
It’s a former Spanish colony and the Spanish influences are very evident everywhere. Not just the language, the buildings, the streets…everything. So many places could have been picked right out of a European city and dropped in Central Africa.
I got in last Monday, went to my flat, met my flatmates who are lovely and certifiable and have been showing me the best time since I've been here. Same day I got in one of my flatmates took me to the supermarket or Supermercado as they say to get some essentials. As I walked in, a wave of P-Square blasting out of the speakers washed over me and brought tears to my eyes, and then I saw these and instantly felt at home.
Went to the Hilton later that night for dinner. It might seem like I'm over-rhapsodizing about EG when I say this but the Hilton there is gorgeous. When I put it up on snapchat (LoveTWP), videos and all, everybody was asking me what exotic location I was at.
Spent the rest of my night unpacking and I brought my babies with me. I buy souvenirs from every city I go to; usually an ornament, a fridge magnet and a key-holder. I buy all three, and these have followed me from my dorm room in uni to my flat in Aberdeen, to my flat in London, to my parents house, to my flat in Lekki and now a house in Malabo.
Wonder where else we'll go.
I resumed work and when I say I lucked out in major way I am not exaggerating. I have the LOVELIEST colleagues and boss I've ever had in my professional life (no offense to everyone else I've worked with), but these people I've met here, who don't even speak the same language as I do, have gone over and beyond to make me feel safe and comfortable.
Honestly if not for the internet and phone service, this place is damn near perfect.
Yeah, the internet is supernaturally awful, I will never again say anything negative about Swift or Etisalat again for as long as I live. Compared to what I'm facing here, they should put them up for Telecom Awards. That's how unbelievably bad it is, but God dey.
Opened a bank account
and saw Nigeria Street!
Apparently tons of Nigerians live here, or own businesses on it and when I have the time, I'm going to walk down its entire length just smiling.
After work my boss took I and my other new colleague out to dinner at a place called Magno Suites.
It was initially called 'Mango Suites', then Mango the Spanish fast fashion label opened a store in Malabo and they had to change their name. I don't know why that story is funny to me but I fell about laughing when I heard it.
Magno has already become one of my staple places, the food is great, the wifi is passable, its 2 minutes from my house and I'm currently typing this post from there.
Malabo is a very expat community, the only locals I've met since I've been here are the ones that work at my office and the staff. My entire network is at least 90% expat. I feel it kind of gives me a limited view of the city. For example I'd go to all these places with my friends and all I saw were the dodgiest looking locals and I was just like "where are all the alright people". Then I twigged that if I were in Lagos and only went to Step Inn or Pat's Bar which are expat hotspots, I'd think that's what everybody in Lagos looked like. So now I'm a bit more open-minded about where I go to or people I meet.
Its also a very expensive city, because again..tons of expats, all the entertainment is geared towards the people that have dollars. For example I bought malaria medicine the other day for 68,000 CFA.
1 CFA is $500 so obviously I nearly had a coronary at the price...a coronary I'd definitely not be able to afford. I can't even afford to catch a cold here.
Also I planned to go to a beautiful island called Sipopo for Easter brunch at the Sofitel Hotel until they told me brunch cost 35,000 CFA.
Nope noppitty nope.
Pay the equivalent of about $70 for brunch? When my stomach usually closes up after rolls and soup...I wasn't having that at all.
I've learned to shop like the locals and go to markets and street vendors to buy basic stuff and not go to the supermarket for plantains for instance, which are a staple here. I bought a bunch of 10 from a street vendor for 2,000 CFA, a little over N1,000, which is about what I'd get it for in Lagos. In the supermarket thought, that would probably have been about 4,000 CFA. So since my mama didn't raise no dosgbe, I got with the program ASAP.
Another of my biggest issues has been food. I'm a very picky eater and I pretty much eat the same things over and over again (I can eat rice and plantain every single day for the rest of my life and not be bothered. My stomach is like a goldfish's memory). But a lot of things are cooked differently here, its the same staples we eat in Nigeria but cooked very differently.
Its been a struggle finding food to eat that won't make me hurl, I've narrowed down the restaurants I can eat at (will do a post later on where to eat in Malabo, if you're ever able to make it in, lol) and I've been sticking to them.
A healthy Daks is a happy Daks, make no mistake.
The week passed pretty uneventfully, just work.
Oh yeah my commute to work...glorious. It takes me about 7-10 minutes to get to work every day. Malabo is a very tiny city, about 300,000 people (isn't that just the population of Admiralty Way?) and you can get around the whole city in about 2 hours. I've never felt so well rested in my entire life. Even when I worked in VI and lived in Lekki, my commute was a struggle. It could take me almost 30 minutes to get out of Lekki in the morning then I still had to face toll-gate traffic.
Living the life right now fam.
This past Easter weekend, my colleagues and flatmates again proved to be absolute champs and took me out every single day of the holiday.
Researching the city before I moved did not reveal a lot of information about entertainment and I wasn't really banking on having any Lagos style night outs but this weekend has proven me wrong.
I have had probably one of the most intense partying experiences I've ever had here and I've partied in some pretty amazing places. A social life wasn't high on my needs coming here because the work is so intense and I work 6 days a week, but it is nice to have a balance, and nightlife in Malabo may be limited in number but it ranks very high on experience.
We went to a restaurant called L'atelier for dinner
Daks back at it again with the plantain
There was a live band at L'atelier that played mostly Nigerian songs but they didn't know the words, I guess because they don't speak English and these people boldly chopped mouth through half of the songs, I was in tears. Because their audience mostly speak Spanish or are expats from all over the world and don't know the songs they could get away with it, but unluckily for them I was in the building and just stood in front of the band judging heavily.
From L'atelier we went to an outdoor bar called Cafe Del Mar which was pretty chill. Packed to the rafters again with Nigerian music. I've heard more Nigerian music here than their own local music to be honest. Its EVERYWHERE. P-Square, Wizkid, Davido, Tiwa Savage, Korede Bello, Yemi Alade and Kiss Daniels being the current favorites. Their music is on heavy rotation all the damn time.
We started out with drinks at my Old Faithful, Magno Suites
Then went on to a Casino later, again pretty chill. I don't gamble so I judged.
Found frozen yoghurt, I was in raptures!
Went on to a pool party/barbecue where I ACTUALLY SWAM.
Yes, shocker. I've only swam at two pool parties in my whole life. My 16th birthday and my friend Achenyo's pool party last year. I don't do pools but some weird spirit was upon me on Saturday and I didn't just dip a toe or a leg, full body immersion.
Later that night we had dinner at the French Cultural Institute
and had drinks at an Irish pub called Aviator where I got yelled at in Spanish by a lady of the night and I spent the whole time mumbling "Los siento, por favor" to avoid been roughed up. I don't even know what I was apologizing for, I just didn't know how I'd explain to my boss I'd gotten beat up by a prostitute in Old Malabo. So I just apologized profusely for breathing or whatever.
and ended up at a bar called Bahia where things proceeded to get a bit hazy. Saturday was sick and my colleagues are the realest MVPs for showing me the town in a major way. I had A BLAST.
It was a major life decision to decide to pack it all in and move here indefinitely but so far I am not regretting it one bit and I'm so stoked I get to see more of Africa. It was one of my resolutions to travel within Africa more and when I made that resolution I definitely did not see this opportunity coming.
Equatorial Guinea is an amazing place to start because it is one of the most beautiful and picturesque countries in Africa and because its not open to the public a lot of it is untouched. Mountains, volcanoes, white sand beaches, camping, islands, nature reserves, its proximity to other African countries like Gabon, Sao Tome and Cameroon...
There's soo much to experience here and I've already started plotting travel moves for the year. There's no rush though, because I live here now so I can take my time and explore properly.
I've been here only a week but I am so ready for what the city and this experience will bring.
Career, life..everything is changing and I am here for it.