So I've been in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea now for exactly three weeks...feels way longer though and in this short time I've become pretty familiar with the city. Its really small and you can go from one end of Malabo to the other in about two hours so familiarizing myself hasn't been too difficult.
Before I moved here I researched the country massively but couldn't find any first hand information about it. Most of the details I could find on Malabo were written by foreign nationals, who are not usually the most reliable sources of information.
I mean, Trip Advisor has Metisse as the best Thai restaurant in Lagos...imagine. This information was of course got first-hand from expats.
So I didn't trust a lot of what I read for obvious reasons and wanted to come experience it for myself.
Three weeks down I've gotten very fond of my new city...
The Views and The Architecture
Malabo is situated on a natural crater shaped harbor at the base of Pico Basilé (Basile Mountain) in a volcanic zone, so you can see the mountain from everywhere in the city.
It is stunning!
Every morning I wake up to see a mountain wreathed in clouds, its just so different from what I'm used to. I haven't even done that much exploring but there are tons of natural sites to visit; white sand beaches, black sand beaches, rain forests, nature reserves, mountain hikes, waterfalls...I mean. I'm not the most outdoorsy person yet I'm raring to go. The potential for tourism in this country is limitless.
The city itself is very picturesque and has retained most of its Spanish colonial architecture. So many areas could have been transplanted in entirety from some Mediterranean city, so beautiful.
IMG_8920.PNG This is an Instagram photo by Bayo Omoboriowo, President Buhari's official photographer. The President was in EG in March and Bayo shot this picture on their descent into Malabo. Love it!
24 Hour Electricity
I forgot to mention in my last post but Malabo has 24/7/365 electricity, running at full current ALL the time. Before I got here I'd actually read something about its intermittent power supply and how most of its citizens relied on generators, which of course turned out to be fa-fa-fa-foul. I can't even remember where I read that now but if I find it I'm going to message the writer and tell him/her that he/she is a big fat liar.
Last week there was some sort of glitch somewhere and power at the office went out for a couple of hours. Everybody was so frantic, running around like Chicken Little, shouting that they hadn't had a power outage in over a year. I got a lot of hard stares when people passed my desk. Its common knowledge that I come from a country where the government couldn't give a toss if your meat spoils because your freezer hasn't had power in a week. There were low mutterings about me bringing them bad luck. Had to excuse myself and go home for about an hour to allow tempers cool off, which brings me to my next favorite thing...
So business hours in Malabo are 8am-1pm and 4pm-7pm.
Basically the entire town shuts down at 1pm and re-opens at 4pm. In this time everybody goes home, picks kids from school, has long leisurely lunches, maybe even nap for a bit.
After this you're energized and you go back to work at 4pm brimming with vim and vigour. This is usually the case for stores, public buildings, most businesses really. For companies like mine, we have a shorter siesta period because we close on the dot of 5, so ours lasts just an hour. My house is so close to the office though that if I have a light work load most of the time I go home, eat, nap and come back to the office later.
Its like a dream to be honest.
This is regular ass red peppers, but they turn it into a sauce and do something to it here that makes it taste phenomenal. Its so amazing, you get a bowl of picante at any restaurant you go to with every meal. As a pepper loving Igbo girl, trust and believe that I'm on that tip daily. Even the finest of dining restaurants serve you picante with everything.
I don't think I'm portraying the awesomeness properly here even, you have to taste it to understand.
Its so popular that the Heinz ketchup with picante is sold here. I've only ever seen Heinz with chili and that was in the UK, not even in Nigeria. This is only the 2nd time in my life I'm seeing it.
and in keeping with the food theme....
There's plantain in Nigeria I know, but the plantain consumption here is on a different level. Fried plantain is to EG what jollof rice is to Nigeria, its pretty much the staple food here.
Like in Nigeria you can't get plantain at regular fast food places or really nice restaurants, but here its EVERYWHERE. Hotels, the best restaurants, roadside koro's, fast food joints, as bar snacks, always accompanied by a bowl of picante of course.
Platano es vida
Its Easygoing Nature
I don't know if its because everywhere is so close and there's only 300,00 people in the whole city so they don't have to struggle with traffic or because they get to sleep for 3 hours in the middle of the day, but everybody is so languid and easy going and things just get done a little slower. Its very unlike me to like a milder pace of things, what with being a typical Lagos girl with my love of its frenetic nature. But since I've been here I've become a little less angry, definitely calmer, less stressed and I guess its due to the fact that no one here is in a rush. I've come to appreciate a more languid pace in life. If I keep this up I might not be able to drive properly in Lagos anymore since you need to be Mad Max to survive on our streets.
Coming to Malabo I was really excited to learn Spanish, still am, even though I'm now learning from the school of life and not Duolingo anymore, but I didn't realize that I might pick up some other languages too.
Malabo has a massive expat population, people from all over the world speaking several languages. Equatorial Guinea itself has 3 official languages; Spanish, French and Portuguese...with Spanish being the official language. Most people can speak all three, plus a bit of English.
So you can have conversations taking place with people speaking up to 3,4 languages at once, any one you understand you'd just be responding to. Most of the time I conduct entire convos with people who speak a bit of everything and with my broken Spanish and French and their broken English we can honestly yap away for ages. Its helped me pick up a bit more French, very minimal Portuguese and surprisingly Hebrew.
Its a real life Tower of Babel and I love it.
I was VERY fortunate to land smack bang in the midst of super friendly people. I'm not the friendliest person and having to initiate new attachments or conversations are not very easy for me. I think this is probably why 99% of my friends are very gregarious and every outgoing people, therefore they were able to bring me out of my shell and basically impose friendship on me. If I met someone else like me...no poss. We'd just side-eye ourselves and keep it moving. But I seem to attract pretty insane, lovely people and Malabo is no exception.
Literally from Day 1 I fell in with a great crowd of people and I'd be lying if I said they hadn't helped to make my transition much easier.
photo credits: www.enjoyequatorialguinea.com, www.bbc.co.uk, www.love2fly.iberia.com