Well, this morning was my first trek into the city of Malabo. Unfortunately, I do not yet have any pictures to show – I was cautious about the acceptance of photo-taking in town and as such, erred on the side of caution.
According to the husband, the restriction on photo-taking relates to government and official buildings – so provided I do not inadvertently capture something I shouldn’t, I will try again next time! It is of course, also a question of courtesy in accidentally photographing locals who are just trying to do their weekly shopping, and also increases my “tourist” status which is already enough of a highlight given my albino disposition.
The lady who accompanied me to town (another “spouse” who has been here only a few months) booked the compound’s mini-bus and we proceeded to drive around to what I suspect was every supermarket in Malabo. The product range within the supermarkets is more than adequate – they contain recognisable Western brands (much to the delight of the Americans) as well as some Asian and Middle-Eastern products not unlike that which is available back in Oz.
Malabo itself is busy – the sidewalks are raised and the beaten-up cars travel to their own tune (or is this just because I don’t understand the road rules!). There is an abundance of cheap “junk” shops around, selling the customary Christmas decorations, unbranded toys and knick-knacks.
I would still like to have the opportunity to walk properly among the buildings. There are constant contrasts – opulent architecture behind high fences (presume these are the buildings I should avoid photographing!) pale coloured houses and apartment blocks, all within an abundance of green vegetation – growing among the tropical fruit trees. For only the second or third time since I arrived here, I properly felt like I was in a different country!
It has become regularly necessary for me to remind myself of the privileged position the husband and I have found ourselves in. It is a privilege for us to be able to live in and see this part of the world, so rarely seen by others. The compound too and the company are privileges – although we do live in an Americanised bubble (even the power outlets here are US – which comes with voltage different to Oz – imagine my dismay when my hairdryer and even the rice cooker did not function at full power!) the bubble is a means of safety and provides Westernised comfort. It is always a surprise to me when I hear complaints that a certain service or product is below standard…. when we are fortunate that such a service or product is provided at all. There are restaurants and cafes in town – many of which serve Western food. In my view, it is enough that such food is even offered – and the standard should not be criticised.
Practising my atrocious Spanish in town was another story. It is of course a language which is muy rapido and as such it is difficult to quickly grasp, understand and respond. I will however, persevere!
Tomorrow is Friday (viernes) and my plans are minimal. Gym, perhaps I will make la sopa using the cauliflower which is starting to rot in the crisper. And then I have a one on one Indian dance class with the British-Indian spouse that kindly accompanied me to town today. Given my flexibility (or lack thereof) it should be interesting!