Last Week in Malabo

We arrived back in Malabo last Sunday, with about two weeks left to wrap up our classes and enjoy the warm weather before heading home to winter. I’ve spent much of that time doing some last minute exploration and revisiting favorite places I missed when we were in Moka and at the beaches. I will always remember the fried plantains you can get at pretty much any restaurant here, and the delicious fresh chocolate croissants from the Guinaco supermarket. It’s been nice coming back to dinner options other than rice, beans and canned vegetables, but unfortunately the ridiculous ATM fees have kept me trying to save up my last few CFA (the currency here, pronounced “say-fa”) for gifts and fun experiences. I’ve been living mostly on eggs, 10 cent loaves of bread, and cheap Senegalese rice restaurants, but we have a few places in mind for a final group dinner altogether. Either way, I am definitely looking forward to lots of fresh fruit and vegetables when I get home.

We head home Saturday night (December 6th), but our last week is filling up surprisingly fast. As for exploring new places, I visited a new area of downtown Malabo with some friends from my group, and we discovered some gift shops with art made in Equatorial Guinea. We also came across a new African restaurant with a very friendly owner, and we plan to go back some time before the week is over. I also discovered a book store that I want to stop by again to get some books written by Equato-Guinean authors.

Last night, some of us went to a Catholic mass at the beautiful cathedral in town. We had planned on meeting up with one of the UNGE students, but he was unable to make it, so we decided to check it out anyway because Catholicism is the primary religion of the country. Although I didn’t understand much of the service (probably because I don’t have much of a background in it in English either), it was still a very peaceful experience. The tall spires on the outside of the church were under construction, but the inside was decorated with lots of art and the voices of the choir were lovely to listen to. I’m not really religious, but I’ve decided I do like being in churches.

This morning we had the last field trip of our society and environment class; we visited two landfills for Malabo’s waste. The first place we visited was more of a trash pile than a real landfill. Apparently there had been some effort to build a container with a lining at some point, but it’s unclear what happened to that project. The leachate is left to stagnate in two lakes down closer to the ocean and no effort is made to treat or purify it. Basically, the entire place looked like the mountains of trash you would imagine in a post-apocalyptic environmental disaster type scene. The second facility we went to was drastically different. The waste was sorted into organic material, recyclable material, and waste that would go into the landfill. Although there are other recycling facilities on the mainland, we were informed that this type of sorting facility was the first of its kind in Africa. The landfill (which made up the fate of about 20% of the waste received) had a liner and relatively clean wastewater. The organic material (about 55% of the waste received) was composted on site. The rest of the material was recyclable, but needed to be shipped to other recycling facilities on mainland Africa and in Europe because there are no factories that can process the materials here on the island.

As for the rest of the week, I’ll be finishing up final projects and studying for exams, in between enjoying the rest of what Bioko has to offer. I am definitely looking forward to going home, but I know I’ll miss the warm breeze and laid back vibe of Bioko. I should get back to studying, but more travel reflections to come soon!

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