Tratado Del Pardo…1778

Many history buffs are familiar with the “Treaty of Tordesillas” of 1494, which divided the newly discovered lands outside of Europe between Spain and Portugal.  Ever wonder how roughly half the population of South America speaks Spanish and the other half speaks Portuguese, and how the land is pretty much divided equally in half by Spanish speaking countries and Portuguese speaking countries… the “Treaty of Tordesillas” established the framework for that to occur.  Few people are familiar with the Treaty of the Horse, or the “Tratado Del Pardo.”  In 1778, the Queen of Portugal and the King of Spain agreed to further divide new lands in order to make up for not following the earlier “Treaty of Todesillas.”  Portugal gave a few islands off the coast of west Africa to Spain.  One of these Islands is Bioko,  formerly called Fernando Po under the Portuguese.  The Island was home to the Bubi Tribe when the Portuguese arrived and now makes up part of the country of Equatorial Guinea.  The Portuguese “gave” the island to the Spanish in 1778 and that is why Equatorial Guinea is the only country in Africa where Spanish is the official language.  

Above, the Bay of Luba, looking south near the landing site of the Spanish in 1778.

Below, a few pictures of the monument commemorating the arrival of the Spanish on the island of Fernando Po, called Bioko now by the government of Equatorial Guinea.

Below, the inscription on the monument, look closely at the “old Spanish.”

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Sofitel Sipopo, Equatorial Guinea

The Equatorial Guinean Capital City of Malabo now is home to a second Sofitel Hotel.  The Sofitel “Malabo Sipopo Le Golf” is located about 20 minutes drive north of downtown Malabo on the Island of Bioko.  In my opinion, the Hotel is probably the most beautiful one on the Island and is certainly in the most beautiful location.  The hotel of course hosts an 18 Hole Golf Course, a large swimming pool, spa with Jacuzzis, saunas and massage rooms, restaurants, conference rooms and some really incredible guest rooms and suites.  Probably the best feature is the “million dollar views” of the Atlantic Ocean! Now I must be completely honest, I have not spent the night at the Malabo Sipopo Le Golf but I was fortunate enough to get a really nice tour of the the place by Juan, the Sales Manager.  The Sipopo Le Golf is a little bit of a drive from the downtown area but in my opinion worth it!  Maybe I can save up some money and actually stay there in the next month!
   

Above and Below, the new Sofitel Malabo Sipopo Le Golf Hotel on the Island of Bioko in Equatorial Guinea.

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Into AFRICA… 2012

After about an 18 month break, I’m back in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea on the central west African coast!  On the flight from Frankfurt, Germany to Malabo, we made one short stop in Abuja, Nigeria to let off passengers and re-fuel.  The last leg of the trip from Nigeria to Equatorial Guinea only took about 45 mins and during the decent into the Malabo Airport, the volcanic mountain called Pico Basile was visible in all directions!  What a beautiful sight!  In downtown Malabo I noticed lot’s of new construction has taken place since I was last here, new hotels, new supermarkets, apartments and restaurants…. so much to explore!

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Galveston, Texas… Less Than 24 Hour Visit

On Tuesday at about noon, I boarded a plane for Houston, Texas.  By 9:30 Wednesday evening, I was back in Washington D.C.  Needless to say my first visit to Galveston was short and sweet!  I had an important meeting to attend Wednesday morning in preparation for my deployment to Africa.  I had a few hours free Tuesday evening and was able to walk around the downtown area, namely the “Strand.”  Galveston really has a nice downtown.  There are lots of wonderful 19th century stone and brick buildings that make a stroll around town enjoyable and of course there are plenty of great seafood restaurants where you can enjoy the day’s catch.  One thing I noticed was that there were quite a few vacant storefronts.  I was informed by some of the locals that after Hurricane Ike in 2008, many of the businesses that left to escape the storm have not (yet) returned.  There are numerous markers on the buildings showing the waterline from the storm surge, it looked to be at least 8 feet high… I have never been in or close to a hurricane and hope to never be!
All in all, I would definitely say Galveston is worth another visit… I just hope it will be longer than 24 hours!

Above, a view of Galveston Bay from the area around Pier 21.

Above and Below, some of the beautiful brick and stone 19th century buildings in downtown Galveston, Texas.

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Iwo Jima Memorial, 2012

I had the day off on Columbus Day so I decided to visit a few more tourist sights in the D.C. area.  It has been at least 20 years since I last visited the Iwo Jima Memorial (also called the Marine Corps War Memorial).  Unfortunately it was overcast and not the best day for taking pictures, a storm was heading up the east coast, and it eventually arrived in Washington a few hours later.  I had enough time to take a few pictures and really enjoyed seeing the “Marines in bronze” raising the American Flag on that tiny volcanic island in the Pacific more than 65 years ago.  The Island of Iwo Jima was strategically important for US Forces because once captured it would allow for an airbase close enough to the Japanese Mainland that fighter aircraft could escort the bombers.  Before Iwo Jima became a US won base, bombers were unescorted during their bombing runs to the Japanese Mainland because the fighters didn’t have the range from the closest airfields.  Over 70,000 Japanese defended Iwo Jima from an intricate network of tunnels and bunker defenses, prepared months in advance.  After a month of fierce fighting, just over 1000 Japanese defenders survived and US forces secured the island.  I know that not every conflict we are involved in around the globe will determine America’s freedom, but it’s probably safe to say that many of the battles fought during WWII did in fact hold the key to America’s freedom, thanks to all our Veterans!

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