Above and below, I pause briefly to take a few picture, as you can see it was pretty thick vegetation in some spots.
Below, Lake Moca, as seen from the rim of the now dormant volcano.
Below, during the descent I shot a picture to show how thick the vegetation was on either side of the trail! I can’t imagine being the first one to hack through the jungle to reach the top centuries ago!
Last weekend my African friend Francisco invited me to a party at his home. He was keen to have me meet his family and enjoy the tastes of some Portuguese dishes from is native Sao Tome and Principe. He told me to arrive anytime after 10:00 am Sunday morning and we would have lunch around noon. Francisco lives in the Ela Nguema neighborhood, about a 10 minute drive to the east of downtown Malabo, along the north coast of Bioko Island. Ela Nguema is a very interesting place, full of activity anytime of day or night. On any typical day, the small corner grocery stores are busy until the early morning hours with teenagers buying candy, a soda-pop and a 6 pack of beer for their fathers. The sidewalk bars, complete with plastic chairs and tables are a definite hub of activity, a place to get a cold San Miguel beer, a bowl of Pepe Soup and hear the latest gossip from the neighborhood! Roadside mechanics, with nothing more than an air compressor and a few hand tools, patch car tires for waiting customers. A group of children play a game of “futbol” in the street with an empty 2 liter water bottle as a family in their Sunday-best, navigate the potholes on their way to Church or a friend’s house.
I arrived at about 11:00 am and parked in front of Francisco’s home, surprised I found it without assistance, having only been there one time before to drop him off. As I exit the car, a young boy, no more than 4 or 5, says, “Oi chino…” Basically “hey china-man…” Haha…. there are so many chinese workers in Malabo that the term “Chino” or “China-man” has come to mean any non-black foreigner. Well, I am a non-black foreigner, so I’ll be “chino” for the moment. I responded “Oi amigo.” Francisco’s home is off the street a bit, up a narrow hard-packed dirt walkway. Sunday must be laundry day, a young girl helps her mother hang wet clothes on the line. Must be a large family, the weight of all the clothes stretch the line to it’s limit, almost touching the ground in the middle. A baby, in only a diaper, sits next to a mountain of laundry still waiting to be hung-out to dry, he is completely occupied with a set of skateboard wheels attached to a stick. Francisco and his wife are in the small courtyard next to their front door, preparing the meal. The first time I meet his wife she has on an apron and a large butcher-knife in her hand. She wipes her hands on her apron and apologizes for her appearance. We shake hands and she calls her daughters out of the house to meet me. After the obligatory 2-cheeked kisses, the girls return to their chores, preparing the Sunday meal. Francisco’s wife continues to chop-up the crabs for our crab soup. What can I get you to drink, asks Francisco? A coke will be fine, I thought everyone has coke….right…? Yes, as luck would have it, he quickly returns with an ice cold can of coke. The other lunch guests begin to arrive, some in jeans, some in just shorts and no shirts and no shoes. I feel better, realizing that I have not under dressed in my Levi and T- shirt combo! By noon, the small courtyard of maybe 10 ft by 30 ft in size is full of friends and neighbors, maybe 30 people or more. The meal consists of crab soup and a pork and bean stew, both very delicious! Some of the guests brought their own bottles of wine and beer, San Miguel of course. When the initial supply runs out, teenage boys scramble to the corner store for another six pack or two! African hip-hop music blasts from the small boom box in the corner of the courtyard, am I the only one who doesn’t understand the French lyrics? There seems to be an endless supply of soup, stew and beer…. after more than one bowl of each, I am full! “No mas,” Thank you! After a few hours of eating, drinking and story-telling, the drunks decide it’s time to start to dance. One over-weight guy in his mid-30s does his best African booty-shaking routine, knocking over a table in the process, causing everyone to laugh hysterically! These people are alright! By about 2:00 pm, the other guests start to depart. Many have other commitments, other parties to attend later that afternoon. Francisco and his family are wonderful hosts, I never felt like the foreigner, just one of the many friends at the party. As I get ready to leave, I thank he and his wife for a wonderful lunch and I am reminded by Francisco that … “Mi Casa es tu casa” My house is your house! Thanks Francisco for a great day!
Above, the bean and pork stew, very tasty!
Below, the scene of the party, just before the other guests arrive!