Chinese couple with my dad (far right) and other helpers Flying Papaya
THE EARTH, THE MOTHER
Bioko, the island where Malabo is situated, is of volcanic origen. It has the most fertile land I have ever seen. Everything here grows so aggresively. The humidity is 98% year around. There are only 2 seasons here: rainy season and dry season. The dry season is during our winter and it is the best time of the year. There is no rain in the rain forest! During the rainy season (our summer) it rains every day for a couple of hours a day. This is the tropical storm season! Bioko is ideal to grow any type of crop. During colonial times (Spanish Colony) cocoa was the main cash crop because it was very profitable. The problem with this type of crop is that it is at the mercy of world market and crops that do not sell, cannot be eaten. The alternative is farming edible crops like fruits and vegetables.
With the help of some Chinese friends, my dad has been farming all types of veggies. It is an experimental farm and the produce is at all levels of experimentation...some grow better than others. He produces about 50-100 Kg of vegetables a day but he wants to raise this amount to 1000 Kg/day. It is a project that has no fanancial backing and he is currently financing it with the sales of the produce. The project needs financing so that he can better his irrigation system and expand the farm.
Believe it or not, this is one of the only fresh vegetable farms in the entire country! The future of Africa is in farming and anyone with anyone with a bit of farm knowledge or willingness to participate can contribute.
Since my last visit to Guinea, many things have change. The Oil!! Back then only natural gas deposits where being exploited. The economy has been affected greatly. New infrastructure are sprouting left and right. Paved highways, cars everywhere, lots of money circulation...This is the new Guinea. Yes, the changes are obvious but not all of them are positive. The new money has created inflation of almost 1000% in 5 years. Something that cost $10 (500 Franco CFAs = $1USD) back then, now costs $100. Something that was $100,000 is now a million bucks!!!
White collar salaries have kept up with the inflation but blue collar salaries and hourly workers have not fared so well. No matter, people seem very happy here and they are really enjoying the new situation. There is poverty but not misery. In general, I found an air of much optimism here.
You notice it from the time you enter the Malabo airport...the heat, the humidity and its great ally...uncontrollable sweat. They become your inseparable travel friends. With all the humidity, sweat does not evaporate from your body. When sweat does not evaporate, the body does not cool off. When the body does not cool off, you core temperature rises and you begin to sweat behind the ears, the chin and I think even your elbows suffer. All your pores are working over time which makes for an amazing sensation. Sometimes, I even felt high and giddy from the heat, not knowing whether to laugh or to cry.