I made it…….safe and sound. However, my first hour in the country was quite stressfull. I didn’t see the driver, (there was no one standing with a sign that had my name or company on it) that was there to pick me up and the airport is rather small. Some local kids took my bag “for” me. I was then escorted outside where I had to stand and wait while the kids (about 18 – 20 yr old) was demanding money. He moved my bags the distance from the luggage claim, through customs, to the curb, which happened to be all of about 50ft. I gave him $3 which is the equivelant to 3,000 CFA. There was an obvious communnication gap and he didn’t like this money, he wanted more. Then his buddies showed up, 1 older, 1 younger and they all wanted money. Still no driver, it was dark, no police and nobody that spoke great english and I don’t speak very good espanol. I gave him $5 and tried to call somebody. I finally got in touch with HR back in Houston and told them I needed a driver quick. More “kids” started showing up, the leader wanted $20 and he didn’t do anything. So at this point I took my bags, placed them behind me and up against the wall so nobody could grab them or get behind me. I stood up (a good 6 inches above the tallest one) and said to them, in spanish, that I had no more money for them and for them to leave. All but the leader left. Finally, after 30 minutes the driver showed up and we started leaving. The leader asked to carry my bag, which was very heavy, 50lbs, he grabbed it and had a hard time carrying it. We got to the car (about 50 yards away) and now he felt he did enough work for the $15. I gave him $3 and we left to him yelling things in spanish that I have only heard in action movies.
The driver then drove me all of about 1/2 mile to the hotel…..If I would have known that it was that close I would have walked. Oh well…..at this point I have been up for over 30 hrs and didn’t care about anything except sleep, which came fast.
The trip improved greatly after that! In fact, this place is way better than I expected!
Here are some pics from the hotel…the Hilton in Malabo. Which is very nice, by any standard. More pics will come later…