Grocery Shopping in Malabo

As I mentioned in a previous post, one of our greatest challenges right now is getting into the city to buy food. It’s also becoming one of our most favorite activities! We get to practice our Spanish, interact with new people, and learn a little bit more about life in Equatorial Guinea.

On more than one shopping trip, we have found items in the markets that we did not recognize.  When you ask what something is, you generally get a “seriously??” face and then a response in the tone of “duhhh“.

Most of the time learning what the item is called isn’t all that helpful, since I don’t have a very deep glossary of Spanish vegetables.   So then we ask, “fruit or vegetable?” “Duhhh, it’s a ________“.  Oh, right.

So then we usually ask how to cook whatever it is, buy a couple, and go home to try it.   At work, I describe the mystery produce to the local staff who then give me the “it’s similar to _________” translation (if they can even figure out what I’m describing, that is).


Still not 100% sure what these are. The guys at work said they call them pears in Nigeria.

On Friday, a coworker arranged an outing to the hydroponic farm just outside the city. The farm is run by South Africans, I think.  They grow produce and sell it in bulk to local restaurants.  A few days a week, you can show up and buy whatever is ripe by the kilogram. We left our first trip with 3kg of tomatoes, 2kg of green peppers, and 1kg of cucumbers. They also grow lettuce, spices, and a pretty large variety of other peppers. I can’t wait for our second trip!


Cormac with the tomatoes. Everything is strung up to grow tall and narrow. Some of the plants were over one year old!


They are having trouble growing this lettuce because it never gets cold enough to trigger the plants to grow into heads.


Natural pesticide: marigolds!


A 40′ shipping container, air conditioned, and filled with fresh produce. Pretty much heaven!

On the way back home, we stopped in a small town to pick up some plantains. Cormac spotted some coconuts and wanted to give them a try.  One of the biggest differences in grocery shopping in Malabo, is that there isn’t really a one stop shop.


Bananas grow like weeds here!


Outside of the village where we stopped to buy coconuts.


Plantains and hot peppers. Every house in the village was selling something a little different, so you had to wander around to find what you were looking for.

A typical shopping trip takes you to at least three stores. There are three or four grocery stores in Malabo, but none of them have everything, and they all sort of specialize in something.  So far, we have ventured to two grocery stores, four produce markets, and one bread store. We can’t wait to see what else is available and see other parts of the city!



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