King Alfred Becomes El Rey Alfredo… Con Mucho Carino
September 26, 2011
Alfred reflects back on his time in Equatorial Guinea
It’s me. Alfred. KING Alfred. Or… as they call me in Spanish El REY Alfredo.
Being a native of Rwanda, I speak the local Rwandan lingo Kinyarwanda as well as French and English. You know English is now the official language in Rwanda (the country aims to become the little economic dynamo of the region), and, of course my Moms speaks English.
Well, then I had to learn Spanish.
After a week in the US in late June 2010, my Moms put me back on the plane for another 24-hour traveling period, and we ended up in Equatorial Guinea. I cried the whole way over there. By the time, I got to customs, I was so exhausted I stopped crying. This was good thing because Equatorial Guinea is a tight country, and I could have gotten harrassed by the customs’ officials and barred from entering the country, even though my Moms of course had all my papers and passports together. (I got my US citizenship during my week stay in the US. I guess I’m lucky, huh?)
Well… Guys, can you believe after living in the big house in Kigali, Rwanda, with like 4 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms and all my wonderful Aunties from the Peace Corps, UN, different NGOs and countries, the US Embassy, etc., Moms and I got put in a hotel room in Malabo, EG…?
Now, Guys… is that right…?
So, Moms and I lived in a 300 sq ft hotel room for almost a year. We shared a bathroom. Now that was hard. Ever share a bathroom with your folks? And I’m fussy with my litter box. (That’s another story. See my blog on staying in a hotel with my Moms during Hurricane Irene). I have to have it clean so I would always kick out all of my poop on to the bathroom floor, and Moms would have to clean it up 3 – 4 times a day. I liked to watch my Moms clean up my mess….
She’s such a good Moms.
But after a month or so, I got used to living in the hotel room and liked it even better than Moms did. The best part was that I was the little darling of the hotel. Hotel staff never asked Moms about how she was doing. They only asked about me. The cleaning maids always wanted to see me, and when they went by my room they would call my name, “Alfredo… Alfredo… Donde estas, Alfredo?” I now had Spanish-speaking Aunties. It was great. (By the way, in case, you don’t know Equatorial Guinea is Africa’s only Spanish-speaking country. All the other African countries speak either English, Frecnh, or Portuguese in addition to local languages and regional languages like Swahili.)
Moms’ staff at work also liked me a lot. Some would stop to see me and pet me, and bring me treats. I had special friendships with some like my Tia Martina who took care of me while Moms traveled and Uncle Vic, who would invite me for a drink at the hotel bar.
Malabo, the capital city, is located on an island. And, I spent my days sitting on Moms’ suitcase looking out the window. I also learned Spanish by watching TV while Moms was away. The TV wasn’t too bad. Like, we had local EG stations, Zumba Portuguese channel from Mozambique/Angola, a channel covering French-speaking Africa, CNN, El Jazairah, TV5 (from Spain), Canal Plus (from France), and some other good stuff. Moms and I watched a lot of TV back them.
Outside my Hotel Room in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea
The receptionists at the hotel used to ask Moms whether she was married or had a boyfriend. “Well, you’ll have to ask El Rey Alfredo about that,” Moms would reply.
“Would El Rey Alfredo let you have a boyfriend?” The receptionists would ask.
“You know Alfred doesn’t like men. He had a very bad experience back in Rwanda. So, I don’t think he would be very happy if there was a man around,” Moms tried to explain.
“Alfredo es seloso (jealous)!” The receptionists cried. “Bring Alfredo down here, and we’ll talk to him. He wants all of your attention. He’s like your baby. Maybe you need to get rid of Alfredo.”
Well, Guys… I didn’t talk to those receptionist ladies for a while because they wanted to ruin things with Moms and me.