Day 8: Highlights and Good-byes

11/22 20:30 (GMT+1)

Dear readers,

I write to you from the departure terminal of the Malabo airport. It feels inappropriate to begin today's post with my typical exclamation point, since the end of our day has been quite sad. Saying goodbye to our new friends was tough for all of us, but we're glad to have made a significant contribution to the future of Equatoguinean chess through our visit. Slight tangent: here, the locals almost always say "Guinean" rather than "Equatoguinean", except when speaking in an official capacity. This observation is not terribly relevant to the point I was trying to make, but hopefully, it is at least interesting.

Anyway, today! It's been a long and crazy day, and I'm not even sure where to start recounting it. I suppose I should start at the beginning. Seth, Sean, Duncan, and I, accompanied by my father, were picked up at 7:30 this morning by Federico to head to a live TV interview. For 45 minutes Seth, Federico and I ap…

Day 6 + 7: Bata and "Bush"

11/21 23:00 (GMT+1)

Hi everyone! Apologies for the delay in posting -- as anticipated, yesterday got very tiring very quickly. We left the hotel at 5:30 AM to fly to Bata, where we spent the day visiting schools, attending meetings, and seeing the interior of the country. I realize that some context might be helpful here. Throughout our stay in EG, we have been based in Malabo, the capital, which is located on Bioko Island in the Gulf of Guinea. Bata, the country's largest city, is located on the mainland. Interestingly, Malabo is actually closer to Cameroon than the rest of the country, an oddity that can be attributed to the checkered history of the colonization of Africa by European powers throughout the past 350 years. I've included a map of EG below.

Okay, moving on to what we actually did in Bata! To save time and prose, I've opted to switch things up and write a list (like I hear all the cool bloggers are doing these days). I'll expand on any points below as is …

Day 5: Malabo Meetings and Relaxation

11/19 21:30 (GMT+1)

Hello dear readers!

Hope you're all doing well. After the excitement generated by the 1st Equatoguinean Open this weekend, we took things a bit slower today. We started our morning with a visit to the U.S. Embassy, where we had the opportunity to meet with the Ambassador herself to discuss possibilities of working with the Embassy to further EG chess. They also provided us with some great ideas, useful knowledge, and potential contacts that we will follow up on. On a personal note, the interior of the Embassy was really interesting -- after our visit, many of us were considering careers in the Foreign Service (parents included)!

Our visit to home territory was followed by a visit to the Spanish Cultural Center of Malabo (CCEM), a unique space for study, play, and various educational workshops, owned and operated by the Spanish government. Seth, Federico and I met with CCEM leadership, while the parents, capably led by Sean and Duncan, took a tour of the facilit…

Days 3 + 4: The First-ever International Tournament in EG!

11/18 23:30 (GMT+1)
Hi everyone!

Hope all's well with you guys. Apologies for not posting yesterday -- we had a late night, and I figured that both Saturday (Day 3) and Sunday (4) were part of the same event: "El Primer Abierto Ecuatoguineano de Ajedrez". This exciting event at the Hilton in Malabo brought together eleven Guineans, one Spaniard, and two Americans (Sean and Duncan) to play a two-day tournament in two phases.    I will take this opportunity to briefly explain the format of the tournament. We began on Saturday with an opening ceremony attended by media outlets, governmental and Embassy officials, and sponsoring companies. After various introductory remarks were made and the rules and form of the tournament explained, the players were off! Phase 1 consisted of a 14 -player single round-robin (everyone plays everyone) with a time control of 10 minutes for each player. After the round-robin, the top eight players were placed into Division A for Phase 2, while…

Day 2: Malabo

11/16 23:00 (GMT+1)

Wow, it has been an amazing (and exhausting) day! Today was our first day here in Malabo, a verdant city with incredible colonial-style architecture and rolling hills.

After Colegio Buen Pastor (the Baptist school), we went for a meeting with the President and Vice-President of the Olympic Committee of Equatorial Guinea (COGE) to discuss government support for the Equatoguinean National Chess Association (ANAGE), our main partners on this trip. Meeting with EG government officials for the first time provided some great opportunities to practice our formal Spanish, and to learn more about how the government works in EG. 

After meeting with COGE, we met with the Principal of the French school here in Malabo. After an extensive discussion, we all feel that there is strong potential for a partnership between ANAGE and the French school, and we may even see some students and families at the Open tournament tomorrow! They will also send five students to next week's Fes…

Day 1B: Arrival at last!

11/15 23:50 (GMT+1)
On the evening of Thursday, November 15, 2018, the first-ever delegation from Catlin Gabel Chess arrived in Malabo. As we stepped off of the breezeway, we were received warmly by Federico:

And soon, we were introduced to Pedro Nguema, the President of ANAGE. There to film our reception were reporters from TVGE, the national media platform. Once our entire group had deplaned, we took a few more photos and were led to a VIP lounge. There, Seth and Avi were asked to give an interview to the journalists to air tomorrow morning. Personally, I hope we're able to get a copy, as I'd love to see how my Spanish held up to 28 hours of travel. But overall, our arrival was magnificent!

Day 1: A German Scare

11/15 18:20 (GMT +1)

Greetings from a Lufthansa plane parked at the Lagos airport! It’s been a LONG 26.5 hours of travel, but we only have 1.5 to go, at least. Since our last posting,  we’ve spent the vast majority of our time airborne after a very… hectic connection in Frankfurt. More on that later. Since we’ve been travelling for more than a day, and we have to hit the ground running tomorrow morning (EG time, GMT+1), some of us have been trying to sleep at least a little bit. So without further ado, I present … the Sleep Tracker!

Sleep Tracker:
Avi: 4 hours
Duncan: 4 hours
Julie: 0 hours
Neil: 2 hours
Roza: 3 hours
Saurabh: 8 hours
Sean: 8 hours
Seth:  7 hours
Vitaly: 0 hours

In summary, most of us have some catching up to do tonight. Anyways, back to the Frankfurt story. As I forgot to mention in our last blog post, the reason we had so much time in Vancouver was that our flight from YVR to Frankfurt was delayed by about 2.5 hours. The positive side of that was our enjoyable stay …