Bata, Equatorial Guinea

Watch the city grow vertically with new-found oil money. Bata is a town under construction. The influx of American oil money has finally reached Rio Muni’s shores, and electricity, new roads, streetlights, a manicured (and somewhat sanitised) waterfront, and plenty of American oilmen are there to prove it. Dozens of new buildings are going up in expectation of a richer, more Westernised future. There’s still plenty of traditional Africa to be seen in Bata, including many small markets selling the usual second-hand clothes, African dresses, fruits and vegetables, fish, and, of course, plastics.

Still at times the place can feel a bit like a ghost town – years of a low birth rate in Equatorial Guinea has kept the population small – but at night the streets come alive. Take a disco nap if you’re planning on hitting the nightspots, as they don’t start jumping until late. Don’t forget a stop at the snail-paced Ministro de Turismo for your requisite tourist papers (around US$50). Bomé is a popular beach, full on Sundays with oilmen and other Westerners.

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