14 awesome photos from the only country in Africa where the official language is Spanish.
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Earth Day

Here’s a random fact you can use to impress people: Equatorial Guinea is the only sovereign state in Africa where Spanish is the official language.

Situated on the west coast of central Africa, Equatorial Guinea spans nearly 11,000 square miles, making it about the size of Massachusetts, and it’s home to only 1.2 million people. According to some reports, the country was the sixth least visited country in the world in 2015.

The country is gorgeous, too. It's one of many beautiful places around the world that you might not have heard of.

Don't believe me? Here are 14 photos that sum up what the country is all about:


1. Tiny fishing villages.

Every day, locals wait for the daily catch to be brought in at a beach in Annobón's Capital, San Antonio de Pale. Photo by Oscar Scafidi, used with permission.

2. 19th century colonial architecture.

La Casa Verde (“the green house”) is one of Malabo's architectural highlights and previously served as the Portuguese embassy. It was fully renovated in 2014. Photo by Oscar Scafidi, used with permission.

The country became known as the Republic of Equatorial Guinea ("Guinea Ecuatorial" in Spanish) when it declared independence from Spain in 1968. And although Spanish isn’t the only language spoken in Equatorial Guinea, years of Spanish education means the Spanish language and culture is still deeply entrenched in society.

3. Italian basilicas.

This is the Italian-designed Basílica de la Inmaculada Concepción in Mongomo. It is the second largest Catholic church in all of Africa. Photo by Oscar Scafidi, used with permission.

4. Lots of cathedrals.

The Santa Isabel Cathedral dominates the central Malabo skyline seen here from the port and was partially designed by renowned Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. Photo by Equatorial Guinea/Flickr, used with permission.

5. Ornate decorations.

The entryway leading to the interior of the Catedral de Santa Isabel in Malabo. Photo by @jbermudezm, used with permission.

6. Members of the indigenous Fang tribe.

The majority of the population is made of up the Fang tribe, but the buildings still have classic Spanish facades. This is one such example: the Cathedral in Bata. Photo by John and Melanie/Flickr, used with permission.

7. Ruins on ruins on ruins.

The remains of a Claretian mission house on Corisco, an island in the Rio Muni estuary. Photo by Oscar Scafidi, used with permission.

8. Tropical beaches with palm trees.

Malabo is tropical and lush, which means jungle-like vegetation grows alongside palm trees. Photo by John and Melanie/Flickr, used with permission.

9. Untouched white sandy beachscapes.

The luxury hotel Sofitel Sipopo Le Golf in Malabo has a quiet private beach on a botanical island, and it also houses a spa and 18-hole golf course, which are said to be the first on the island. Photo via @mary_gdsg.

The country’s landscape is made up of the mainland territory, Rio Muni, and five islands (some volcanic), including Bioko, the largest.

10. Waterfalls surrounded by lush jungles.

This is one of many waterfalls in the southern beaches of Ureca in the Gran Caldera. It’s on the southern coast of Bioko with black volcanic sand beaches, whcih is also known as a sea turtle nesting site. Photo by @janzieglerphotography, used with permission.

11. State-of-the-art city plazas.

Independence Plaza in the capital city of Malabo. Photo by @jbermudezm, used with permission.

Oscar Scafidi, the author of the Bradt travel guide to Equatorial Guinea, says his experiences visiting the country were both wild and quiet.

“To get [to new capital city, Oyala], I drove for two hours from Bata, the mainland capital on the Atlantic coastline. I approached the city on an eight lane highway, completely empty in both directions, and when I arrived I was amazed. It is very strange to find a huge, modern, empty city under construction in such a remote location.”

12. Awe-inspiring sunsets.

Arena Blanca's beach is famously beautiful with warm water and gentle currents and several hiking trails. It is the only white sand beach in Bioko island. Photo by @quineaecuatorial, used with permission.

13. Delicious snacks.

Plátanos are similar to bananas but less sweet; they are typically fried, which extracts the natural sugars. Photo by @quineaecuatorial, used with permission.

14. Incredible mountains.

Pico Basilé is the highest mountain on Bioko with an altitude of 9,879 feet. It is the summit of the largest and highest of the three shield volcanoes that form the island. Photo by @lovetwp, used with permission.

“There’s an incredible sort of mini Dubai being built in the middle of the jungle, and on the other hand it’s a paradise if you’re into animals — western lowland gorillas, forest elephants and a sea wildlife unique to the area,” Scafidi told The Guardian about his visit.

But this untouched corner of the world also reminds us that beauty is hiding behind every corner, beyond typical tourist destinations and marketing campaigns.

We just have to look for it.

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This year more than ever, many families are anticipating an empty dinner table. Shawn Kaplan lived this experience when his father passed away, leaving his mother who struggled to provide food for her two children. Shawn is now a dedicated volunteer and donor with Second Harvest Food Bank in Middle Tennessee and encourages everyone to give back this holiday season with Amazon.

Watch the full story:

Over one million people in Tennessee are at risk of hunger every day. And since the outbreak of COVID-19, Second Harvest has seen a 50% increase in need for their services. That's why Amazon is Delivering Smiles and giving back this holiday season by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Second Harvest to feed those hit the hardest this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local food bank or charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your selected charity.

Just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down...in the most delightful way.

There are certain songs from kids' movies that most of us can sing along to, but we often don't know how they originated. Now we have a timely insight into one such song—"A Spoonful of Sugar" from "Mary Poppins."

It's common for parents to try all kinds of tricks to get kids to take medications they don't want to take, but the inspiration for "A Spoonful of Sugar" was much more specific. Jeffrey Sherman, the son and nephew of the Sherman Brothers—the musical duo responsible not just for "Mary Poppins," but a host of Disney films including "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," "The Jungle Book," "The Aristocats," as well as the song "It's a Small World After All"—told the story of how "A Spoonful of Sugar" came about on Facebook.

He wrote:

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Courtesy of Macy's

Brantley and his snowman

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"Would you like to build a snowman?" If you asked five-year-old Brantley from Texas this question, the answer would be a resounding "Yes!" While it may sound like a simple dream, since Texas doesn't usually see much snow, it seemed like a lofty one for him, even more so because Brantley has a congenital heart disease.

On Dec. 11, 2019, however, the real Macy's Santa and his two elves teamed up with Make-A-Wish to surprise Brantley and his family on his way to Colorado where there was plenty of snow for him to build his very own snowman, fulfilling his wish as part of the Macy's Believe campaign. After a joy-filled plane ride where every passenger got gift bags from Macy's, the family arrived in Breckenridge, Colorado where Santa and his elves helped Brantley build a snowman.

Brantley, Brantley's mom, and Santa marveling at their snowmanAll photos courtesy of Macy's

Brantley, who according to his mom had never actually seen snow, was blown away by the experience.

"Well, I had to build a snowman because snowmen are my favorite," Brantley said in an interview with Summit Daily. "All of it was my favorite part."

This is just one example of the more than 330,000 wishes the nonprofit Make-A-Wish have fulfilled to bring joy to children fighting critical illnesses since its founding 40 years ago. Even though many of the children that Make-A-Wish grants wishes for manage or overcome their illnesses, they often face months, if not years of doctor's visits, hospital stays and uncomfortable treatments. The nonprofit helps these children and their families replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy and anxiety with hope.

It's hardly an outlandish notion — research shows that a wish come true can help increase these children's resiliency and improve their quality of life. Brantley is a prime example.

"This couldn't have come at a better time because we see all the hardships that we went through last year," Brantley's mom Brandi told Summit Daily.

Brantley playing with snowballs

Now more than ever, kids with critical illnesses need hope. Since they're particularly vulnerable to disease, they and their families have had to isolate even more during the pandemic and avoid the people they love most and many of the activities that recharge them. That's why Make-A-Wish is doing everything it can to fulfill wishes in spite of the unprecedented obstacles.

That's where you come in. Macy's has raised over $132 million for Make-A-Wish, and helped grant more than 15,500 wishes since their partnership began in 2003, but they couldn't have done that without the support of everyday people. The crux of that support comes from Macy's Believe Campaign — the longstanding holiday fundraising effort where for every letter to Santa that's written online at Macys.com or dropped off safely at the red Believe mailbox at their stores, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. New this year, National Believe Day will be expanded to National Believe Week and will provide customers the opportunity to double their donations ($2 per letter, up to an additional $1 million) for a full week from Sunday, Nov. 29 through Saturday, Dec. 5.

There are more ways to support Make-A-Wish besides letter-writing too. If you purchase a $4 Believe bracelet, $2 of each bracelet will be donated to Make-A-Wish through Dec. 31. And for families who are all about the holiday PJs, on Giving Tuesday (Dec. 1), 20 percent of the purchase price of select family pajamas will benefit Make-A-Wish.

Elizabeth living out her wish of being a fashion designer

Additionally, this year's campaign features 6-year-old Elizabeth, a Make-A-Wish child diagnosed with leukemia, whose wish to design a dress recently came true. Thanks to the style experts at Macy's Fashion Office and I.N.C. International Concepts, only at Macy's, Elizabeth had the opportunity to design a colorful floral maxi dress. Elizabeth's exclusive design is now available online at Macys.com and in select Macy's stores. In the spirit of giving back this holiday season, 20 percent of the purchase price of Elizabeth's dress (through Dec. 31) will benefit Make-A-Wish.You can also donate directly to Make-A-Wish via Macy's website.

This holiday season may be a tough one this year, but you can bring joy to children fighting critical illnesses by delivering hope for their wishes to come true.

via Twins Trust / Twitter

Twins born with separate fathers are rare in the human population. Although there isn't much known about heteropaternal superfecundation — as it's known in the scientific community — a study published in The Guardian, says about one in every 400 sets of fraternal twins has different fathers.

Simon and Graeme Berney-Edwards, a gay married couple, from London, England both wanted to be the biological father of their first child.

"We couldn't decide on who would be the biological father," Simon told The Daily Mail. "Graeme said it should be me, but I said that he had just as much right as I did."

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Blackface has a long and shameful history in this country. We think—we hope—after numerous call-outs and emotional explanations, Americans get the message: blackface is not okay. But that isn't the case, as many were re-made painfully aware, when Dr. Regina N. Bradley, a professor and critically acclaimed writer, shared the shocking auditory version of her new essay, "Da Art of Speculatin'", on Twitter.

Due to outrageous oversight, Fireside—a progressively minded short-story magazine who claim, in their About page, to resist "the global rise of fascism and far-right populism"—hired a young, white male voice actor to read and record Bradley's essay—an essay that identifies its writer, in its very first line, as a "southern Black woman who stands in the long shadow of the Civil Rights Movement."

According to the Washington Post, Rineer spoke in an accent that listeners interpreted as something that would appear in minstrel show, an American form of entertainment developed in the early 19th century, in which white people lampooned Black people, often portraying them as dim-witted and buffoonish, with stock characters including the dandy, the slave, and the 'mammy.' It's incredibly, incredibly offensive. So it's no wonder that, upon hearing the clip, a horrified Bradley fired off an outraged tweet, asking Fireside and Rineer if they honestly thought this is what she sounded like.



How could something so offensive have been approved, one wonders, especially in a year defined by reckoning with racial injustice? For the answer, look to Pablo Defendini, the publisher and editor for Fireside, who claimed, "nothing insidious in his decision… he just didn't listen to the recording before posting it."

"The blame for this rests squarely with me, as the person who hires out and manages the audio production process at Fireside," Defendini said in a statement. "In the interest of remaining a lean operation, I've been hiring one narrator to record the audio for a whole issue's worth of Fireside Quarterly, and I don't normally break out specific stories or essays for narrating by particular individuals."

"My personal neglect allowed racist violence to be perpetrated on a Black author, which makes me not just complicit in anti-Black racism, but racist as well."

As for Rineer, he regrets not breaking a contract rule and contacting Bradley directly about her work. His gut instinct told him not to proceed—that he was the wrong person for the job. Still, upon expressing his doubts to Fireside, he was ignored, and so proceeded with the recording—he'd already signed the contract.

"I made the mistake of reading Dr. Bradley's work and assuming an accent that was not representative of her voice," he said. "I had tried to find a different narrator who would be a suitable representative in my network and via public forums, to no avail, in the week-long time frame I had."

As for Bradley, Defendini's apology isn't cutting it. "Not listening" isn't an excuse—it's deepening the wound. Black Women have been "not listened" to since the dawn of this nation's founding.

"I am angry," she wrote. "Seething from centuries of silenced Black women angry."