Today was a rest day, a little opportunity to walk downtown with Bill and Charles between 10 and noon. There are pictures on Facebook now.
They are pretty great guys to hang out with. As soon as Bill got back from Kikwit last night we started joking around. His bus made good time and we were glad to see him.
So we went down to the same central area that I blogged about last night; where there’s a perpetual traffic jam. The traffic wasn’t so bad this time; it was day time for one thing. Along our route, we stopped to grab a Coke, then followed Charles down to the river. There was a checkpoint (guarded by two men and three tractor tires, set upright across the space) and Charles wanted to see if a friend of his who runs a fish farm right down on the river was home (the reason its a checkpoint is simply that the river is the border, and if you go down there and find a boat, you could go unguarded over into Congo. The friend wasn’t home and after a bit a woman came up to meet us, but as the man nor his sons were around, Charles said he’d come back later. In the interim, as we were waiting for her, Charles said, everybody’s asking questions here. Charles knows some people, but what has he brought two other mundeles? What is Mundele number two carrying in a bag? [probably millions of dollars] Why is Mundele number three wearing a yellow baseball cap? Are you sure they aren’t Chinese? What do they want?
So we moved on to the square, where Bill was hoping to send money over to his translators in Togo [uh, btw that’s another African country] and the bank he wanted to use (same bank as the one in Togo) turned out not to be a bank at all but just an ATM machine.
Then we went looking for Pastor Birakara Joli, the Veep of CMCO (Mennonite Congolese Church) who attended our training last week. Joli wasn’t home, but we knew it would pay relational dividends because word would get to him that three mundeles had visited his house.
Then we bought two pineapples.
Then we bought some little doughnuts.
Then we bought bananas.
Finally, carrying the makings of a fruit salad and eating the doughnuts (beignets — pronounced more like bay-nyays) we stopped at the Facebook Restaurant.
Funny thing about Facebook here: it’s very popular because with most cell phone plans, you can get a call but not make one if you don’t have pre-paid credits at the moment, which is pretty often. But you can use Facebook for free. The other thing about phones: they create jobs! Here and there are charging stations where you can plug in for a fee. Someone tends those. Then of course there are ubiquitous little umbrellas where you can buy credits, and of course you have to buy a phone now and then too.
So, Facebook for free with your phone plan is a big deal. Selfies abound. People I’ve friended have liked every single post. You can use it without paying for additional credit and you can use it as a texting service. That’s why it makes total sense that a Facebook Restaurant, very modern interior, serves schwarmas and burgers at prices few can afford (I got a schwarma for $4, but Zuckerberg did not get a piece of that action). We sat on a little wall, three mundeles in a row, on a curve in the road, eating our schwarmas, laughing at the fact that every bus that went by was full of people snapping photos of us with their cell phones and laughing at us.
Los Tres Silly mundeles eating in the sun!
Did you notice that none of our three errands were accomplished? I barely noticed myself. In fact, just by going in person and leaving word that we had been there, we built relational capital, and that’s an accomplishment in itself.
The rest of the day was a wash. My stomach did not feel well. I can’t imagine why. Street food in Kinshasa. Mmm-mmm good.