taximan papi is still here and he is still my taximan. and unlike the others he doesn't stop working at 23h, or try to rip my off everyday. papi was in bukavu all last week and so i had to use the backup guy, jean pierre. who has an old nissan with the tintedest windows that can't be legal even in congo. half the windshield is black and every other one too, it's like in that vampire movie with ethan hawke. now, i take the same taxi, every day between house and work. same time. same distance (except when he ges lost trying a shortcut, which is every other day). yet every single time jean-pierre is all, today it's 5$ more. and you say whatever dude, we went through this yesterday, you're a crook and i make sure i have correct change and that's it. papi has a sweet new mercedes. i don't know where he picked i up, but, it's actually not a great thing because you get even more harassed by the beggars at intersections than before. also, papi has an israeli flag on the dashboard and given recent events i'm all, papi, really? and he says that it's because his real name is israel. and turns out i didn't really know his story, but he studied in the netherlands and stuff and has a degree and everything. woah. so i'm trying and get him a legit job at our office. anyway, we call the new boulevard, which is all paved and stuff the congo-bahn. he took it up to 180km/hr the other day.
i call papi a lot, yet the military guys at the checkpoint at my house always give him a hard time. they yell at him in swahili (apparently, you don't work for the presidential military and speak local lingala, all these guys are from the east) but so is papi so he yells right back.
but maybe i call papi too much because the other day he asked me if i just wanted to rent his car instead? that means i call too much, right? or is she just lazy? he said i could pay him at the end. and i said, you mean after i destroy your nice mercedes. because people drive like nuts. it was actually on CNN the other day, how most people don't actually learn to drive, they just go to the DMV or some dude on the street and pay for a license. the announcer guy with his english accent was all "over here, just on the other side of this wall, you'll find the deadliest streets of kinshasa." the minibuses, by rule, don't obey traffic lights and cut you off, careen left turns into speeding traffic, and honk honk and honk behind you if you are so lame as to wait for the green. at least 3 times a day, cyril will say, now that guy really almost hit us. given the condition of their vehicles, they don't worry about collisions. i've actually heard if you get into an accident with a congolese you better just RUUUUUN.
but i'm still thinking about it. my reputation as "la kinoise" would really kick it up a notch if i had my own ride. i had my dressmaker lady make me some new outfits and when i show up to work it's all whistles and hi-fives, and they ask me when i'm going to take a congolese husband (of course, they are all offering themselves). but no congolese husband, and i wouldn't take the mercedes, too low rider, and the bottom scrapes over the potholes. i think i would feel better in the old rav 4. even though it's right-hand drive english style, it would be kindof fun, right? i'll ask papi next time he picks me up to let me drive. now that's gonna flip their lids, a mondele chick driving a congolese dude around? yes.