so as of yet, i have not found a single, relaxed, normal way to buy african fabrics. ok, unless i want to go to vlisco where they are 80$ each but that doesn't count.
the whole reason i am in congo is to fly with this little plane we are bringing in from south africa, but it has nothing but problems like crashing in malawi or needing a new o-ring in namibia so, i'm basically waiting for it to show up. which means i have some down time to visit the fabric store.
i asked and asked and asked around for the mother of all fabric stores and was told avenue du commerce, which is really long, and really insane.
so i call papi and ask him if we can just swing by to buy fabrics before lunchtime.
i can already tell that papi is not too jazzed about the idea but as usual he's very accommodating, no problem no problem. we get to the market neighborhood and slowly creep through streets just filled to the gills with buses, people, animals, potholes, dirt, everything. this is it.
i see the store and right in front there are, as usual, all these guys helping you to park, eager to get their commission. so we pick a spot and the guy is like, here here here and he just tosses aside some poor lady's mango stand and waves us in to his special parking spot.
we get out and i'm in this crazy fabric store, with the loudest music (as usual, so loud you can barely even hear or understand it because it is blowing the speakers) and this guy with a microphone is screaming "super quality! best price!" and some stuff in lingala. it's chaos. there's a bargain corner, with all the fabric pieces on the floor and all the mamans are fighting over the bits and one of the store employees is up on a box, his head and body all wrapped up in fabric and dancing very suggestively.
the employees are helpful, even though they have this sortof half shut eyelid please kill me now attitude. it's extremely hot.
i find what i want and papi comes running in, aurelgrooves! aurelgrooves! i need some small bills! the police! and i see his car has a recently installed (man they are quick!) boot (they have boots here?) on the front wheel. this is not good. there are three angry police officers with weapons sitting on the hood. this is so not good. but papi, he is laughing, oh it's just a little negotiation, but it is implied that i must stay in the store - the police cannot, under any circumstances see me or the whole game changes. 10x the bribe, or they might even arrest me - they always find a reason. also, i can't just walk away, this is not at all a safe place to be wandering.
so i just hang out in the store. the owners are all, what are you doing here? leave! and i say! i can't! so i just start dancing with the employees up on the box with my bag of fabric until papi has finished his business some 20 minuntes later. then, he peels out onto the sidewalk, let's go! go go go! and i hug all my new friends goodbye and jump into the front seat, just as the policemen are slowly counting their loot (papi is so smart, small bills are always best for bribes) and they realize they could have gotten much more than 10$ from this mondele, but we are too quick! thanks for the parking, seeya suckers! and wait until you see my new dresses...