Tuesday, March 11, 2014

the rather enjoyable fabric buying experience for once

so it's international women's day, and i don't have an international women's day dress! i'm such an idiot for leaving my march 8 congo dress at home. stupid, stupid. so i need to go to the market. probably best to not go alone, so olivier who is half my age and eager to impress says he'll take me. it's funny that he has no idea where to buy the fabric, but i do, so in reality i'm the one taking him. but anyway, we first have to meet in mokolo. i go to the street to catch a taxi and there are a bunch of women there, in the women's day garb. and it's true, this is probably the best day of the year to walk around as a women. everyone is all, joyeuse fete! and holding up 2 hands like it's your birthday, and all the mamans are super friendly and ask you where you dress is, and how drunk you are going to be tonight. this is our day. 
i've learned the practice of hailing a cab here. a dude in a busted up corolla slows down and you race to the window with everyone else, and scream where you want to go and a fare. so, makolo 200! and the guy will either imperceptibly nod, or lean on the horn, which means get the fuck in (and the rule is 2 people in the front passenger seat, 4 in the back) or he'll stare angrily ahead and basically drive over your feet. 
i still have the problem with the white person tax though, because the other day someone was all, bastos 100! and they get in, and i'm all, yes me too! bastos 100 and i go to open the door and he's already driven over my toenails. so it's kinda sad that it goes like: the other people: bastos 100!
they get in.
me: unenthusiastically bastos 400 :(
so we're standing there, we scream at a few but no dice. after a while, no more taxis are coming in our direction. the roads are all blocked for the big parade with the first lady. so a nice old lady who is standing next to me, who introduces herself as Lizbeth, is going to the same place, she wants to exchange the dress she already bought for her mother. i have no idea where i am going so i follow her and we walk. we cross a few police blockades and meander through the streets until we are in this crazy busy neighborhood and we grab a makolo 100. lizbeth is nice though, and she negotiates for the both of us. she even pays my way. but we get stuck in completely stalled traffic. we're sweating our faces off. the windows are rolled up, but the handle thing is missing, it's just a ring bolt nut thing and i'm clawing at it with my fingers and lizbeth goes, monsieur, can we open the window? and i think oh? electric windows? no, he hands over the opener: a long piece of metal that slides perfectly into the nut and you can open the window and you return it when you're done. nice. so no one is moving anywhere, except for the motorbikes who weave through the cars and i'm all, lizbeth, should we take a motorcycle? and she's all, not unless you want to die! and just then, a motorcycle comes out of nowhere and slams into a car, ejecting the 3 passengers and all the vegetable contents of their bags all over the hoods of 3 different vehicles. ok, let's not take a motorcycle. 
we pull up to a crazy market area with the typical goat heads and live chickens and stuff. one guy is trying to stuff 11 chickens into the trunk of a taxi. they are not tied up or anything, and each time he puts the last one in, one jumps out, and this goes on until he lowers, and lowers the trunk, holding the chickens in with one hand. as soon as they are all in, he slams the trunk closed but one makes a last ditch escape. decapitated. blood. gross.
olivier takes me to meet his grandfather, who lives in a part of the market where they sell giant aluminum pots with lids. it seems they them in cameroun, but then all these malians sit and file them all day with these huge long files. filing an aluminum pot sounds like 1000 nails on 1000 chalkboards. it's terrible. nonstop. all. day. long. i can't even listen to what the guy is saying, the hairs on my back are twitching. i need to get out of here. i'm sweaty, dizzy, completely hung over.

the guys who sell fabric are all muslims with with the little hats and the long dresses and chin beards. they have shady little stands where you can slowly, patiently look for what you want. they are actually helpful,  quite the change from chaotic shopping for fabric in kinshasa. and even though they are ripping me off, and stern hard bargainers, it's half the price of congo, too. i bought fabric with a chicken motif on it, in honor of my trunk trapped friends. 

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