'I have the number here, I'll give it to you,' quoths I.
He starts to dial, then says: 'Wait a mo, that's my number.'
'What,' quoths I, 'it was you who was here Friday?'
'Yes,' quoths he, 'don't you recognise me?'
Meanwhile it's total pandemonium at the boat departure point, called The Beach. They've pulled the road up for reconstruction and a whole dust-encaking walking detour from the taxi is in order. There are two ways of crossing – either pay four times the price and go by so-called canot rapide (rapid motor boat) that takes 12 people and performs all the migration formalities for you for $20, or join 12 million shouting others from the world's toiling and sweating masses, huge bundles swaying atop their heads, and struggle aboard a large clapped out old ferry. Muggins decides to forgo the local colour and pay the $20.
|Brazzaville disappears into the haze on crossing to Kinshasa|
'And what about a little something for Fabrice and Olivier,' quoths they, although the service is all meant to be included in the price. Well, they put on a good bit of 'local colour' entertainment of their own during the more than hour's wait, so they're worth $5.
|Kinshasa port heaves into view|
|Kinshasa port skyline|
|UN peace mission boat and post at port|
A nice lady with stripes on her shoulder tags and DGM (Directorate General of Migration) on her arms takes charge of me. 'Diplomat, diplomat,' she shouts at any and everybody as she propels me towards 'the formalities.' I do not disabuse her. We now pass stations of the cross, Kinshasa style.
Fist station - a dirty little cell-like room with a thick iron grill door above which is written 'Formalities, Diplomats and V.I.P.' She hands my passport through the grills to a self-important fatty, who peruses it, seems satisfied and hands it back.
Now we proceed through a dirty corridor to station no: 2 – a dirty little cell-like room with a thick, clanging iron door under the title 'DGM, Bureau of Studies and Contentions.' At least it's air conditioned. She hands my passport to a second self-important fatty who peruses it, then takes a questionnaire which he fills in religiously. Name..., father's name... mother's name...
‘Are they still alive?’
'Yes,' quoths I, 'they're called Mr. and Mrs. Methuselah.'
|World lung destruction - tropical hard wood awaits transport|
'Tip?' quoths I. 'For a police woman? For an official?'
'Oh yes,' quoths Django, 'elsewhere you may not do so but here we tip our officials most liberally.”
I give her $3.50.
|Kinshasa port view|