Today Kristi and I took a break from the lunch-time meal at MPH (Methodist Presbyterian Hostel) where we are staying. We walked down a long hill and around the bend and up another small hill to the closest market. We enjoy the sights and sounds of a large, bustling African city. We first haggled with a ten year old vendor of kleenex; we eventually agreed on 500 francs (roughly 50 cents) for two kleenex pouches. He made out with his original selling price! (good for him to stand his ground). We were looking to buy “pain” (bread). A nice Congolese man saw that we were looking for something and led us to the nearest bread/grocery store. The bagger at the store introduced himself as “Mr. Sony,” and we were able to greet him in Lingala, “Mbote” (hello). We were also able to say “Zambe aza malamu” (God is good).
After buying our bread and some juice, we stopped to buy an avacado from some women on the street. Again we haggled, amidst great laughter and fun. They out-negotiated us, and we walked away with a ripe, delicious avacado that was still a fraction of what we would pay in the U.S. On our way home we stopped at a small air-conditioned restaurant and each ordered a coke. As we threw back our first swig, two Congolese men with guitars entered the restaurant and began serenading us in French. Lovely! I (Bob) felt like this was a grand welcoming party, blessing us in our new country. One of the guitarists even looked like Paul Kagame (the President of Rwanda) with a cowboy hat. We paid for our cokes, gave a tip to our entertainers, and walked up the big hill to get back to MPH. We made a futile attempt to find some hard boiled “amagi” (eggs, same word in Lingala as Kinyarwanda) before entering MPH and making our spread for a wonderful lunch.
Oh yeah…one more thing. I (Bob) went out to buy some peanut butter from a street side vendor who is positioned just outside our compound. In my belabored French, I asked for peanut butter for our bread. Celine, the vendor, pointed at the tub of peanut butter to confirm my desired purchase. I responded, “yego (Kinyarwanda), “si” (spanish), “yes”….and finally, “Oui!” I finally got it right after responding in three languages! Celine laughed and gave us the peanut butter for free. :)
A fellow missionary staying at MPH made the off-hand remark this morning at breakfast about the “work ethic” of the Congolese. He seemed to insinuate they don’t have one. Our excursion today confirmed the opposite. These people work very hard, and do the best they can to make it through each day. They are an inspiration. Cheers to bread, avocado, and peanut butter for lunch! Hmmn...hmmn.