Day 20 – June 2


I slept for 12 hours! I still have a sore throat, etc, but I feel a little bit better. I ran errands today. First to the dress shop where I am having an African dress made. They wear their dresses quite form fitting here so I’m having to adjust, but the tailor informed me that it’s still too big on me… despite the fact that it is already a bit difficult to sit in. Haha! It’s supposed to be tighter so, so be it. Afterwards, I had Santi pick me up. He wanted to wait for me while I was at the store, which I thought would be great until waiting meant coming in with me… This is problematic because you feel guilty buying anything. I asked him if there was anything he needed to pick up, hoping that he wouldn’t follow me through the whole place and instead would grab what he needed, but no luck. Finally on our way out he said I could buy him some eggs since his wife likes them. Of course I did since he looked like he wanted everything I bought – I felt horribly guilty. Here, most of the Congolese go to the market and only a store on occasion, if ever. We, as foreigners, go to a place called the Park N Shop, the only grocery store in the city. Most of the food is imported and more expensive, but we have to buy our food there since we can get very sick from the food here if we’re not careful. If you have not grown up in Africa, you are much more likely to get very ill very easily. However, many of the Congolese believe that we are “too good” for their markets. That is not the case, but I’ve been told that is what most of them think and also that they think we are too wealthy to shop at the same places. Some Congolese shop at the Park N Shop too for things like water, or other basics, which is why I hoped Santi would. He is a very kind man and I felt awful buying anything in front of him, so when he mentioned the eggs, it was the least I could do. Even eggs here are expensive – $11 for two dozen.      


The same belief occurs with taxis. We, as foreigners, ride in taxis and not on the buses. The Congolese assume that we are “too good” and “too wealthy” for the buses, but in reality, we are not allowed to ride in them because they are too dangerous for us. Unfortunately, these two things mean that the Congolese think you are much more wealthy than you actually are and don’t believe you when you explain that you have to do things that way for safety.


Long story short, I knew Santi could not shop at the Park N Shop on a regular basis and I hated him seeing exactly how much money I was spending on food. I bought his eggs and hoped that maybe he would understand. I ran into the Pharmacy on the way home to get mosquito repellent. (Here I have to apply mosquito repellent about 3 times per day in order to prevent bites and possibly getting malaria.) That is also expensive here and Santi was confused as to why I would spend money on it. Even though I explained the problem with malaria, especially to those of us that are not used to it. Finally I went home, paid him 6000 for his time, and realized that in the future I will just have him drop me off and I’ll find another ride home after.


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