Well I’ve been in the Congo for almost 72 hours. And boy is it different from Guinea! The people are extremely friendly and welcoming. They’re also very helpful. I am quite amazed at the number of folks who speak English. That is a real treat considering I speak about two phrases in French. *I really need to practice french*
Last night, I went out for dinner with a large group of people. We went to Palm Beach Hotel. The hotel is located across from the beach. I was really excited to have the shrimp avocado cocktail I grew to love while I was in Guinea. I also had a pizza and a coke light. *that’s diet coke for my American friends* The price of the meal? $20 American, about twice as much as Guinea. After dinner, we went a bit down the road and had ice cream for dessert, $2 a scoop.
And now let me try to explain the money. The Congo uses the Central African Franc. Interestingly, one is not legally allowed to remove the CFA from the country. If one is found with any CFAs on their person, it will be confiscated. Ha! So, 1000 CFA = $2. 5000 CFA = $10. To do the math for converting CFAs to dollars you take the amount in CFAs, say 2529, multiply that by 2 which equals 5058, then put the decimal point 3 places to the left between the 5 and the 0 and the item costs roughly $5.058 or $5.06. Got it? Seems complicated, especially when one is jet lagged, but I understand it completely now. Ha!
Today, I walked into town with my friend Leanne. We wanted to visit the supermarket. First we got the shuttle to the train station. Then we walked the rest of the way. We found a nice internet cafè with fairly reasonable prices.
Next up, we visited a sporting good store. All the items in the store were western brand name items. The prices were higher than western prices, probably due to import fees.
Then we walked to the supermarket. All I can say is wow! It is nearly as good as a western market. Some items are reasonably priced. Other items are expensive. Children’s toys are super expensive! I was really surprised to find Ben and Jerry’s ice cream! It only costs about $12 American! Ha!
It was great fun to get out and explore a little bit of the neighborhood. I think it’s going to be a fun year!