Le Chien Terrible
Trip Start Aug 01, 2008
63Trip End Jun 30, 2010
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Where I stayed
Gil Courtemanche talks about how in Africa everybody is a little chief, all scrapping for their piece of power, however tiny. Whatever power is had is used to its fullest authority. David and I got pulled over last year by a military guy (who had no jurisdiction over traffic) who then tried to extort about a hundred and twenty dollars from us. Because, you see, it was his corner. Just like some thug at home. Needless to say we left him holding David’s license, in the dust. Customs officials pick their noses and wipe them on your passport. There is a guy has been kicked off the police, but still has his uniform, who wanders drunk around Pointe-Noire harassing people in the street for cash. White guys strut around the pool side, ordering the teen-aged girls that they’ve bought for the afternoon, to bring them a drink, a towel, a menu. Chuckling as she scurries away. The power to say no or to say yes to something that someone needs or wants is better than actually supplying them or denying them. Money equals power equals abuse of that power, however minute.
So of course I can’t just go up to my neighbor and say "Hey Buddy, what’s up with your dog? He wakes up my kids, can you help me out?" First of all, he is rumored to be someone of actual political and military power and is surrounded constantly by an entourage, I’m not even sure which one he is, secondly, how would I get around the guy with the AK sitting at the door to his compound with my crappy French?
And to be fair, it’s my own fear of the unknown, the gun, and the power which prevents me from approaching the neighbor who may be the nicest, most approachable guy in the world. He might look straight at me and say “Holy cow lady, I am so sorry about my dog, thanks for letting me know in such a neighborly way and I’ll take care of it”.