I am quite exhausted after a weekend of partying exploring the restaurants and nightlife here in Bangui. It started on Thursday evening when I had dinner with some French and Belgian people. We went to a restaurant that is really close to where I live, it was not bad at all and I had fish, “le Capitaine” which is a white, tasty fish. I didn’t come home that late which was good since I had a rendezvous with the military chaplain the next morning (as I have mentioned already). The meeting was ok but I don’t think it is fruitful for me to have him introducing me to some of the soldiers. Firstly he does not agree to me interviewing them but wants me to give them questionnaires (as I have mentioned). This is quite complicated since I cannot be sure they will fill them in without anyone supervising them. That would obviously affect the reliability of their answers so that won’t do. Secondly I get the feeling he wants to get some money out of it as he said that there is a need for some paperwork to get me into the barracks, which would cost me a certain amount of money. As I already have access to high ranking officers through my contacts here, without paying anything I don’t see how he could help me. Well, it was good to meet him anyhow and talk a bit about his work.
Friday I had lunch with people from the EU delegation and it was interesting to hear the EU point of view on the SSR process here as the EU has supported the process both financially and technically. To summarise the view of the process and its effects was not that optimistic and I got to hear about several difficulties in implementing the reforms. I’ll get back to that at a later stage but in short the lack of political will makes any progress difficult.
In the evening I was invited to a birthday party, by one of the French from the dinner on Thursday evening. It was nice and I gave him a rather silly elk wearing a scarf with the Swedish flag and a schnapps glass with a Darlecarlian horse and the Swedish flag on it. The guests were mainly Belgians and French in their 50’s but there was one girl and one guy my age, both French. The latter took me out to explore the nightlife in Bangui when the old ones wanted to go to bed. We went to two different nightclubs, one with a more African ambiance as the clientele and the music was mainly African. At the other club there were quite a few ex-pats although very mixed and the DJ played hip hop and R’n’B from the US. I had a great time and was dancing the night away! It was great and I got back around 6 am, completely exhausted. It was nice to go out and dance, I wouldn’t have been able to do that without being accompanied by someone who knows the city. I really hope I’ll get the occasion to do it again.
Saturday was quite calm and I had a long siesta in the afternoon. I had planned to just stay home but things don’t always go as planned. One of my really good friends had emailed me a few days before to put me in contact with one of his really good friends who was coming to Bangui for a few days. I emailed my phone number and the guy called me Saturday. I could not refuse that so I went off to see him at the café where I often go to use internet. We chat for a bit and had a nice time and then one of his colleagues turned up. Then it turned out that he also know my very good friend who put me in contact with the first guy but they had no idea that they both knew him. He felt obliged to call our friend and I guess he was more than a little surprised... It is a small world. What are the odds?
On Sunday I was invited to a pool party and fortunately it had stopped raining. Saturday it was pouring down and I was slipping around in the mud of the streets while people would shout at me “go to the other side” trying to help the lost white girl slipping in the mud. But when Sunday came the sun was shining again. The party was excellent, started around 1 pm and continued until it got dark. I was floating around in the pool the whole day as snacks and drinks were served without interruption. That’s the good life isn’t it! We had some sort of lunch/dinner around 3 pm and I think that was the only time I actually got out of the swimming pool. Most of the people from the birthday party was there. Apparently the owners of the house also use to do jetski on the Oubangui river. That I want to try but I guess that has to wait until next time. Hence I came home completely exhausted Sunday evening and just died in my bed. Yesterday I was still a bit tired but today I was definitely back in business and went to the ministry of defence to meet with some people there who work with the SSR process. I do feel a bit sick today though and my poor throat apparently does not support the local cigarette brands.
This week I have scheduled two interviews on Thursday so tomorrow I’ll spend the day preparing the questions to get the most out of it. That’s all for now, tonight I’ll get to bed early, early.