Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Congolese Francs

This photo was taken in Kipaka.  There are some folks from the village along with myself and a few "officials" with 9Q-CMY in the background.  There's a story that goes along with the picture and it goes a little something like this....

     Flight days to Kipaka are long, no matter which way you split it.  Even in the caravan it would take the better part of your day, and with "Uniform India" leaving at 8am from Bunia will usually get you back right around 5pm.  With "Mike Yankee" that window is even tighter.  Even so, it's important to spend time on the ground with the people, especially the officials, that way there are no hassles next time.

     Well, it just so happened that the last time I was in town, they wanted to snap this photo with the pilot to make it all official.  I agreed--it was a nice break after I had just unloaded 1000 pounds, and put 600 more back in for the return trip.  I had some issues with the officials about paperwork that I was "supposed" to have with me, like passports and visas and all that.  They let me go, but said that next time, I'd have to have it with me or it would be a big fine.

     So, I obliged, and made a nice photocopy of my passport's info page and the visa I was issued.  When asked, I produced the documents, only to find that these were not good enough, they wanted the originals.  After a long and sometimes heated discussion ranging from taxes and fees of a Christian humanitarian organization to my residency in Congo, we finally came to an agreement.  See, I don't like to just hand out money and pay for bribes or illegitimate taxes, I like to get something out of it too.  To make a long story short, they didn't want to let me leave without paying some kind of fine, and I didn't want to pay it, so we met somewhere in the middle.  They get a fifty cent "fine" and I got a copy of a really cool picture!

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