It was a Friday. We had lots of morning meetings then I came back to the hotel around midday as everyone went to the mosque for prayers. After lunch, I decided to go to the bank to change money. I was running out of local currency. There was a super long line at the bank. All of a sudden a guy came into the banking hall and spent half an hour or so yelling at another guy. We all just watched – no one came to pull him away or kick him out. A lady later whispered to me that it was an altercation between employer and employee. The employee had checked his account and had not yet been paid in full.
I got back to the hotel only to realize I had actually not changed enough money. I was off by a factor of 0. Oh boy! Who was going to go back to the bank? I went to the hotel reception to see if they could assist me. Quite coincidentally there was a gigantic guy sitting at the bar throwing back some whiskys (on a Friday afternoon – do you boo boo.) Spyros heard me asking the bartender about changing money at the hotel. Spyros turned out to be a half Greek – half Tanzanian clove trader who was more than happy to take my dollars and give me Comorian francs. I changed 400 USD with him and I was really impressed by how quick it all was – and what a fair deal he had given me.
The next morning we were leaving Ndzouani to head back to Grand Comores (Moroni). The airport was hectic. Everyone was rushing to us giving us packages to take to people in Ndzouani. Comoros kept on reminding me of what the world was when we all trusted each other. My gut instincts is – stranger at the airport giving me a package – wants to make me a drug mule. My travel companion though happily took everyone’s package. One of the packages was from an old man. It was an envelope containing his passport that needed to go to the Malagasy embassy in Ndzouani – and money. Just how trusting are people? I can never imagine giving someone my passport.
Today again we had the same female pilot from Malindi. Saturday was a work day for us in Comoros. I was struggling getting used to this system. By the end of Friday, my body generally crashes and I want to have “me” time for the weekend – not have stakeholder interviews. Our morning in Ndzouani started with Government meetings that took almost 3 hours.
Lost in translation. I remember on our drive to the Government meetings, our car was booming Eamon’s “F*** you” None of my travel companions was Anglophone – as such none of them seemed to realize what the lyrics were. I find it quite hilarious how curse words can only be fully appreciated by those who speak the language well.
After that my field work was officially done. I found a lovely hotel and had a 4 hour lunch – including a beer or two.
I left Moroni for Nairobi the next day. It had definitely been an interesting time in Comoros.