Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Today for the first time I went by taxi all alone. And here's how it happened.

I had to go to the dentist's today (long story, let's just say thank God I bought travel insurance) and thus Jandro took me there after lunch. Then he had to go back to work and I decided to go to the M'Bolo supermarket all by myself. He told the taxi driver where to take me, I paid, mumbled "merciaurevoir" and went shopping. That was the easy part, of course.

I successfully asked for some cheese ("Bon soir, I'd like a piece of fromage du chèvre, s'il vous plaît") and then went on to buy some ham:

- I'd like 300 gramms of this ham, s'il vous plaît.
- ?
- This ham?
- (the lady takes the ham, puts it on the cutting thing and calls another lady)
- I'd like 300 grams of that ham, s'il vous plaît.
- ?
- 300 gramms? Three oh oh?
- Ahh, oui. C'est tout?
- Oui, c'est tout, merci.

I paid and then I proceeded to the special check-out place, where a gentleman has to put a stamp on your receipt. He is supposed to check if you paid for everything you have in your basket but in the end he just looks at you and stamps the receipt (I've already mentioned how good they are out here in creating unnecessary jobs, haven't I?). This gentleman (quite good-looking, I proudly admit) started flirting with me a little bit ("You first time M'Bolo? I don't see you early... My English very bad. You like Gabon?") but was not very successful.

And then the moment of truth came. I had to stop a taxi and say where I wanted to go and for how much. In French. As soon as I left the supermarket I saw an empty taxi approaching. I waved and he stopped. I said the thing I'd rehearsed millions of times in my head, employing my best French pronunciation: "Mille francs la course lycée Leon M'Ba". It worked. He said "Oui, madame" (I was flattered, they hardly ever say anything to you) and drove me home. I told him to stop in front of my building ("Ici c'est bon, merci.") and happily greeted the guard outside of our building. For the first time I felt like I was a tiny little bit from here. And I hadn't been this proud of myself in a looong time.

Of course, I was so concentrated on getting a taxi, that I forgot to get some bananas at the fruit stall outside of the supermarket. :)

The picture is of our fridge which I successfully filled with food.


  1. I'm so proud of you! And you know - now your French is better than mine. MUCH better! :-)
    And as to a guy who stamps your receipt, there is exactly the same function in Makro in Poland, so it's not only a Gabonese phnomenon ;-).

  2. I know, I know, I forgot to add that. The difference is, however, that in Makro they look into your shopping basket and here they look down your cleavage... ;)