|Title:||the minister of labour|
|Location:||abidjan, cote d'ivoire|
|Text:||km 56 731
i met mark on the balcony of our hotel. he's from south africa and does all kind of business all over africa. we got along from the very first minute.
we talked about places that we'd both knew: vietnam, cambodia, cuba and many others. he lives in monrovia and loves it. "it's this atmosphere which i love". he told me.
i can understand it. apart from all the tensions here, the city has its pep, maybe it's exactly these tension which turn it into a ineresting place, the perfect setting for a movie or novel.
evey once in a while, somebody would come up and have a chat with mark. "go and get us some beer, please" he told a well dressed liberian after some small talk.
"he's a minister", mark told me, "and the son of a late president of liberia".
"and you send him off to get beer for us?" i asked him in disbelief.
"why not?" was the reply. and we both laughed.
the minister didn't manage to arrange for the beer, so mark shouted to a boy a the street to get some. it worked.
"jackson, you could bring steven to the airport this afternoon, couldn't you?"
"sure, the minister replied" it will cost forty dollars. "it's a good price," mark told me afterwards, "no taxi will take you for less than fifty!"
this is how i got to sit in a black mercedes little later, driving out to the airport. jackson would not stop at any roadblock and the soldiers, after looking angry, would salute: "good afternoon minister!" they would shout.
i couldn't quite imagine this guy to be a minister, but he even showed me his passport. at the airport people went crazy saluting him, always with a smile. he joked around with everybody.
the check in for my flight was to be delayed for at least another hour, so we started drinking beer. drunk minister and drunk steven... it was great fun. he offered me all kinds of business deals, then we talked about politics and he'd swear at the UN and the sanctions imposed at liberia.
i had great fun. and when, finally, i could check in, he'd get me through all checks without a fuss. noone would ask for a 'little gift'. they wouldn't even screen my luggage, it was funny.
i think i still had a broad smile on my face when i arrived in abidjan. i went back to the coppa cabana and was received with a warm welcome!
sergio was there and i finally got to meet nathalie. we'd been in contact by email ever since leaving switzerland. tonight we finally met. they'd been a bit worried about me, since i was late, and the'd heard some bad new about liberia.
felt like being back home again.