This Vacation NOT Paid For With Blood Money

23 Feb

Consider this the prequel to my Zanzibar vacation

I went into Kigali a day early to take care of some stuff before we headed off to Zanzibar. The day just happened to be Chinese New Year so after a tasty dinner of Mr. Chips (Think American fair food: hot dogs, pulled pork, real burgers etc) we met up with some other PCVs at a Casino near Fort Peace Corps.

Now I’ve never been a fan of casinos and once I realized there was smoking in this one and the drinks were two times what they should be I got over being there pretty quick. So it’s a wonder that we ended up staying there for the rest of the night seemingly doing nothing.

I suppose I stopped caring that we weren’t leaving to go dancing when the free drinks started coming. How did that happen you ask? Well, an African gentlemen who spoke good English asked me to select a drink for the whole poker table. This sounds harder than you think because to order anything other than beer is an involved and expensive process that doesn’t always turn out for the best. I hesitated, polled the crowd and settled on Scotch. I mean if he was buying right? What we ended up with was Skol, Rwanda’s low sugar beer, and only enough bottles for the ladies. But I couldn’t complain.

The two of us who weren’t gambling ambled over to one of the roulette tables where I tried to convince the casino workers that I didn’t like gambling so it would be no problem to let me spin the roulette wheel, they weren’t buying it. Some Chinese guys came over to play roulette and asked us to help them decide what to bet on. So we picked our birthdays, favorite numbers, sports jerseys from high school and told them to bet on the birthdays and ages of their wives and children.

Then Mr. Africa came over and I asked what country he was from that he was flashing American cash and speaking English so well. He claimed the entirety of Africa was his country to which I called bologna. Then he handed me a business card that said he was chief of some area in Congo (can you say war lord?). Makes sense since the Congolese currency is worthless, there are no banks there and they use American dollars.

He was playing ALOT of $25 chips like they were nothing so I kept reiterating that he could’ve paid for my vacation so Zanzibar several times over. He continued to place chips down even after the dealer said not to so I had a lot of fun emphatically declaring, “Les jeux sont fait!” (Thank you very much Mr. Inman and high school French).

As I write this I’m afraid it’s not as entertaining to the reader as those who were there. Mr. Africa also offered to fly us wherever we needed in the Congo, said that if I called him the next day we could discuss his paying for our trip, and lot’s of other fluffy, impossible promises I don’t quite remember.

The most ridiculous part of the evening came when two of us ladies were freshening up after using the bathroom and in walks Mr. Africa. I don’t remember how the conversation started. But I brought up how he probably loved prostitutes (paying for sex is quite common) because it tends to put guys on the defensive. He said that he detested them and paid them a thousand dollars just to stay away from him. Then in the most non sequitur segue EVER he confided to us that he had a problem, that his genitalia was too long and reached for his belt.

As soon as he did that I nudged my friend forward, giggled at the craziness of the night and said repeatedly, “We gotta go. Gotta go NOW.” As he followed us out I reminded him that he still had to use the bathroom. He thanked me for the reminder (ludicrous) and backed off. For the rest of the evening we stayed one the opposite side of the casino but the beers still arrived whenever the previous one was gone.

This might shock some of you, but honestly this kind of ridiculousness happened to me even in America. All you can really do is laugh. Which is what I did all the way home when we piled entirely too many people into the cab.


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