September 2, 2015
Today was spent repairing the cell phone (again) and meeting Maty’s family (more of them). So much the same.
Funny story when I left the embassy yesterday. I had called Djibi before leaving the library, and he said that since it was raining he would find a taxi who would go down to the embassy and pick me up. Now, the embassy is in Ouaga 2000, which means it is out in the bush a long way from anywhere a taximan wants to go. So I should have been concerned, but it didn’t occur to me that there might be something Djibi couldn’t do. Anyway, he was taking care of fixing the cell phone. So I checked out through embassy security, considerably more secure now than in the olden days, and sat down outside waiting for the taximan. I had Bryson to entertain me, and after half an hour or so, a very fit-looking young white man in a jacket and tie sat down next to me. We got to talking, and turns out he is in the US Air Force and works in the Defense Attaché office. He was on the same flight I was. I mentioned I was waiting for a cab and he said they had been told not to take cabs. We talked about the country and his ideas about how things were progressing and if the military was going to let free elections take place (reminding me somewhat of things in Haiti long ago; let’s hope the parallel is not too valid). Finally, here’s Djibi in person. No taxi would come for any sort of a reasonable price. So I climb aboard the back of the motorcycle and off we go into the rain. The DAO guy was no doubt praying for us. I was praying for us… It was a wild ride. But finally we found the guy who fixes the phones, and I got my phone back with a new screen. Turns out it was probably the only replacement Galaxy SII screen in the country, special-ordered by someone who hadn’t picked it up and didn’t answer when called. So too bad for him. Then, we hit the Senegalese restaurant and returned in good order, just slightly damp and about 50 bucks poorer.
I should say that if anybody even tried to fix a cell phone like this in the US it would have cost substantially more. I was surprised that the screen by itself cost less than 100. I was about ready to buy a new phone. I may still buy a new phone. I have been spoiled by my Samsung 5 Active, though of course part of that is mobile data that works.
This morning, I tried to make some calls and realized that although the phone worked and I could hear the other person, they couldn’t hear me. Also, there was no sound coming out of main speaker, either music or ringing. I cleverly deduced that something else had been broken and the repair guy hadn’t realized it because I had neglected to turn off the screen lock before giving it to him. Off we went again to see M. Issaka at the main market.
This time, we stopped at the Senegalese restaurant while he was fixing it – an easier part to find this time – and then met another of Maty’s brothers, whose name I cannot recall right now. Also, I didn’t have my camera or cell phone so I couldn’t take any pictures. He is an interesting guy, though. We had a long talk about Africa and America and the economy and education and suchlike. He’s been all over and knows most countries in Africa. He has a son, to whom I was introduced, who looks about Phillip’s age and who has passed a crucial test allowing him to go on to high school and maybe (after another test) on to university. We complain about testing in America but in the French/African system it is omnipresent. You have to pass a test every couple of years to even be able to stay in school. If you flunk out, that’s it, you’re done. Several people that I know, very smart people, have flunked out and are now scratching out a living one way or another. What they need here is community colleges. Among all the other things that they need. But it is a real waste of talent to have a guy with a license (like a bachelor’s) in English selling me cell phone service and another guy with half an engineering degree importing used clothing and selling jewelry on the side.
I did get in touch with the History Department chair and I will go to see her tomorrow. Also, the university administrative guy, Mr. Sawadogo, stopped by, and he was very pleasant and chatty without giving me an answer about when the air conditioning would be fixed. There really isn’t much to be done but wait and hope for the best. Luckily the temperature has been topping out about 32 C, mid-80s F, and getting down into the 20s at night.
And there’s about 75 bucks worth of repair work. Hope its worth it.