I drop my luggage at the house of a dear friend where I’ll be spending my one night in Paris. A bit later I find myself walking along rue Saint Honoré to visit him at the very fancy boutique where he’s employed. Selling custom made jewelry by Phillipe Ferrandis, very beautiful. It won’t get more Parisien then this, I realize. It makes me loose my mind a bit. Walking the chique street crowded with many mindless people and pockets full of money, bored faces, immaculately groomed. When a church comes in eyesight, I climb it’s stairs without thinking. Like a magnet it draws me close. Inside tears rise in my eyes. I wonder where and how emotions suddenly get such a tight grip on me. In full acceptance I sit down in the back of the church, admiring the azure blue of the painted sky and the almost alive white marble of the statues around the altar. Until I close my eyes and empty my mind. Before leaving the church I lit a candle in order to continue my way at the rue Saint Honoré relieved. Momentarily relieved. From what exactly I don’t know.
Cartier, Dior, Boucheron and Van Cleef & Arpels encircle the beautiful Place Vendôme. Tomorrow I’ll be setting foot on the ground of the nation where most of the raw material being traded here, in these ultimately exclusive shops, are mined. The contrast can’t possibly be bigger. Paris versus Kinshasa, the latter being after Nairobi and Cairo the third largest city of the African continent. I take a picture. I had to find myself exactly here at the epicenter of decadent luxury. It’s an indispensable part of the journey. Today the road leads me further only to l’Opéra. Where I am supposed to catch the metro. But I decide to first spend a whole lot of money on a cup of tea at Café de la Paix, across from l’Opéra. Since I did evaluate from a student in Paris with no money into a single woman on a short visit to Paris with hardly any money. The upgrade is almost neglectable considering the time lapse of twenty five years. But sure enough I can afford a ridiculous eight euros for an elegant cup of tea at one of the numerous exquisite street terraces the city of light hosts. There’s one little round table unoccupied at the terrace of Café de la Paix. I have to ask an indifferent preoccupied woman – is she really from Paris or merely pretending to be? – to pick up her expensive hand bag from the seat in order to take place, content, potentially joyful and very much at ease. Another waiter, another exchange of smiles. What happened to the typical Parisien waiters syndrome of arrogance, I ask myself while realizing that this part of the journey had to be terminated at Café de la Paix, a name to be cherished under the circumstances of me traveling to the Congo’s. Café de la Paix will remain safe and protected taken over as it is by the exclusive Intercontinental Group. What about the two Congo’s? Will they survive their extremely rich heritage of rubber, gold, diamonds, kobalt and uranium exploitation? Around Place Vendôme they might know better then I do.