Our Driver Julio

On the morning of our first trip back to see the musicians, Kaori and I waited for our driver Julio to pick us up. Julio was a local driver who had been referred to us by our Congolese friend Emmanuel. We had been warned that local drivers are sometimes unreliable, showing up late or not at all, but Julio showed up right on time in a functioning vehicle. 


Unfortunately, Julio didn’t speak any English, so I had to dust off my high school French class vocabulary to communicate with him. He didn’t know the name of the street we wanted to get to, but I told him we were looking for a bright green roof in the Ngiri-Ngiri district and that they were Kimbanguist musicians. After getting misdirected by several people on the street, we eventually found our location!

I did my very best communicating to Julio that we wanted him to come back at 5pm, and wondered if we might be stranded in Ngiri-Ngiri if he forgets to come get us. “Oh well! What can we do?” 


At the rehearsal site, we excitedly hoped for our musicians friends to arrive soon, as we were informed that many may not be coming, as they had performed a long concert the night before, commemorating their 20-year anniversary. As Kaori and I sat around hoping that somebody will come see us soon, I heard Jerry’s booming voice shout, “Aomori! Bonjour!!” 

It was our dear friend and Bassoonist Jerry, along with several other woodwind players of the orchestra. It was so nice to see them again, healthy and smiling, with their instruments on their backs.


We had an unbelievably inspiring first day of lessons, (which we’ll be writing about soon) and it turned out we really had nothing to worry about because Julio came back around 3PM and hung around the orchestra site until we were ready to be driven back home.


Although there was a huge language barrier with our driver Julio, he was always very sweet and helpful, and not to mention an excellent driver. We learned some more Lingala from him, and although the streets of Kinshasa were still very hectic, we only faced one slightly scary incident (which we’ll describe another time).  Oh, and as it turns out, for all the bad rep. the Congolese get for not showing up on time, it turns out Kaori and I are way worse. On our last day, when I smiled and apologized to Julio once more for not finishing our lessons on time, Julio simply shook his head and said, “You guys are late every day.” 


Thanks Julio! We hope you can still drive us again next time, and we promise to be more on time next time!

- Nana