Two pro-wrestling veterans and one movie star/wrestler run into danger, beautiful ladies, and some AK 47’s
Kinshasa, the capital of the (far from) Democratic Republic of Congo, is NOT a place you want to go out in. Day or night. And especially night. Hell, after travelling the four corners of the globe, and seeing and experiencing virtually all there is to see and experience, in Kinshasa, I was constantly on edge.
I was visiting the DRC with wrestling superstars and good buddies Nathan Jones (pro-wrestler and from the movie Troy) and Luke Gallows (pro wrestler from WWE and former member of CM Punk’s Straight Edge Society). We were on an ambassador trip there for our newly formed Global Pro Wrestling Mission (www.gpwm.net), to meet sponsors, media, business leaders and politicians…with the goal of doing a 2 week-long, nationally televised tour of the entire country, on behalf of President Joseph Kabilia, benefiting numerous major charities, end-capped by “Rumble in the Jungle Part II” in front of 110,000 at Martyr’s Stadium, and filmed for an internally-distributed documentary. Surreal, huh?
Trust me when I say that the ONLY place you’d ever want to stay in the nation’s capitol is at The Grand Hotel. Ensconced “safely” there, Nathan and Luke –two of the toughest guys you’d ever want to meet—and I were beyond reticent to walk beyond the hotel’s front gates when not escorted by our retinue of twenty heavily-armed special police.
So, imagine our surprise when one night, our hosts want to take us out. First stop is an indoor/outdoor bar-restaurant (I use that latter term loosely). Nearly its entire patronage is comprised of a few dozen of truly the hottest ladies I’d ever seen. (Author’s note: their employment, according to our guard, is of dubious question). The ladies are “socializing” with an equal number of the surliest, ugliest ex-pats imaginable. Kind of like a modern-day version of Pirates of the Caribbean, sans dagger-in-the-mouth. Although, according to our guard, the guys are all armed. To the teeth. And beyond. Nonetheless, when you come walking into a bar with Nathan Jones and Luke Gallows and 20 PARAMILITARY STORM-TROOPING POLICE-TOTING AK 47’s, even the scariest guys on the planet will give you wide berth. In fact, the dudes are quickly buying us drinks. And ALL of the ladies have turned their attention to the three of us. Damn, we’re having fun!
But, our hosts insist it’s time to leave. They want to take us to the high-end club of Congo. “High-end?” Yeah, sure. Well, maybe. ‘Cause $1000 bar tab later, we’re kicking back in the most ostentatious display of luxury-cum-bad taste I’ve ever witnesses. And we’re having a blast. Despite the exclusive aura, we’ve been behaving badly. In between giggling like a little child, Nathan is dancing wildly, arms swinging, sending the well-heeled patrons on the sparsely populated dance floor headed toward the hills. Luke is icing his nose, courtesy of a broken nose delivered by yours truly; victim of an airplane spin gone drunkenly awry. Now, we’re calmed down, somewhat and relaxing on a U-shaped, velvet sofa arrangement. Three very beautiful, very nicely dressed young local ladies are perched atop our laps.
We’ve made plans for the next night with our 3 new friends. The comedy of Luke, Nathan and I going on a triple date is not lost on us. Nor is the irony of the fact that they are meeting us for dinner at The Grand, and that none of us speak the other’s language. To handle that small obstacle, I recruit the Captain of our police guard to join us to translate. This guy is perfectly spoken in English (as well as French and his native Lingala) and he’s downright scary. I mean, if what they say about the authorities in the DRC is true, then the Captain knows where the bodies are buried. The Captain shows up for dinner in full-dress uniform, the girls very smart casual, and the three of us, well…casual-casual. A romantic table for 7 is set, and throughout the evening we exchange banter. Ask and answer questions. Have many cocktails and a genuinely good time. The 6 of us (sorry Captain!) decide to retire to my suite for cocktails. After all, everyone speaks the language of Jack Daniels.
Spoken communication is again at a standstill. I try to make due with the little French I’ve retained from High School and fail miserably. One of our date’s attempts at English falls even shorter than mine. But it’s all good…
The suite. The set-up of the whole trip. The jet lag. The danger. The beautiful ladies. And close friends.
Nathan, Luke and I look at one another and exchange glances and words… “How cool is this?” And it is.
It’s a good night.
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