(view from one of the university buildings)
downtown L'shi (centre ville) is a 250 franc congolais (fc) minibus ride from the house, although i have yet to see a 50fc bill! so usually the conductor gives back 200fc (500fc is the most common denomination) until all the passengers complain for 100 more. $1 = 890 fc right now, and people walk around with bricks of bills and there are exchange stands all over. downtown is really busy and i saw boxes of goods from thailand, zambia, kinshasa, south africa, india, china, dubai, tanzania, as well as alot of L'shi manufactured goods like biscuits, bottled water, beer, mattresses... also for some reason the government mandated that most buildings au centre ville be painted some shade of orange.
the L'shi Post Office is in the middle of the city on a roundabout that is very noisy with local radio and commercials blasting from speaker stands. upon entering, however, instead of the postal service, there is a bustling cell phone store in operation. after the collapse of various state services including the postal system, the building was left virtually empty except for a section of the top floor that still runs what was left of the postal service. two years ago, a few chinese merchants negotiated with the city and began setting up display counters for cell phones inside the atrium and now the post office predominantly functions as a store that sells many imported mobile phones. anyway thought it was interesting!