Civil war, Ivory Coast-style
It's 10 in the morning in Abidjan, and at least a quarter of the soldiers around me seem drunk.
One man, sporting a gas mask, is offering me a beer. Nearby another heavily armed group is driving off in a car, packed with looted kitchen appliances.
Suddenly there's a burst of incoming gunfire. I duck, then look around. About half the soldiers seem to be panicking. The rest don't even bother to stand up.
If you're wondering why the battle to seize and stabilise Abidjan - one of the biggest cities in Africa - is taking quite so long, just hang out with the invading army for a few days and it will start to make sense.
Of course, there's more to it than bad soldiering.
On a leafy hillside near the centre of Abidjan sits the imposing presidential residence where Laurent Gbagbo remains under siege, trapped in his cellar.
He's a history professor, a former dissident, and a great fan of American westerns. You can work out the ironies for yourself. Although I'm not sure he has.
Having tried and failed to get Mr Gbagbo out by force, his enemies are now opting for a strategy that is bound to offend him even more. They are trying to sideline him.
It's not a bad plan.
The internationally recognised winner of Ivory Coast's election, Alassane Ouatarra, is an economist. He is visibly uncomfortable talking about military matters, and he no doubt understands that getting sanctions lifted, cocoa exported, banks reopened, civil servants back to work, and salaries paid, will win him a lot more support than bullets and windy rhetoric.
This was a prosperous, sophisticated country. It's a mess now, but there's no reason why it shouldn't bounce back - especially if the new government can show some real impartiality, and muscle, in prosecuting those responsible for the atrocities of the past few months.
But there is, still, the problem of Mr Gbagbo.
While he remains uncaptured, the militia groups loyal to him will presumably battle on. Perhaps for weeks.
There are French troops here - and there's a good chance they will get sucked more deeply into this conflict. The same goes for the United Nations. At some point, neighbouring countries may have to send in troops as well.
For now, I'm still moderately confident that this war will end with a winner and a loser, and some sort of stability. The continent - and the future of African democracy - can surely not afford anything less.
But driving round the deserted, looted suburbs of Abidjan, watching out for snipers and militia groups, and wondering who now controls which neighbourhood - I am reminded of another African city.