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8 May 2019 / leggypeggy

African taxis keep us laughing

Broken windscreen, Africa

A typical African windscreen (windshield)

African taxi

Poor John gets in the front

Not long ago in Nzérékoré, Guinea, West Africa, I was reminded of a lift we were given in Barnaul in the Altai district of Russia. Five years ago, Elena and her husband kindly offered to give us a ride to a bank so we could change Kazakh money to Russian roubles.

She explained in English that they had just come from the police station where they had been completing paperwork. She went on to say ‘Go ahead, get in the car. If you aren’t afraid!’

That phrase ‘if you aren’t afraid’ pops into my mind every time I get into an African taxi. Yesterday we rode in three taxis in Dakar, Sénégal. All three had cracked windscreens (windshields), at least one door that didn’t open from the outside or inside (scoot across), windows that didn’t open, and two of three drivers who had no idea where they were going.

African taxi

Petrol cap and door missing

African taxi

Back end of a station wagon taxi

The first driver couldn’t read and didn’t speak English or French, only Wolof (the local language). We didn’t realise all that until we reached our destination and even the fellow at the hotel (who spoke four languages) couldn’t communicate with him. He had to run up the road to find someone else who spoke Wolof.

But the most memorable taxi ride of this trip so far has been the one in Nzérékoré. Dee, Ellen, Poor John and I wanted to go to the large artisan complex on the edge of town. Of course, the taxi driver had no idea where it was, but we had a scribbled map. Hahaha

As with every African taxi I’ve ever ridden in, the windscreen was cracked. But there’s more.

African taxi

Ellen scoots across and avoids the hole in floor

Doors worked on only one side of the car and had to be yanked open, there was a large hole in the back seat floor, the petrol door and cap were missing, The back end and car ceiling had lost their fabric coverings, and the taxi had to be pushed to get started.

Of course, we weren’t afraid, but we laughed ourselves silly and all got in. The driver made the mistake of turning off the engine when he dropped us off (yes we found the complex), and had to be pushed again to get started. The taxi home was about the same, but didn’t need to be pushed.

African taxi

Getting a push after we get out

Artisan complex in Nzérékoré, Guinea

We found the artisan complex

46 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. ksbeth / May 8 2019 9:29 pm

    Funny 😄

    Liked by 1 person

  2. efge63 / May 8 2019 9:29 pm

    Ahhh my God!!! I admire your courage!!!! Kisses !!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. MichaelStephenWills / May 8 2019 10:00 pm

    yikes — we have stories from taxi rides in Boston.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 9 2019 12:07 am

      Would love to hear them. Any links to a post?

      Like

  4. Sande Olocho / May 8 2019 10:45 pm

    It isn’t funny, but all I can say is, “Africaaa!” :)😎😊

    Liked by 1 person

  5. philosophermouseofthehedge / May 8 2019 10:51 pm

    Life is full of “I love Lucy” moments. Thanks for the smile

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lynette d'Arty-Cross / May 8 2019 11:01 pm

    Aww, safety. Who needs it? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  7. beetleypete / May 9 2019 12:16 am

    I think it is all part of the experience, in such remote countries. That said, I had some ‘exciting’ taxi rides in Istanbul, many years ago. And in Nairobi, the taxi drivers refused to stop at junctions or red lights, telling us that we would be robbed by men hiding in the bushes! 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 9 2019 12:18 am

      I think the most frightening taxi ride of my life was in Istanbul. We lived, but I don’t know how. Don’t recall having a madman taxi driver in Nairobi

      Liked by 2 people

      • Sande Olocho / May 9 2019 1:37 am

        Did I hear Nairobi?
        The taxis in Nairobi are neat and are all linked to an App. They have both Taxify and Uber.
        Good service, accountability, safety and insurance guaranteed.
        As the headquarters of UNEP and the regional Forex reserves, they try.
        I can vouch for that.

        Like

      • leggypeggy / May 9 2019 3:23 am

        Oh wow, it’s great to know that Nairobi’s taxi system is so efficient now. Other countries could follow their example.

        Like

  8. Sy S. / May 9 2019 1:50 am

    Taxi or not to Taxi, that is the question. What happened to the basic bicycle and passenger cart behind. seems foot pedaling power is always a sure thing for getting to around.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 9 2019 3:22 am

      Good idea, but Africa doesn’t have any pedal-power transport unless I sit on the handlebars of someone’s bicycle.

      Like

  9. Gilda Baxter / May 9 2019 3:07 am

    Very funny. ..and memorable for sure 🙂 I remember once in Egypt our taxi driver having to hit his car engine with a hammer to get it started 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. macalder02 / May 9 2019 5:39 am

    The adventure is not complete if it is not for the small details. The taxi, even sounds funny despite all the inconveniences. But they are still on the road and with many new features.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Phil Huston / May 9 2019 7:12 am

    There are places in Mexico where the cabs rival these. Probably some places in Miami!
    But the real question is — did you find the complex artisans and was their art complex?

    You’d think a guy with a push start ride would park facing downhill…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Phil Huston / May 9 2019 7:14 am

      And the windscreen thing could be anybody who got behind a gravel hauler in Texas. He said, having had that windscreen on several occasions.

      Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 9 2019 7:57 am

      The art was good but we’re not shoppers. Ellen and Dee bought things. Thanks for explaining the windscreens. Plenty of gravel haulers here.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Phil Huston / May 9 2019 9:38 pm

        Or just funky roads where rocks get thrown up. The lack of scam artists under pop up shade in gas station parking lots offering to fix your window chips “at no charge” might be part of it. And we’ll come to you and replace your auto glass because you’re busy with little league baseball. The beauty of your pictures is the human spirit alive and well with makeshift materialism.

        Like

      • leggypeggy / May 10 2019 4:12 am

        Africa has its share of scam artists. Not so much scam artists as come-into-my-shop-no-charge-for-looking dealers. And where in the world would there always be someone handy to push your car?

        Like

  12. J.D. Riso / May 9 2019 9:25 am

    Hilarious. I just love your sense of adventure. So inspiring.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 9 2019 2:13 pm

      We’re taking a taxi later this morning. I wonder how bad it will be?

      Like

  13. Son of a Sailor / May 9 2019 12:15 pm

    Great story and photos. Reminds me of Tuk-Tuks in Thailand but the most dangerous of all are in Afghanistan!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Alison and Don / May 9 2019 1:31 pm

    Oh joy! I’ve been in some pretty dire taxis but none as bad as these. But hey, you got there!
    Alison

    Like

  15. Emma Cownie / May 9 2019 5:51 pm

    Utterly brilliant, and here’s me worrying about the slightest squeak or rattle my car makes!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. derrickjknight / May 9 2019 7:23 pm

    Wonderful

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 10 2019 4:10 am

      Today’s taxi had an intact windscreen, but he did a 52-minute trip in 35. Still catching my breath.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Sharon Bonin-Pratt / May 9 2019 10:45 pm

    What, no Uber?

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Dreamtemples / May 11 2019 12:49 am

    Is there a story behind the cracked windscreens?!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 11 2019 4:41 pm

      Every windscreen must have its own story. The roads are rough and there are many hazards.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. pvcann / May 12 2019 12:19 am

    That could, I kid you not, be outback Australian cars.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Chris Riley / May 12 2019 9:40 am

    A great laugh to start the day. Who did the pushing?

    Liked by 1 person

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