I haven’t felt very fearful while I’ve been here, and any time I have it’s mostly been attributed to driving. Which is why I shouldn’t be surprised that my scariest experience yet took place this evening in a taxi.
I guess I thought that the suspended walkways in the canopy of Kakum rainforest would terrify me most. But, no! Those weren’t too bad once you started moving and got over the fact that it felt similar to walking the plank (or so I’ve heard).
The guide had asked us beforehand if anyone was afraid of heights. I didn’t raise my hand, even though I am. It seems to be situational for me, though, and depends greatly on how safe I feel. He assured us that ‘the only way anyone would fall is if they jumped.’ There was no way I was going to do that.
So, once I got over the wobbling of the bridge it was very worth it. The view was beautiful, even though the animals seemed to be hiding from the very obvious tourist trap.
It also wasn’t too terrifying when, on our way back from Kakum, the tro-tro got a flat tire. I was confused as to why we were still driving, then realized the mate was hanging out of the window watching for the tire to completely deflate. Of course. I figured he had it under control, and sure enough he changed the tire in no time.
But back to my taxi driver. I never got his name so I’ll just call him Ted. He said he’d take me for 10 cedis, which was a fair price, so I got in. Well after I closed the door he said, ‘you’re a rich white lady…give me 12 cedis.’ I laughed and told him I was a student and not rich and left it at that.
Well Ted was an interesting driver and aggressive honker. I’ve gotten used to people randomly speeding as fast as they can for a short stretch and switching lanes constantly.
Ted decided we were above that, though, and just got into the opposite lane to pass a long line of cars that were waiting for the light to change. He then got angry when no one would let him in. (Really? You’re surprised?) Another taxi finally did, though, and we waited in traffic some more.
Today was pretty hot, so I wasn’t surprised when he pulled out his handkerchief to wipe off some sweat. I was surprised when he first put the handkerchief inside his shirt to wipe out both armpits and then wiped his face. If you’re going to do that, at least switch up the order.
His disdain for congested traffic continued, but at times he just laughed at it deeply or spoke to himself. At one point he got out of the car, engine running, and it took me a second to realize he was peeing on the side of the road. The next time it happened, I understood. It’s common to see men peeing on the side of the road, I just didn’t realize it also happened while waiting for traffic. And, of course, Ted got angry that people passed his idling car while he was peeing.
Lots of honking, hard braking and random muttering later we made it close to home and I decided I would walk the last stretch of the way. And, I did end up paying him 12 cedis because traffic was bad. Then again, so was the ride. I’m just thankful that I have yet to experience worse.