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Posts Tagged ‘taxi’

In just a few short days my surroundings are going to be changing pretty dramatically. No more goats, chickens, lizards, tro-tros, balancing acts, orange dirt or public urination. No more smelling fresh-cut oranges and coconuts in one breath and sewage in the next. No more shouts of ‘obruni’, proclamations of love or hissing for attention. I’ll see bits and pieces elsewhere, but not this unique combination.

Nine weeks really flew by, and not just for me. I have many stories to catch up on when I get home. New jobs, a baby, another year of school, traveling around the U.S., fall sports, new experiences, new cities; all of which I’m looking forward to hearing about.

But I will miss Ghana and its colors, vivid and full of life. Just like the people, the music and the culture.

Green and yellow.

And, just because, some humorous taxi incidents that happened this past week. I won’t really miss any of this:

  • My taxi ran out of gas. At least, that’s what the driver attributed our crawling to, but it’s hard to say when the dashboard doesn’t work. I made it home, though, after he hailed another taxi for us.
  • I announced my wedding next year. That is, after a different taxi driver professed his love for me. Then he saw the ring (on my middle finger) and was distraught. I decided to go with it and started talking about my ‘fiance’. He was silent the rest of the way.
  • When I arrived at my destination (this is a third taxi), the driver informed me he had no change. So, I waited while he ran around the street asking other drivers to break my 10. He had no luck and instead bought me credits for my phone, which I needed anyway.

Tomorrow I’m waking up early for a boat ride!

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What’s that sound?

I didn’t sleep very well last night and I can pretty confidently attribute it to two things:

  1. Couldn’t stop thinking about/scratching the worms in my foot.
  2. I had my first day at The Business and Financial Times of Ghana.

So when I dragged myself to the taxi station early this morning, I was half awake. Therefore I saw no problem with my taxi driver taking a ‘faster way’ around the traffic. I just wanted to get there.

Naturally the route was unpaved and we were being tossed around. It was lulling, really, until I was suddenly brought back to reality when the driver got angry and loudly ‘hissed’ at a car that cut us off. That’s a surefire way to up your heart rate.

SSSSSSSSSSSS

Need to get someone’s attention? Many Ghanaians use this technique. It’s not exactly a cat ‘hiss’…it comes out in that same quick way, but is more of an ‘s’ sound. It’s rarely used in the angry way my taxi driver used it, but never say never.

Leo again. He's actually meowing but it could pass as a hiss.

Another noise used to get your attention is a lip puckering noise. Like someone’s giving you a big, noisy kiss on your cheek.

CREAKING

The suspension on this taxi also seemed to be shot. Not surprising and not a first, just loud given all the bumps we were navigating through. It sounded like bad bed springs, especially right near my wheel.

CLAPPING

My first day at the paper went well, once I finally found my way to their offices. I went with one of the reporters to two press conferences.

First we went to a business conference of sorts in which local companies were having a competition for entrepreneurs to have their business model funded. The speakers offered good insight about Ghana’s growing economy and how to sustain growth.

The second featured a bunch of musicians who were performing a concert tonight. American R&B artist Trey Songz and model Amber Rose were there along with a Nigerian singer and several Ghanaian groups. It was a cool experience, especially since I probably wouldn’t be able to get that close at home.

I’m not a huge fan of either, though, plus Rose said, ‘I’m used to just being quiet and looking pretty most of the time’, in regards to the fact that she was co-hosting the concert and was afraid of doing ‘something stupid’ on stage.

MORSE CODE

For some reason that’s the sound I associated with my tro-tro ride to the taxi station. We sat in traffic for a long time and the hollowed out tro-tro that didn’t seem like it should be able to start would rattle while we were stationary.

In particular the gas pedal rattled and at such a fast speed that, again, I thought of morse code. Then I thought of the movie Balto because I remembered they used morse code in it and from there I’m not sure where my thoughts drifted off. Right now they’re going to dream land. Night and thanks again for the continued support!

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A matter of perspective

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 canopy walkway at Kakum National Park.

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.

I just had to keep moving forward!

The trees surrounding us were never forested and, therefore, very tall.

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.

The mate changed the tire in about 15 minutes.

Taking pictures of the scenery while waiting in the rain.

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.

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