Taxi Trouble

Trip Start Sep 01, 2006
Trip End Dec 15, 2006

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Flag of Senegal  ,
Sunday, November 26, 2006

I just can't get enough of Saint Louis, and I wanted to follow up on some research, so last weekend I went back to northwestern Senegal to spend some time with Sam and our crazy uncle, Dimbo. Riding in the taxi for five hours and having to stop halfway to Saint Louis in the desert-like atmosphere of rural Senegal because our taxi broke down gave me a great deal of time to think about why I hate taxis and their drivers in this country.

I can't go through a single day without hearing over twenty taxis beep at me, some from hundreds of yards away. Sometimes I think that taxi drivers think that all toubabs want to be in a taxi at all times. It's obviously not possible for a toubab to want to walk from one house to another on the same block or just to a boutique down the street. The taxis fight over toubabs like they're the best merchandise in the country, but I can name quite a few reasons to steer away from the yellow and black cars.

1) I have two legs that are (unbelievably!) able to move and get me from one place to another.
2) I don't want to bargain with you, agree on a price that's too high (toubab special), and then have you complain about how I should be paying you much more to go just a few miles.
3) Your windshield is cracked. If your windshield is not cracked, you obviously haven't been driving very long and I don't want to get in a car with an inexperienced driver.
4) I've seen the tire-replacement process, and it's not pretty. I'm almost positive the tires that we get taken off in the United States because the tread is worn down are sent to Africa so that we don't have to worry about burning those tires in a field and polluting our American soil.
5) Your doors don't close, and when they do, you can't get them open again because there are no handles left. Perhaps if you used doors that actually match the frame of the car, the doors would work properly.
6) Your taxi smells. If it's not the exhaust or the car seats that smell, it's your body odor. Any amount of air that flows through the open windows does not remove the smells.
7) Your gas gauge ALWAYS reads empty, and your speedometer NEVER works.
8) Your "needs service" light is also always on. I'm truly amazed at how some of these taxis are still running.
9) You probably don't have a valid driver's license, or, if you do, you've probably lost it once or twice in the past week for driving on the wrong side of the road.

If these reasons aren't enough to show why I hate Senegalese taxis, there's always the fact that a taxi ran over my foot. I can't WAIT to get home to my car (if I remember how to drive)...
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