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Friday
Dec182009

Taxis in Yaoundé

While there is, in some ways, an art to taking taxis in the capital city of Yaoundé, much of one's success relies on pure luck. Passengers-to-be stand waiting on curbs, often clustered together in places where taxis can easily pull over. Taxis approach, slowing to a roll, and their drivers listen as potential customers state their desired destinations. If the taxi, likely already partially full, is headed in the direction of your destination, the driver will honk or motion for you to get in. You pay per seat (200f CFA is the current standard rate, up from 100f CFA in 2006), and a fully-loaded taxi seats four across the back seat and three in the front (driver included).

Yesterday, while trying to get a taxi, I stood in a line for nearly 10 minutes, my destination rejected over and over, sometimes with the taximen even shaking their head at my suggestion. As the line of waiting customers thinned, the man to my left looked at me and the woman on his other side and said, "Okay. It's a race. Who is going to get a taxi first?" All three of us had been standing there together, watching everyone else get into cabs, and feeling somewhat helpless. The three of us laughed in solidarity, but then eyed each other competitively, and we were off to the races. Cabs came and went, and then finally, one accepted the mans offer. We high-fived him and laughed, and then off he went. I won second-place, leaving our poor competitor behind to wait for who knows how long.

It's moments like those that remind me how much I love being here.

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