Once again .. we were too late to get seats in the first taxi ( #1 in pic ) .. which, although evidently full, didn't leave until half an hour before we eventually did. We weren't too disappointed as our car* looked much newer .. and being first in the queue, we had the choice of seats. Tickets were bought ( CFA 20,000
each ), our baggage .. free this time .. was left with the driver and his assistants ( apprentis ) and we went to find breakfast and explore the market.
Factfile 6: Being first in the queue for an empty taxi
gives you the choice of seats .. depending on your size and preference .. and an educated guess as to exactly how many people will be crammed inside .. the normal seating plans for Peugeot 504s being 3-4-3. Despite being around 90 kilos and almost 2 metres tall .. given the choice, I usually chose the front seat next to the window. For two main reasons .. a good view of the road ahead and the ability to hang out of the window with my camera .. praying that the guy between me and the driver would not be of a similar size. Sometimes I won .. sometimes I suffered !!
An intriguing dichotomy in West Africa is the security of your
baggage in taxi-garages .. places notoriously known for attracting all sorts of petty criminals. Take your eye off your bag for a moment and it might suddenly gain legs and disappear .. but once you have paid for and received your seat ticket .. you can hand over your bags to the driver or one of his apprentis.
In 15 years of African travel, my bags have always been perfectly safe. Whilst it is impossible to know who is who amongst the throng of people hanging around .. there are always one or two lads, similarly attired to the
rest of the crowd, whose job it is to guard all the passengers' bags until the taxi departs. Sometimes an apprenti will travel with
the car, giving peace of mind to all during the many rest stops, breakdowns and other assorted happenings .. when it is impossible to watch your bags for yourself.
Thousands of people had arrived for market** day .. with the usual array of food, clothing, hardware and livestock on offer .. but nothing in the way of old beads. Only many traders offering strands of new beads and cheap modern jewelry, imported from the Far East and India.
Breakfast over, we wandered around the markets stalls .. stopping occasionally for tea, coffee or a cold soft drink .. the temperatures being in the high 30's C. Popping back every half hour or so to check on
the progress of our taxi filling .. 6 seats to go .. 5 seats to go etc. etc. A light lunch of cedi ( rice, sugar and evaporated milk eaten out of half a calabash ) was taken, and the hours dragged on ..
interspersed with bargaining for a baseball cap (CFA 1000) necessary to keep the hot sun off my head and a new pair of sunglasses (CFA 1500 and surprisingly good !).
Alaghi returned from a stroll round with small cotton masks on elastic for the pair of us.