Adventures in Guinea as a Peace Corps Volunteer

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Riding on Taxis

No, that is not a grammatical error. I had my first experience riding on top of a taxi. Before you determine that I am crazy and that it is not on. A US car that seats 8 has the great advantage of being an 11 place car plus children/babies and any random live animal that someone bought at the market. Often times it is safer to ride on top of the car as the risk of the door flying open and you falling out of the car to your death is greatly reduced. In addition, much more picturesque, airy and safer than you think as the car cannot go over 15mph due to the condition of the road. AND who has not tried car surfing before which is clearly more dangerous.

It has been awhile since I had ridden my bike from Lelouma to Labe. I guess it's true that the first thing to go is memory. I forgot how hard it was to bike up and down the mountains on the washed out road with big rocks and rain troughs. After 15 HARD k of biking, sweating, cursing and a quick calculation of 47k left, an angel appeared behind me in the form of a Guinean bush taxi puttering up the mountain. A few minutes earlier I pulled off my bike helmet, dismounted my bike and began the 20-30 minute push up the biggest mountain on the route. My site's beauty comes at a price.

The taxi pulls over, a few words are exchanged, I hoist my bike on top with the 2 other guys and I climb up the back of the car. The car takes off as I am finding a place to settle. I strike the pose of a cowboy trying to ride a bull. I grab the metal bar mounted on the top which happened to be in between my legs. As I am getting settled, I realize it is not a bull that I am sitting on but rather a live goat. The goat seems to agree with the situation so I settle in and enjoy the beautiful valley views for miles until I am forced out of my admiration to deal with the present.

The goat changed it's mind and is now making a fuss, trashing, screaming and generally unhappy. My 2 fellow toppers calm the goat but I wonder if it is trying to tell me that maybe it needs to stop to use the bathroom. So I decided to ask the question I really don't want to learn the answer to. My compatriots decide they don't understand the bleeps that the goat is making so they just press on it's stomach to determine if there is anything in the waiting tank. Not sure if goats work the same as humans but I learned from my very knowledgeable friends that if you are in fact constipated that running your stomach in a circlular manner will help to relieve the problem. I held my breath, endured the bumps and watched as my new friends stabilized my bike as it dangled over the edge of the car and the mountain. Knowing somebody was on my side that day, the car rolled to a stop at the next village and I jumped off without crap on my face or anywhere else. Biked the next 40k to Labe calmly and contenly.

Fortunately or unfortunately for the interest of this story my ride with PC from Labe to Conakry yesterday was much less eventful. Hope to have the same luck tomorrow when I head back up-country.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mariama, I am waiting for the dude to fix the furnace (heat for the first time since I've been here!!) and had time to catch up on all your blogs. I don't know how many times I've laughed out loud! Sounds crazy and amazing, all of it. Thanks for writing it down for us :). Love, Mary Amy

4:26 PM

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