Thursday, January 14, 2010

At the Taxi Stand

The taxi stands in Ghana are where you can catch a taxi to a specific destination. There are many taxis at the stands and they have signs on top of them telling you where they are going. Each car will not depart until every passenger seat is filled.

Getting a taxi this way is at times much cheaper than trying to just hail a cab on the street and having that driver take you to the destination. Sometimes the taxi stand cars will be .40 pesewes (about .27 cents) to a destination while hailing a taxi on the street and having him take you to the same destination will cost you 2 cedis. (about $1.30). On a limited budget I'll try the taxi stands over the cars on the street when possible.

The cars on the street are not always more expensive. Some of them have regular routes they take and in those situations they are reasonably priced. A car outside of the house we stay in heading into town always costs .40 pesewes. There's no taxi stand and there are always cars heading that direction so they all charge the same.

But in town there are two taxi stands. I had to use one today because I went to the Elmina Slave Castle. (The blog about my visits to the slave castles is coming) I found one car to Elmina with one seat left but someone jumped in that seat before I could get to the car.

Once the cars are full and about to leave the sign is taken from the top of the departing car and passed to the next driver in line to place on top of his car. As this car to Elmina left I waited for the sign to make it's way to the next car.

Once the sign was on the car I sat down in the front seat. I like riding in the front seat in taxis because the drivers drive really fast here and the seatbelt usually only works in the front seat.

This particular taxi stand is wall to wall cars. It always amazes me how they are able to actually get cars in and out. The cars are constantly switching positions, but at first glance it just looks like gridlock.

There are young boys and women walking between the cars with parcels on their heads full of things to sell to drivers and passenger. Biscuits, ice cream, bread, water, and soda are among some of the things being sold. Anything one might need or want for the ride and beyond.

There is music blasting from some of the surrounding shops and from the waiting taxis. As usualy I can't understand a lot of the songs. I am starting to recognize some I have heard often. I have a few favorites. I really need to find out the names so I can get them.

Waiting in a taxi can be an interesting experience. Because the stand is so loaded with cars it is unbelievably hot even with all the windows rolled down. You also have no idea how long you will have to wait because the car will not move until all the passenger seats are full.

Your wait time could be any amount of time. I've probably only waited at most 15 minutes if that much. Today I waited 3-5 minutes before the back seat filled with 3 more passengers and we were on our way to Elmina.

Here's the view of the castle as the taxi pulled into the city:

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