Since I don’t have access to a vehicle for personal use (evenings and weekends) I rely heavily on public transport. Usually that’s fine and it’s pretty cheap to get from place to place and to often just means waiting a little longer, needing to change taxis and being squashed in the car a bit more. Going up to church in Regent for example, the taxi usually has a driver, two people in the front seat next to him, and four people on the back seat. There are no seatbelts in a lot of taxis, definitely not the back seat, and often cracks in the windshield. Yeah, that’s the norm.
Of course, after about 8 or 9 at night for security reasons (or at other times if wanting a more convenient/easy ride), I call someone to pick me up and drop me off at home, mostly because I don’t like walking down my road at night. Thankfully a guy I met 2 ½ years ago, first as a taxi driver, who I then hired as our Welbodi driver for 3 months and who then became one of my best friends here – Osman – is by far the person who helps me get places/home the most. And he is almost always ready for me. However, when he’s upcountry or with a customer for a week, it sometimes means I need to find someone else. And so, if I find a good taxi driver during the day, I might ask for his number so I can call at times when Osman isn’t available.
This evening I needed to go to the store to change money (to help out a patient coming early tomorrow morning with transport money for Guinea) so since Osman is on his way back from Kenema, I started calling. First Mohamed – my number 2 driver, but he wasn’t available. So I called Jeffry, who I recently met, but he didn’t answer his phone. I then called Farah, who drove me a lot in the past, but his car has a problem. So I called Morlai, one of Osman’s friends but he also had car problems. I finally called Rex, one of my friend’s drivers who also has a taxi but he was in Lungi picking someone up at the airport. I quickly realized I was not going to manage to find someone to drive me tonight. Seeing as it was only 7:15, I decided to go right away so that I would be home again by 8:15. And I was, and I was fine. Our road was very busy this evening, so I had nothing to worry about. Let’s hope Osman stays in town for a bit now and that the other drivers get their cars fixed!