Wednesday, 23 March 2011

fun times travelling

Yesterday I went to the Maternity clinic for a few hours of meeting staff and orientation prior to starting working there next week. Trying to get there involved some fun and games, but this is Africa after all, and some things you just expect to be different. The taxi driver I phoned said leaving at 8am was too early so we found one who agreed to meet me at nine. He had assured me that he was nearly there just after nine so I explained that I would walk out of the Port to try and meet him the other side of all the trucks lining to road down to our Port Gate. I spent the next hour meeting the whole of Freetown, or so it seemed, advising them about which day to come to have their teeth sorted out, telling women with goiters and men with hernias to come to screening on Saturday, explaining to people that I really did not have any bread or sodas on me, and fending off lifts to all sorts of places from all sorts of people heading around Freetown who thought I might like to go with them. Having white skin sure makes you stand out in a crowd, although somehow the taxi driver manages to walk past me and get to the port gate on foot. He had arrived shortly after 10am, but his car was parked somewhere else because of the container trucks all trying to get in the Port. So his first suggestion was to get a taxi to his taxi (!!) but then we decided to walk it. So we finally set off about half past ten heading towards Aberdeen at the usual painfully slow speed in Freetown. So other than being a little bit hot and bothered all was well until the car cuts out. Actually the first time it cut out and wouldn't turn back on the driver just called some men over and they pushed it so he could restart it so that wasn't too much drama. The second time was more fun as he kept asking people and they all said no, yelling something at him, I think because he was holding up the traffic. It involved people waving arms and hitting the car until finally someone did come to our rescue. The other times it cut out we were on downhill stretches and got it going again. One other thing to mention is they don't have traffic lights here, they generally just have traffic police at every junction, who direct you and pull you over at random (or so it appears to me). My driver had to show his documents to one policeman, then was asked to get out of the car at another junction and had a chat with the police lady, about the passenger tyre or something, anyway in the end he told her he was late, and so off we went again. We finally did arrive in one piece and the journey home was uneventful, he had apparantly sorted out the problem with the starter plugs, or whatever it was and the traffic was actually not too bad considering the time of day. Next week though we're testing whether he will actually arrive at 6am to get me to work by 7am, should be fun!!

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