Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Taxi Brousse top trumps - the rules

Whilst travelling around Gambia, Senegal & Mauritania on the cheap, public transport takes on a very important role & during our trip we became more & more aware of the myriad workings of what I like to call 'Bush Taxi Top Trumps'

To play you need

1 x vehicle - preferably in fairly dubious repair

You score a point for

a) Shattered windscreen - no taxi journey really seems complete without this addition - the only exception was our last taxi ride to Nouakchott Airport (see also 'ramshackle', 'random-maybe-airport-workers-maybe-not-airport-workers' & attempting to extract money')- where the lack of this important feature was made up for by broken wing mirrors(see point b) & a rather half-hearted attempt to charge us double what we'd agreed 10 minutes earlier (bonus point!)

b) Broken wing mirrors - another essential you score extra if they are actually hanging off or non existent

c) Eccentric starting feature - this may take the form of having to put the car into reverse before being able to get into first gear, an eccentric method involving the driver opening the bonnet while the passenger in the front seat turns the ignition or the good old 'passengers getting out & pushing' routine

d) Overcrowding - 6 or more passengers plus the driver is a solid score in a normal car - preferably involving 2 people in the passenger seat plus 4 adults & child in the back (bonus point for 6 hour or more journey plus double score if child throws up undigested meat chunks in your vicinity!)

e) Broken headlight - self explanatory but lends the vehilcle a certain rakeish
asymmetry if one is hanging off or similar

f) Sketchy handbrake - extra points for necessity of 'getting out & putting rocks under wheel'

g) Chronic overloading - extra bonus points for roof rack load which is greater than height of vehicle & double score for addition of goat!

h) Distorted cassette player - double score if it's playing purely Koranic verse for several hours (see Rosso to Nouakchott)

i) Eccentric door opening method (often involves string)

j) Window opening quirks - often just won't open or close but bonus points for features such as 'communal window winder' wherein the driver has to pass you the handle to wind down a particular window

(the biggest bonus though is that often you meet some very interesting people & learn things that you'd never learn in a hired air conditioned 4x4 - even if your arse & you aren't on speaking terms for several days after a journey!

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