One of the biggest challenges in trying to get around in Abidjan is not speaking French and navigating taxis while doing this. Taxis are color coded according to where they go and the orange ones go everywhere even the airport and the beach which is over an hour away. So I have learned a couple of key phrases to help with this. I know how to direct taxis to my address because even though there are names for the streets, the taxi drivers often don’t know them. But if I say dans la rue de Eco bank or Riveria 3 which is my neighborhood; from there I can direct them up the street by saying (a droit) take a right, (a gauche) take a left and (tout droit) go straight until they arrive at my doorstep. As is the case in any country, taxi drivers will try to overcharge foreigners and they don’t have meters so you have to negotiate before you get in. At night the fares will often increase because they know that you are less likely to want to wait. Often when they quote me some ridiculous price I will say no and start to walk away and most times they will be more reasonable.
It doesn’t matter if I take a taxi using Yango, the taxi app, it still comes with challenges because the driver will still call me to ask where I am despite seeing the pin on the map. This can be a challenge since I cannot understand French. What’s nice about Yango is that you don’t have to negotiate price and the driver should have a GPS so it’s easier to go further out even if I don’t know where the place is located. Sometimes maps works so I can use it to direct a lost taxi. Every time I get in a taxi that is taking me out of my neighborhood I don’t know what will happen; it’s an adventure of sorts.
Most taxi drivers don’t try to talk to me because they realize from my poorly pronounced🤣french directions that I don’t understand them. They may say American but that’s pretty much it after I say parlez anglais. Once we went to the grocery store after work and on our trip home we got a taxi driver who was friendly. Once we got in he asked if we spoke french to which we said parlez anglais so of course he asked if we were American and two of us replied oui. I was sitting in the front seat next to him and when I said oui he kept looking at me and asking over and over if I was American and shaking his head no. Then he said no, no South African to which I just laughed. Since I didn’t have the language to say I am from Barbados I just kept saying oui Americaine but he was not convinced. At one point we just started talking amongst ourselves and he started to imitate us by saying “wow, wow” and of course we all started laughing which just encouraged him to keep repeating us. He even said Obama cest bon, Clinton cest bon, well because he wanted us to know that he knew about American politics. I am sure he went home and told this story about the three women who he picked up and the black woman who was dressed in African fabrics but said she was American although she looked African. Because I love african fabrics and most of my work clothing consists of skirts or dresses made from these colorful fabrics, it makes sense that people keep wondering if I am indeed who I claim to be. 🤷🏾♀️😏
About a month ago I reached out to a private driver who spoke English that I found through a travel group to take me to the airport. When he called to ask me where I lived he didn’t know the neighborhood and did not have GPS on his phone. Luckily the building manager was able to give him directions. He showed up with his girlfriend 🤦🏾♀️ which I thought was weird but whatever. On the way to the airport his tire blew a short distance from the airport. He flagged someone down who took me and her to the airport. Luckily it was a short distance…whew, not sure I will use him again though.
Recently I met a Nigerian taxi driver who took me to the Ghana Embassy and I thought this could be promising because I can use him to take longer trips. But when I called him about going to the beach his price was significantly higher than it should have been I guess that was the expat price🤔. Luckily I was able to reach out to the PE teacher from work who has a business where he works with private drivers who found a driver that was willing to take me to the beach town Assinie with a couple of hours notice. I paid $30K CFC or $50 for the day and the driver waited for me until I was ready to come back; the other guy quoted me $50K CFC. Assinie is about about hour and half without traffic so I knew it could take about 2 hours to get there. However as traffic can be insane here especially in evening hours it took me 3 hours to get back…Geesh. Next time I know I need to go early so I can leave there by 4 pm even if I decide to stay the night. The trip to Assinie was worth the drive because it was so much less hectic out there, the food was good and it was nice to sit by the ocean even if I didn’t get in the water. The beach was decent and calm unlike the one at Bassam but the water is not blue so the #beachsnob in me will continue to search for nicer beaches. 😎 #bajangyal
I know that I will continue to have interesting taxi experiences here but having options have made it easier for me to venture outside of the city. I look forward to seeing more areas and i feel likeI’m getting betterat navigating the taxis. #BlackExpat #blackandabroad #ebonyexpats #expatdivas #Blacktraveljourney #blackwomenwhoblog #thelittlethingsinlife #LifeinAfrica #mytraveljourney