Tuesday, 23 February 2016

The Taxi Collective: Resistance is Futile


In North America, it would be highly irregular if you were in a taxi and your driver stopped to pick up additional passengers.  There would likely be an "Excuse me, what the hell are you doing?" as part of that conversation.  And then no tip.

It took a while to get used to, but there is no such thing as "this is MY cab" here in Windhoek, Namibia.  The "collective taxi" concept is the norm.  Because there are no public transit buses here, it's like the taxi industry functions as a bus system of sorts - they'll take you where you need to go, but you don't know what route you'll take to get there, how long it will take, or who you will be sharing your ride with. 

Cabs are ubiquitous and cost 10 Namibian dollars (about 85 cents Canadian) to go anywhere within the city.  Good deal, really!

All taxis are 4-door sedans.  Happily a "full" taxi is usually 4 passengers (3 in the back, one up front), but sometimes they will try to fit an extra person in the back.  A driver at a shopping mall may wait until he has four or five passengers heading to the same part of town before he'll leave.  And if the car isn't full, he'll honk at potential passengers along the way.

On our first day, when the driver tried to stop for an additional passenger with us already in the cab (and not yet knowing about the collective), I glared so fiercely at the incoming passenger that she stopped with her hand on the door handle, turned around and left.  

And there was the time when the driver had a passenger up front, the three of us were in back and he was going to let a really big guy into the back seat with us.  Ixnay, buddy, move on.

I'm happy to say that we are now fully at ease with the concept, and think nothing of joining a cab in progress or welcoming additional passengers in flight.   After all, when in Rome...

Image result for taxi

Click here to see the rest of the pictures from our world trip so far: Trip Photo Album

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