Finding a reliable taxi driver who can arrive on time and move you from place to place without any of the typical hassles can stave off the impending borderline insanity for a few more days. But if you happen to get a crackpot driver, remember to roll with the punches, keep smiling and stick to your guns.
*taxi arrives at the hotel*
Shem: Hi, how are you?
Taxi: Morning Sir, I’m good.
Shem: Can you take me to the client office please?
Taxi: Yes, Sir.
*I get into the taxi*
Shem: Do you know how to get there?
Taxi: Yes, I’ve been there before.
*taxi starts driving*
Taxi: Two days ago.
Shem: Ok, how much are you going to charge me?
Shem: What!? You must be joking, I only paid 6,000 to get there yesterday.
Taxi: But I have a good car with air conditioning.
Shem: The other taxi had air conditioning.
*driver looks around the car*
Taxi: But my taxi has a CD stereo, did they have a CD stereo?
Shem: Yes, they had a CD stereo. Stop the car!
Taxi: Oh, it’s not safe to stop here, lots of traffic on the road.
Shem: Yes, but all the traffic is going in the opposite direction. Pull into that driveway!
Taxi: But we haven’t arrived at the office yet.
*taxi continues to drive*
Shem: Yes, I know, stop the car!.
Taxi: Give me 18,000.
Shem: No! I’ll give you 6,000 — take it or leave it.
Taxi: Come on, it’s nice to be nice, meet me half way; 17,500.
Shem: Half way to what? I said 6,000, no discussion!
Taxi: Rafiki (friend in Swahili), the petrol prices are very high now in Tanzania.
*taxi continues to drive*
Shem: Really, how much is petrol now?
Taxi: Veeerrrry expensive.
Shem: I doubt a litre of petrol has tripled in price overnight. Pull over, I’ll get that other taxi standing under the tree.
Taxi: Oh but that a bad taxi, not safe for foreigners. If you leave your phone in that taxi you will never get it back. I’m a good honest taxi.
Shem: That’s funny, he said the same thing about your taxi last Friday.
Taxi: Hahahaha, oh Kaka (brother in Swahili). Let’s make it 16,000.
Shem: You know, this isn’t my first time in Tanzania and I’m not some fresh-faced Mzungu (white person in Swahili).
Taxi: Wow, you speak Swahili?
*taxi driver looks at me in rear-view mirror*
Shem: I speak enough to know I’m being taken for a ride. Unakwenda wapi? (where are you going).
Taxi: I need to buy some petrol, the car is almost empty.
Shem: Is that why the AC isn’t on yet, you trying to save petrol?
Shem: At least we’ll find out how expensive petrol is today.
Taxi: I can get you to the office faster without fill’n up – for a little gift.
Shem: A gift? You mean a tip?
Taxi: Everybody likes a small gift, you know, it’s nice to be nice.
Shem: You want a tip on top of the 16,000 you’re already asking?
Taxi: No, it’s a gift.
Shem: Can you give me a receipt?
Taxi: If you want receipt the price is 20,000.
Shem: Don’t worry, I don’t need a receipt, but I’m not paying more than 6,000.
*now standing at the petrol station*
Shem: Oh look, petrol is only 2,200 per litre.
Taxi: Yes, Veeerrry expensive.
Shem: This is a small Toyota, you can do about 100km per 7L of petrol, about 14km per 1L. The office is only 7km away and it will only cost you 1,100 to get there.
*taxi driver ignores the statistics but smiles and starts pulling away from the station*
Shem: Why are you charging me so much and not being nice?
Taxi: Rafiki, I have a large family and it’s not easy to make a living.
Shem: Looks like you’re doing quite well for yourself with a new touch-screen phone like that.
Taxi: Oh no, I didn’t buy it — it was a gift.
Shem: Did you find it in the backseat of your taxi?
*Taxi driver bursts out laughing*
Taxi: You’re a funny Mzungu.
Shem: Why don’t you turn on the AC, it’s very hot today.
*click, click, click*
Taxi: Oh, I forgot – I have a small problem, the AC doesn’t want to turn on today.
Shem: It’s Ok – how about we listen to the news on the radio instead?
Taxi: Rafiki, the radio doesn’t work – only the CD is working.
Shem: Great, let’s listen to some CD music.
Taxi: I don’t have any CD’s, they were all stolen.
*I burst out laughing*
Shem: So the AC doesn’t work, the radio is broken and you don’t have any CD’s to play — what’s so good about your taxi?
*we pull into the client office carpark*
Shem: Here’s 6,000 as we agreed. I don’t have any more.
*taxi driver grumbles*
Taxi: I can pick you up – do you need a pickup?
Shem: No, I don’t know what time I’ll finish.
Taxi: I give you my number, you call me when you finish and I pick you up.
*taxi driver gives me his number*
Taxi: Now call me, so I have your number.
Shem: Sorry, I don’t have any credit. Bye.