I take a lot of taxis. They are one of the fastest ways to get around Bamako if you don’t have a car and despite taking your life in your own hands by getting into some of these makeshift metal boxes on wheels overall it’s not a bad way to get around.
A few nights ago I was coming home from a friend’s house, flagged a taxi, negotiated the price, and hopped in. We drove the equivalent of three blocks and the taxi man pulls over to discuss the route and price of another client. This is common place in Bamako unless you tell the driver “Monsieur, je suis un peu pressé” or “Mr. I am in a bit of a hurry.” It can be a real pain when you just don’t want to do more pleasantries and are paying for a ride but hey it’s part of the way it goes aroud here. I try to hold down the nervousness of now being with double the amount of strangers and embrace the cultural learning to what avail I am not really sure.
So a taller, older gentleman hopes into the car and gives the mandatory 5 minute salutation and blessings. We then exchanged him in English and I in French:
“Are you Canadian?”
“Yes! I am! How could you tell?!”
“From your accent. I lived in MOntreal for six months and you have a Canadian accent.”
“That is always nice to hear because so often people think I am from the US”
I then tried my VERY broken Bambara (the local language here) to ask him his name and said the age old classic joke of “ah! you eat beans!” For every last name in the book you can jokingly insult someone when you meet them about a series of things but the classic is to say “ahhhhh Coulibaly (the equivalent of Smith). you eat beans!”
The man, whose name is Dicko broke down into a hearty laugh to hear this hippie white girl tell him he ate beans! It launched one of the most pleasant drives home I have had since coming here and in the end he kindly insisted on paying my fair since he was going further still. We exchanged numbers and we will eventually go for coffee so he can practice his English but it just goes to shoe that beans really are a kind of magical fruit.