When $2.03 is too much

I’m watching this taxi drive away, indignant that he wanted to charge us 15 cedi ($3.80) to drive less than 3 kilometers down a main road. It’s no big deal, I tell myself – and Chandler – we’ve never had problems getting a taxi before, another one will come along.

We continue walking…the length of our road, the length of the next, and we find ourselves on the main road with cars speeding past.

The difference is, tonight is the night before Founder’s Day, and we quickly learn that either everyone in the city is hopping into a taxi to celebrate or most of the taxi drivers have decided to stay in tonight. Whichever way it is, the only taxis we see as we walk along are full.

Now, we’ve never had to walk all the way to the main road before. Once we hit it, we’re not sure the taxis will stop. There isn’t much of a shoulder and they’re driving by at pretty high speeds. We hang out in the bus lane.

A few minutes later, a taxi pulls up. I’m not really sure where we’re going, so I let Chandler barter with the driver. He claims to know where we’re going, but says it is much, much farther than we think. He also says the traffic is so bad we must pay extra for him to return. Return where, I think? We’re going to a traffic circle about 2 km away and then turning around and coming back another 1 km. He’s barely going anywhere.

Chandler gets him down to 8 cedi ($2.03), but by now, I’m so frustrated I won’t accept anything more than 5. He drives away. The next taxi won’t go below 10 cedi.

Yes, I realize I was offended over a price difference of 76 cents. I blame my time in Peace Corps. Back in Ethiopia, when haggling over taxi rides, we were outrageously over-quoted. Trips that should have cost 20 birr were being quoted to us as 200. A price difference of $1 to $10 – a big deal for us at the time, because our salaries were made in local wages.

This time around, we’re getting paid in dollars, but some of those indignities still come roaring back.

So instead of paying $2.03, we walked. About 3 km in the pitch-black darkness on unknown terrain that we had only previously passed by in taxis. We were going to a party – so I was in my party shoes…or, my wedding shoes to be exact : )

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Chandler walked ahead, shouting out (above the screeching cars) warnings about various potholes, puddles, and otherwise muddy areas. We arrived at our destination 35 minutes later.

Once there, I felt a little silly. We were hot, a little sweaty, and my shoes a bit worse for the wear. My only consolation was an admission from our host that it probably took us less time to walk than it would have to taxi…turns out there was a bit of traffic.

I’ve promised Chandler I’ll try to be a bit more flexible about prices next time. I’ll also probably forgo the wedding shoes in exchange for my chucks on future evenings out…when in Accra, I guess : )

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