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I leave my house for work and get called over by two village women awaiting their chance to do business with the chief. The first smiles...

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Transportation Tuesdays: Befriending Your Taxi Crews

Getting around in Lesotho without a personal car is surprisingly easy…if you have a lot of patience and even more time. Public transportation—in the form of large vans and small buses-goes almost everywhere, but the taxis make frequent stops, will not leave a population locale unless full, tend to cram as many people and supplies in as possible, and blast music at deafening volumes. Over the next month or so, I will be sharing a series of posts called Transportation Tuesday, which will highlight different aspects of transportation in Lesotho.

Last Tuesday, I covered Why to Become Besties with your Taxi Crew. Now that the value of being BFFs is clear, it is time to understand how to accomplish this important task.

How many PCVs can you fit in a taxi with their luggage?
As many as necessary if it is raining and everyone is ready to "
head back from three days of Christmas shenanigans!
Smile and Wave-ALWAYS
Even when you are not riding the taxi, you will see them drive through your village regularly. Always smile and wave. Bonus points if you do this before they honk and wave at you.

Greet With Enthusiasm
In Lesotho, this is the quickest way to gain friends and respect. The taxi drivers and conductors are no exception. As soon as you approach your rank, greet them. If you see them across the way, refer back to Smile and Wave.

Lend an Umbrella
When you’ve scrambled through a downpour to get into your taxi and the conductor is still standing outside trying to get more customers, offer him your umbrella. Not only will it keep it from dripping on you, but you may get to watch him do a little dance about “using Ausi Thato’s umbrella.”

Joke Around and Be Friendly
Just like airports in America, public transportation can bring out the worst in people in Lesotho too. Sometimes, they just want to arrive and they get impatient and sassy with the taxi crew because the taxi is not filling fast enough. While waiting hours to leave can suck, it does not suck just for you. The taxi crew only gets paid when they are actually moving people; they would like to leave too. So be nice to them. Socialize. Play along when they start joking around. You know, treat them like people.

Sit Down and Shut Up
Sometimes you are going to get a terrible seat. Sometimes even though your bestie gave you the front row, you are going to end up with no leg room because other people’s luggage and groceries are piled high. Sometimes you will think you are sitting next to someone with a couch that has your anxiety screaming tuberculosis. Sometimes the taxi will be overloaded and you will be one of four large women in the same row wondering how all that hip can fit. Sometimes there is going to be a sheep stepping on your groceries.

         No really, get over it.

Refer back to Smile and Wave but adapt it to Smile and Sharp. In Lesotho, “Sharp” means everything’s cool and is demonstrated by a thumbs up. When you are in a miserable spot and the driver catches your eye, just smile and give them a shrug or a sharp.

Do not be that person yelling about how you are only going to pay half because you did not get as much space as someone else. Do not yell or whine. Just accept what you’re given and get over it.

Your crew sees that you’re miserable. They will remember that you’re cool. They will make it up to you next time. 

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