As I was riding home today in a group taxi (about 30 U.S. cents), we stalled in a long line of cars on a narrow street. It was raining. The driver pulled a small packet of soap powder out from his dashboard, reached through the open window, and sprinkled some on his windshield. In a few seconds his dirty window was freshly washed and clean. "We do a lot of things in Africa," he said with a laugh.
Traffic gets backed up when it rains; commuters may be in a taxi for an hour or more going just a few miles across this city which, from the point of view of geography, is stunningly beautiful. Streets are narrow and with sidewalks either non-existent or having gaping holes exposing the sewer lines just below, many people, including myself, walk on the edge of the roadsides. Taxies whiz along when they can, missing people by inches. With no stop lights, many roundabouts, and only a few traffic police, you'd think nothing would move at all; but it does.
And taxies, even with four customers (the three-seaters have up to eight or nine; and the mini-buses are packed), can be a good place to practise Krio, the English-based dialect here. "Rain de com plenty" - It's really raining hard.
We've also come to appreciate the driving skills of several taxi drivers we use frequently by the hour for multiple errands and visits around town. They often are just a cell phone call away.
Today in the rain, I jumped into the first available group taxi downtown and only later asked where it was going (they have fixed routes). It was heading to within a mile of our guest house. And I got to see the window washing. On the walk the last mile I bought some fresh bread rolls (15 U.S. cents each), one with condensed milk poured on it; and I purchased a couple of soft drinks at a street side stand from Bob. Police recently tore his stand down - perhaps for lack of permit - but he put it back up the next day.
We had considered buying a car here, but my driving skills don't match those of taxi drivers.