Dakar, Senegal 9am
I choked down some bread with jam. I stepped outside. A well-dented yellow and green machine pulled up to the curb.
"Where to?" The taximan was wearing sunglasses and a blue fez. Between his teeth was a long stick of wood.
"Are you ill? I don't want to catch anything."
"I work there." He cackled and waved. I couldn't be bothered to negotiate a price. I was late. Very late. I lumbered into the front passenger seat.
"Welcome aboard." His French was perfect. He reached across me and into the glove box. He produced a crank and stuck it into a slot in the door. My window went up. "Sorry about that," he said. "But passengers stole all the other ones."
We pulled away from the curb and blasted into traffic. We bobbed and weaved until we became ensnared in a jam at a roundabout. The smell of exhaust and the heat were overpowering.
"How do you like my crate?" he said, the stick twitching on his lower lip.
The man smiled. "No it isn't. And that's the point. This car says I play to win." He then pointed at the lamented arabic script on the dashboard. "You know what that says?"
"It says 'In chaos, I find peace.'"
"I like it." With that he deftly found a gap, jumped three lanes and barged his way onto a tiny side street. "Short cut." We came to a gate and entered a park.
"Our crook president wanted to sell this park to the Chinese," he said ruefully. "There was a zoo as well. The deal went south but who knows about the animals? Hell of a banquet, eh?"
30 December 2015