Africa Bush Taxi Zinder Niger West Africa Tuesday, October 10, 2006
99 percent of the persons I meet are Volunteers, NGO, and ONG working for government of some country.
1 percent are only tourist, came here to see the sights, the rest came for another reason and then go traveling around to be tourist.
I hear horror stories about Bush Taxis; a Taxi is as best I can tell some foreigner made up label for the Group Taxis here in West Africa. It is like in Guatemala, the Gringos call the buses Chicken Buses, however, the locals do not, and if they did, it would be Spanish.
There are Peugeot Cars, Vans, and small trucks, whatever the size; this vehicle is used to transport people between cities in West Africa. This is the cheapest and easy way to travel from village to village, therefore the dominant way to travel by the person of the country.
The NGO-ONG-TOYOTA Land Cruiser is the vehicle of the Foreigners; maybe 10-30 percent of the vehicles I see is this Toyota. If you see a foreigner in a vehicle, it is a Toyota Land Cruiser, Rover, or whatever.
I have only one time seen a White Person a Bush Taxi while I have been in West Africa, even though I have traveled from Cote d’Ivoire, to Ghana, to Togo to Benin, to Niger by land.
This car is difficult, it travels very slowly, and the distance it covers in one hour is very small. The roads it travels on are normally close to perfect for travel. Straight, flat, wide and in a NGO-TOYOTA we could easily do 70-100 Kilometers per hour, or about 60-70 Miles per hour, with no problem. I could drive across Africa 2 times faster than I could drive across Asia or South America, etc, there are few cars, mostly wide open spaces and the main roads in the countries I have traveled are flat and great compared to South America, or Asia, India or the developing planet that is 80 percent of the planet… hehehe, the normal planet.
I am amused and sad at the same time when I hear the Volunteers and snobs talk about the Bush Taxis. I for sure am not happy with the speed these vehicles travel, and it is annoying how many people they will cluster into on of these cattle cars.
However, I think of all the silly people in Asia that rent motorcycles in Asia and die because they rent a motorcycle. A bush taxis is extremely safe in comparison to riding a motorcycle in Asia.
I think about the number of people who die walking down the road, I know of two travelers who have been killed as they walked down the road.
Walking along the road, because there is not sidewalk or the sidewalk is so full of venders it is impossible, is danger, very dangerous, incredibly dangerous. Africa it is not as dangerous as South America, India or Asia, etc because there is only one-tenth the numbers of cars on the road to make me a target. I only have to be careful of a few cars, and it is the NGO-TOYOTA that scares me the most.
The NGO-ONG put the locals in them here in Niger, they could care less about the life of humans, that is why they are low on HDI, they do not care about human life, then they drive a car as a weapon.
Life is a comparison, they wish to compare Niger to Haiti or Niger to Cambodia, however, they never went to Cambodia, and it is something they read. I hear stories about the USA constantly from people who never have been in the USA, however because they read it, seen in on CNN or BBC it is real.
Well, the sad part to me is this, Africa is an extremely easy place to travel providing you can learn enough French to say directions and buy something. I am finding many of the countries so simple now, I am willing to wander about anywhere, and I can see that this will be my Continent of choice. No tourist, lots of space and easy to travel, and a never-ending new ethnic groups, funky something to see, a great place for person who like to visit the people of countries.
This is almost the perfect place for anyone that has traveled South America as a backpacker.
Now, backpackers are now tourist, they are not suffering as if some did 10 years ago, they are become snobs, trolley tramps, carts, wheels and all sorts of modern conveniences. The bush taxi is like getting on a bus to ride to Rurrenabaque, Bolivia, not fun, but you do it.
50-100 Kilometer jumps are easy in Africa, a new culture normally a change, something new.
A person that reads the Guidebooks should understand, they are not written by people who are poor backpackers in Africa. It was some rich enough to travel anywhere person who never did the tough it trip of 33 hours between Santiago Chile and Punta Arenas because they had no choice.
They are driving around in 4-wheel drive air-conditioned NGO-SUV-TOYOTA they are clueless on being a backpacker. They are recommending consistently a motel that needs car, there is no need for a backpack that you put on you back to walk, they never walked, and they were in a car.
So, the bottom line, is this place is ready for any ready to do South America, Central America traveler, the Asia travelers are more party and get drunk set, and not as tough, the India travelers are somewhat up to snuff, probably would be happy here, easier than India, and 20 times cleaner, no 50 times.
The Bush taxi is not for tourist, and either is South America. However, a good old Backpacker that has traveled or knows South America would have zero problems.
Whatever you hear about the bush taxi, it is not fun, but it is convenient and works.