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Taxi Bamako

Did I ever tell you guys about the time I was mugged in Peru? Here’s a link to my old blog (in French), if any of you guys want to read what I wrote about it at the time.

For those of you who don’t read French or who don’t want to open a separate browser window, here’s the gist of it :

In 2005, I spent a year abroad, studying at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Quito, Ecuador. In May 2006, at the end of the school year, Marina (former roommate and travel buddy extraordinaire) and I decided to take off for 6 weeks and tour Peru and Bolivia. Seasoned ecuadorian travellers that we were, we flew South from Quito to Loja, a 75$ flight that saved us 18 or so hours on the bus. We got to spend time in the beautiful city of Loja and the amazing valley of Vilcabamba and from there, we boarded a bus to Peru. I couldn’t tell you how long we spent on the bus, but it was quick and easy. We got dropped off at the border in Piura at around 4am and stood around for 2 hours amidst giant leaping grasshoppers until the guard that we could see behind the window woke up. So, around 6am, we were waved through the border, walked across the kilometer long bridge, and ended up in Peru. From the edge of the country, we boarded another bus to a town called Chiclayo and promptly fell back asleep.

Once we got to Chiclayo, we had a couple of hours to spare before boarding our next bus to the historic (and supposedly very beautiful) city of Chan Chan. We had heard that there was a really great witch market in the town of Chiclayo, but we had our backpacks with us and didn’t want to cart those through the market, so we made the risky decision of leaving our stuff at the bus station. Unheard of, right? We thought about it and decided that the smartest thing would be not to leave any valuables behind, so we took our passports, ipods, cameras and everything else worth anything with us.

In retrospect, I still think that we did the right thing, but we got really unlucky when our taxi was accosted. The first thing I was aware of was a guy pulling my camera out of my hand, while Marina, always a bit quicker than I am, was pulling me from the other direction, trying to get me out of the taxi. I looked to my left, where the guy had started pulling on my bag, and I started pulling back until I saw his gun. Um, hi, potentially dangerous stranger! Please take all my things!

What does this have to do with Bamako?

In Bamako, it’s really common to share taxis. This I didn’t know before getting here. Oftentimes, the taxi pulls up and there’s already someone in it. Generally, I don’t like getting into those taxis unless the other passengers are women. The other night, we were driving through town in a crazy rain storm, and all of a sudden, this man runs up to the taxi and tries to open the door. Well, that definitely freaked me out. Turns out that the mugging in Peru had a bigger impact on me than I thought, and I’m always skittish when taxis stop on the side of the road now. Hopefully that goes away soon!

For your enjoyment, here’s a link to a song called Taxi Bamako. I didn’t make the video, but thought it would give you a fun idea of what Bamako looks like. Enjoy!