There are certain scenes that get repeated in ex-pat writing about Africa. There’s the oh-so-fast sunrise, the trip to see a friend’s village, and of course the whole travelling-down-the-Congo-river-on-a-ferry-while-traders-canoe-alongside-on-seemingly-unstable-hollowed-0ut-tree-trunks. The classic scene of course, which most of us are sick of reading, is the ‘interminable wait for a bus to leave’ story.
A few days ago, I took the Bandama Transport bus from Adjame, Abidjan to Tiassale where I have family. The ticket price is 1,000 cfa ($2) for a single. Instead of being the lonely foreigner sitting on the bus musing philosophically about African concepts of time, I was the last one on, and the coach left, nearly full, within five minutes of my arrival. The driving was safe and the roads good until the last 10 minutes. The company now even has air-conditioned coaches, which cost an extra 200 francs, though I wasn’t lucky going there or back. Coming back, we left exactly on time, with plenty of spare seats – the aim was punctuality rather than being 100% full.
Of course, there was a travelling salesman on the way back telling us of the amazing healing properties of a product he was selling, but that’s a story for another day…
(I’m back in Dubai after an amazing three weeks in Cote d’Ivoire, which will hopefully digest into several blog posts in the coming days and weeks.)