One of my favorite parts of life in Bissau is the taxi riding experience. First off, taxis here are mercifully cheap – almost never more than 50 cents a ride. Then, the city is so small, that it makes taking taxis seem optional, unless the noonday sun is beating down on you. You flag a cab down and tell the driver how much you’re willing to pay. If you can’t come to an agreement, you can always just walk.
Generally, you’ll agree –the drivers know you can walk anywhere, so they don’t hold you hostage.
To be honest, the fact I even bother to take taxis at all is a testimony to my laziness or American unwillingness to walk anywhere.
Taxis in Bissau are super easy to spot. Mostly old Mercedes painted a light royal blue color, they are comfy, pretty spacious, quite clean, and plentiful.
There are tons of Taxis in Bissau
In fact, the only real downside is that taxis here are shared, which means, you may be riding with up to 4 people at a time. The pro-tip for surviving the shared experience, especially if you’re carrying a handbag or are in office clothes, is to ride in the front seat (if you can snag it before someone else does). Riding in the back, means sometimes having to make nice with a market lady who takes up a lot of room and smells like fish, or a guy who forgot his deodorant. You may even get the guy who is arguing with the driver and accidentally spitting on you in the process. That said, most of the time, sharing a ride is a fairly civil experience. Bob Marley or Portuguese (and sometimes French) rap plays in the background, and conversations go on in rapid-fire creole. The car stops here and there picking up and depositing passengers.
Despite what the steering wheel suggests, this nice Taxi driver was actually a Sporting Lisbon fan
Over the past few weeks, taxis have taught me patience: you never know how many stops the cab will make. By the time I get there, I end up realizing that I’d have gotten there faster on foot.