Melissa, Thanks for your wonderful stories! Please keep sharing your
>From: Melissa Enderle <email@example.com>
>To: "ArtsEdNet Talk" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>Subject: Taxis in Mali
>Date: Sun, Mar 31, 2002, 5:18 AM
> Greetings from Mali, where it has graduated from being very hot to what
> I would like to term as blasted hot. After putting out the thermometer for
> about 10 minutes, the temperature was 107°. Just imagine what it must have
> been right out in the direct sun!
> Because many of the overseas hires teachers don't have a car here in
> Bamako, we take public transportation. The idea of taking a crowded baché
> shoulder to shoulder with sweaty bodies doesn't appeal to me, so a taxi is
> much more palatable. Rather than try to hunt down a taxi each time we want
> to go somewhere, we have chosen to use a taxi driver who has proven to be
> That's where Mr. Coulibaly comes in. He is a quiet, reserved fellow who
> doesn't get hyped up or upset by crazy drivers, animals blocking the road,
> craters in the dirt roads, or shoppers who decide to stay a little longer
> than planned. He (like most Malians) does not have a telephone, so we make
> plans the previous time we are with him. Mr. Coulibaly always shows up on
> time - not Malian time, which can be up to several hours later. We willingly
> pay a little more for his courteous, timely service, but don't feel like we
> are taken advantage of simply because we are toubabs - white people.
> Riding in Mr. Coulibaly's yellow Renault taxi is a memorable experience.
> Like most cars in Mali, it is in need of repair. In the back seat, the doors
> provide you a choice. One door allows you to crank open the window for "air"
> (albeit the dusty polluted Bamako air), but you have no door handle with
> which to shut the door. The other door has no window crank, but you can shut
> the door properly from the inside. Depending on the luck of the draw, you
> will get the door which will on that day open both from the inside and
> This past Monday, after finishing our errands, we jumped in the taxi.
> The grinding noise we heard on the way there seemed to be louder. Within
> blocks after starting, the car stopped. Unlike previous times where a push
> would help start the car, the engine would not start. Coasting to a less
> busy road, Mr. Coulibaly parked the car and then proceeded to look at the
> spark plugs. A man strolling by immediately stopped at the taxi. Wearing a
> strange hat, psychedelic shirt and a mysterious grin, he assessed the
> situation and paused. Taking off his hat, he outstretched his hands in a
> "Y", seemingly asking for strength and power. He continued his "duty" until
> Mr. Coulibaly closed the hood after changing the sparkplugs. Mission
> accomplished, the man smiled, put on his hat, and walked on.
> Proceeding cautiously on, we were now within walking distance of our
> homes - should the car break down again. Deciding to take advantage of
> having transportation, a teacher asked Mr. Coulibaly if he could make a
> quick stop at the small grocery store ahead. Although he would love to, Mr.
> Coulibaly wasn't sure if he should, especially with the traffic police
> nearby. Explaining further, Mr. Coulibaly admitted that he wasn't sure if
> his car could turn left here. With the lane clear, the taxi successfully
> turned left, proceeding towards the grocery store. Safely at home, we gave
> Mr. Coulibaly a little extra money towards the repair of his taxi.
> Like most things in Mali, even taxi driving is an adventure.....
> | Melissa Enderle |
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> Melissa Enderle