Day 5 (June 20, 2010)
Yesterday was a very bizarre day indeed. Ever since Robert and I bought our cell phones (which was quite the experience in and of itself) for around 13,500, I’ve been low on cash on hand. Robert can’t access his checking account from here so I’ve been doing all the spending thus far, which really isn’t so bad considering the exchange rate. I decided to go back to the bank to withdraw money for food and such. My my my.
It was one of those cab rides where the cab driver packed us in like a fat boy shoving in fistfuls of popcorn. The bank is a pretty good distance away so I would probably have to pay 250XAF for it. The cab system here is peculiar in that the fare is always the same—200XAF—unless you go a long way, in which case the price increases to 250 or maybe even 300XAF. How much it takes to get to that point is up to the cab driver’s discretion. As a foreigner, somehow that distance seems to come pretty quickly.
“Bicec Bank please” I stated as the cab slid in front of me. The cab driver simply stared straight ahead, the other 4 passengers of the car waiting in equal silence with equally blank stares. Sweet he’s going that direction, I thought as I climbed in. The cab driver quickly sped off in the familiar direction of the bank. After some time he stopped to let one of the passengers out and another soon was added, her destination unintelligible to me from what she told him. The driver continued down the road, and I saw the bank coming up.
Great I can get out of this stuffy car…
The cab continued past the bank.
The cab continued.
Perhaps someone else in the car has to get out ahead up there, and then on his way back down the road he’ll let me out.
The cab driver turned to me and clearly began to ask a question in complete French.
“Something something Bicec something something?” he said.
Hmmm… “Yes I’m going to Bicec bank.” He appeared angry at this point.
“Something Something Something Something Something!”
I’m not sure what he’s saying…perhaps if I just kind of stare ahead… and look stoic…
The cab car pulled to a stop on the side of the road.
“Something something something” someone in the back quietly said.
Yes, yes, he must be mad at him (in the back). He couldn’t be mad at me…I very clearly said Bicec bank.
Unsure what to do, I continued to sit in silence, staring at the driver out of the corner of my eye. He appeared irritated at first, but then exceptionally angry.
“Something something! Something something something! Something!” He shouted. At this point everyone in the car started joining in. I even fancy I may have felt a slap on the back of my head. “Something!”
Ah hah, they must want me out of the car.
I opened the door and struggled to squeeze past the lady crammed next to me, “Pardon me, very sorry, no funny business intended I swear, very embarrassing indeed” as I brushed against her and out the door. I handed the cab driver 500XAF, he gave me 350 back and sped off.
Why did he give me 350 back? So cheap? And I’m a foreigner…
I looked up and saw the long walk back towards the bank.
Shoving the coins in my pocket I began the trek over to the bank. Later, standing in front of the ATM machine, I would realize that I had left my wallet back at the house.