When I arrived in Bujumbura nearly four months ago, one of the first things to assault my senses was the traffic on the roads. As we drove into the city from the airport, my travel weary brain struggled to cope with chaotic progress of the vehicles that occupied the tarmac (mud, sand, stones) It's hard to describe how different the atmosphere is on the roads here, compared to Hinckley (Leicestershire). One of the glaring contrasts, has to be the presence of Moto-taxis. These small motor bikes weave in out of the traffic, on and off the road, pipping their horns wildly at anything that gets in their way.
Not long after I arrived, I got these pictures of a Moto-taxi with passengers. Yes, 3 passengers, plus a suitcase!
So, where is all this leading? Yesterday, I had my first ride on a Moto-taxi!
I have joked a few times about going on one, but never really seriously meant to do it. Yesterday however, I really needed to get from A to B. The choice was a bus into town-walk round the market-bus out of town or a Moto.
So on I jumped. Rachel, squealing something about, wishing she had a camera!! She didn't, fortunately. And off I went.
My suspicions rose a little, when a series of other Moto-taxi drivers manouvered their bikes next to us. Clearly, with the express purpose of 'having a good laugh' at the muzungu on a Moto-taxi!
Why do they find this such a novelty? I wondered. Is this very unsual?
There then followed a real battle inside my head. Mrs Health & Saftey raised her whittering voice. "Look at you sat on the back of a motor bike. Nothing covering your arms, nothing covering your legs and sandals on your feet. Your helmet is wobbling all over the place. You'll crack your skull open if you fall off."
"SHUT UP!" Wreckless Me, shouted back.
" If you fall off, you'll take all the skin off your arms and legs. You'll loose toes."
"Well, I'd better not fall off then, had I."
No sooner had Mrs Health & Safety finished. Than, Mrs Back Seat Driver piped up. " He's going ever so fast. Watch out for that car it's slowing down. How's he going to stop, if he needs to? Oh dear we're coming up to a junction and he's not slowing down. Watch out for that lorry! "
Wreckless Me, decided it was best to stop trying to peer over his shoulder and do his job for him. Maybe I should just concentrate on relaxing and leaning with the bike, when we swerved in and out of the cars.
After what seemed like an eternity, of hurtling along a number of very fast roads, the Old Woman began to moan quietly. " My arms are aching, I don't think I can hold on for much longer. I'm 50 years old you know. Maybe I'm too old to be doing things like this."
Wreckless Me, became quite afronted at this point. " For goodness sake, all you've got to do is sit here. If you look at all the other Moto-taxi passengers, they don't appear to be clinging to their bikes, do they?" One lady passenger seemed to make quite a point of smiling sympathetically, whilst sitting with her arms folded in front of her. Doing a good impression of someone resting on their settee at home. It was all I could do not to poke my tongue out at her childishly.
The final leg of our journey took us up one of the bumpiest roads in Bujumbura. This apparently did not require any reducing of speed. It was just a case of weaving in and out of the ruts and bumps. We arrived outside the house, to deliver my final piece of entertainment. Both the house workers, sat on the wall, grinning from ear to ear! I decided to pay 2000fbu (almost a £1) out of sheer relief that I had arrived alive and well.
The strange thing is, that I think I will do it again. But just me next time! Mrs H & S, Mrs B-S-D and Old Woman are not invited.