Myspace Mood: Chipper
Well, Emily and I have been getting around Bissau now for five weeks by walking, taking taxis, and bumming rides from our teammates when we're headed to the same places. We can walk to church (20 minutes), the vegetable market (15 minutes, though Ade gets our veggies since she gets a better price because of her skin color, lol), the internet cafe (25 minutes) and the center is next door. The taxis here are cheap by American standards ($.60 each way to the internet cafe), but are still expensive when you consider that it costs $1.20 to check our email. Walking is always an option, but now that teaching has started we frankly don't have the time. The other problem we've found with taxis is that we'd like to explore some more of the city, but you can't really get in a taxi and say "take me somewhere". :) So, we have found an elegant solution to all of these problems: the TVS!
Earlier this week, after thinking it over for a few weeks, we found a great deal on a scooter through a friend of a friend situation. We had figured that owning a scooter would be about the same price as the taxi rides we take to the internet cafe each week if we found a good deal on one and could sell when we leave for about 60% of what we paid for it. The import duties are high in Bissau, so the local ones were about $1000 each. We were planning a trip to a border town called Gabu where you can get them cheaper, about $700. The friend who had this scooter had brought it in for the Ministry of Finance, but once he got it here they decided they didn't have the money to pay for it (oh the irony - governments work a little different when they can't just print more currency, haha). So anyway, it had 600km on it, looked brand new, and had all of the papers already completed (a major advantage since the bribes required to take care of said paperwork are much more expensive if you're white), and he only wanted $680 for it! We found out about it on Monday and had it by Wednesday. Yesterday we got a helmet at the market, found some two stroke oil, bought a used 20L vegetable oil can for gas (the standard yellow/red ones like in the States aren't used here, since used veggie oil cans are $2, lol. The gas stations will dispense gas into ANYTHING, so it's not a problem.), and got 15L of gas ($6/gallon).
I've wanted a motorcycle for a long time, as many of you know. It's an insult to real motorcycles to call this one, but I took it out today for the first time and it's definately going to be fun to tool around on! It goes about 35mph, I think it can probably do 55 if I really wanted it to. It only has one gear, and is a lot like riding a bicycle that you don't have to pedal. :) But who knows, maybe it will be a nice step up to a motorcycle once we get home! So anyway, for about the same price as the taxis we can be a little more mobile and go explore the city a little bit.
Tune in next week for a quick update on things here and to find out about Guinean dress!