on being back: cheat sheets

step 1) lift your hand and make a psst sound

step 2) name your destination and ask for the price

step 3) insist the price is too much. reduce it by about 10cedis

step 4) he’ll reduce it by 5 cedis. continue to insist

step 5) walk away if he says no.

step 6) try to hide your smile of satisfaction when he gives in for your requested price.

taking a taxi in Accra is not easy when your accent screams you’re from outside. it’s interesting how your voice can speak for you and can even communicate your wealth and status apparently. even when i speak a local dialect, my bluff is revealed because it sounds “slurred”. lol

i had already overpaid for taxis a couple of times before learning the truly useful art of bargaining. Accra is not for the weak. it is not for the pushover either. if you’re not aggressive on the road you aren’t going to get where you’re trying to go any time soon especially since many of the roads are rough and most people ignore the rules of the road. i have quickly become comfortable spending an hour or two in traffic while listening to the beep beeps of cars, which have become the instrumentals for most of my car conversations. it seems people honk their horns for the fun of it.

Accra is also not for the generous. those who have made a home of the streets walk from car to car in hopes of getting a few coins for their daily meal yet cars with slogans on them like “Jesus is Lord” and “God is number 1” roll up their windows against the noses of bone thin kids. i learned that there is a fear of sticky hands. people fear their phones may be snatched if their windows are down. i’m reminded of the quote: one day the poor will have nothing left to eat but the rich.

page 2.

step 1) name your food and the price you want it for. in that order. (the price you call dictates the amount you will receive)

step 2) tell whether you want your meal packed in leaves or a foam pack which will cost you extra.

every day during my break at work i eat at the same place. i order the same meal: jollof rice with black pepper and goat meat. i always pay 8 cedis for this meal. the first time i paid for my meal, naturally I included a tip out of gratitude because the lady did not have enough money to give me change. the lady seemed a little surprised that i let her keep the extra few cedis, and a grin spread across her lips. it wasn’t long till the women of the shop grew to know my face as a regular and even chat with me about my day, my hair, and my internship.

one day i overheard a co-worker of mine mention that she is so happy how cheap food is. her meal only cost her 4.5 cedis. i was eager to know where she got such a super cheap meal and what she ordered. to my dismay her meal was the same as what i always order, and from the same place too!!!

lesson #1) do not tip. tipping is not really a thing here unless you are at a restaurant,and even then don’t get carried away. Apparently because I’d tipped the first time I bought something at that store, the lady began to add her own tip to my meal every time.

lesson #2) speaking to someone daily does not make them your friend

chale, e be rough for a young returnee out here. lol



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