Vanda Kujbus

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Gobabis - Long distance "public" transport

Written by Vanda

It is not that easy to get a ride to Windhoek from Gobabis. The institution of public transport basically doesn’t exist in Namibia, except for a few international bus routes and some local routes up in the north, your only option is to take a taxi for a fixed price, which would bring you to any address you wish for.

Sounds convenient right? But here comes the twist:

Taxis work differently here than the ones we are used to in Europe. It is true that they bring you to any place in Windhoek for 130 NAD (2860 HUF/9 EUR), but the price is for a seat, so if you are not a social type of person and need privacy, you have to pay for all the remaining seats in the car. This explains a lot! That’s how we ended up paying 500 NAD last time!

Until recently we haven’t paid so much attention on taxis, but since we need one ourselves now, we start seeing a lot of cars around. They are not registered anywhere, and they are standing in long long lines in 3 different "stations", seeking passengers. At home we would call them entrepreneurs. Here they call each other "another problem".

taxi cars standing in line
taxi cars standing in second line
taxi cars standing in third line

We don’t even need to say anything, our fat backpacks attract the drivers and we get an offer in less than 15 seconds. We ask how much, but we also look touristy so we receive an offer of 150 NAD per person. Hmm... That’s not really the price we were told... Yeah, but the price has increased, he replies. Nice try bro, thanks but no thanks. We haven’t even walked 2 meters when another guy comes by and says he would bring us right away to Windhoek.

It is essential to emphasize the importance of „now”, as Gobabis is not a big city, if you don’t want to pay for other seats, which you obviously don’t want, you just stand and wait. Sometimes even hours. One could say that time is money, but luckly in Africa no one expects you to be on time.

We have to be there at 1.30 PM, and still have to buy a tent. The trip is 2 hours,  and we still struggling to get rid of European punctuality habits, so we play safe and aim to depart at 8.30 AM and wondering it might be too late. Especially on a Sunday.

So we are told that we can leave instantly, and we naively give him the money to fill up his tank but then he disappears for a few minutes. Since he already has our money, we have no choice but to wait for him. Smart! Our souls belong to him now, but he comes back soon and says we need to pick up a couple from the „location” and then we can go. Well, I guess this is the closest what we can get to „leaving right now”. Not that bad.

While we wait, we start chatting. His name is „Speedy”, and seems like a nice guy, much nicer than the one who brought us here. I’m tempted to come back with him, but I don’t even need to say anything, he says he will bring us home. Good, better establish a good relationship with one guy instead of chosing someone new over and over again and hope that we won’t find ourselves once deep in the bushes without our kidneys and wallets far away from the road.

Speedy, our driver

In the meantime the remaining 2 passengers arrive so we are ready to leave. And it took only 1 extra hour! Better than expected!

picking up passengers on the location

I’m trying to read a book so don’t pay much attention to the road when all of a sudden I hear the engine roaring up and forces push me deep inside the seat so I look up to see what’s happening. Speedy is flooring the accelerator at 150 km/h on the straight road. Ahha! So that’s where your nickname comes from!

Normally I would be scared but since it’s only a straight road again with almost no cars, I’m not worried. What could possibly go wrong?