Congo · taxis

Benedict XVI taxi

Benedict XVI

 

This is actually my favorite thing about Pointe-Noire.

Pointe-Noire taxis have to be painted blue and white, and the design is chosen by the taxi driver or owner and the paint-shop guy from a supposed book (which I will hunt down and find). The taxis themselves are all Toyotas, except for a couple of models, including a Mazda and have all had a previous and very long life somewhere else in the world, generally, oddly enough, in Belgium. So by the time they get to Congo they have about 200,000 kilometers on the odometer and are from the 80’s, 90’s and increasingly from the 00’s. The fact they are all older Toyotas is great because you can interchange spare parts, but the fact they are old is a drag because it’s hard to find prehistoric spare parts in 2012.

Now we get to the good part.

Because the Congolese have such a great sense of humor, instead of calling the taxis by their make and model, they gave them nicknames that correspond to their shape. Some of them are priceless so I’m not going to ruin the surprise of this series.

This one is called the Benedict XVI after the papal mitre (the hat he wears). If you look at the horizontal profile of the mitre instead of how it usually seen, atop the Pope’s head, you’ll see the resemblance.

And yes, you can use it in a sentence:

“Hey, do you know that other cab driver who was here yesterday, the one who drives that Benedict XVI with the airplane hood ornament?”

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