Taxi Ride In The Ghanaian Countryside

“What are you smoking?” he barked inches from my face. Confused and completely caught off guard I spat out the truth.

“Nothing?! I…I was just taking a picture of my friends” I replied.

He continued. “Where are the drugs?” I tried in vain to explain that I was merely taking a snap shot of my friends – Annie, Rachel and Heather on our way to Busua Beach for the weekend.

I had been so busy taking a picture I hadn’t notice that our taxi had been flag down at a police checkpoint in the Ghanaian back country.

 My truth didn’t fly.

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— Great picture…Totally worth it… —

“Which one of them is your wife?” he growled. “What is going on?” I thought. Is this some kind of trick or just a wildly misguided interrogation?
I sensed the tension rapidly increasing. “All three” I joked, trying to mask my nerves. He wasn’t amused. Too busy inspecting the car, his head completely inside the passenger-side window, I’m not sure he was even listening.

“Get out the car!” he commanded. Shit. I shouldn’t have tried to be a smart-ass. Dragging me into the darkness around the back of the car, he eyed me up.

Dressed in military uniform (full-jungle-camo-mode) he must have been in his 40’s. With puffy cheeks and an over-hanging gut, he still gave off a very clear vibe he was not to be fucked with. I wasn’t sure if he was police or a military commander. Whoever he was, this big, angry Ghanaian man wasn’t playing games. Being in the middle of nowhere in the dead of night, at a checkpoint with armed personnel, I didn’t want to play games either.

Communication Breakdown

Arms-Purchases

—These guys mean business —
(credit to http://www.africametro.com)

“Give me food!” he said bring his thick fingers up to his open mouth. What!? He gestured again with his pinched fingers, putting them into his mouth now. “Food!” he yelled. Did he want me to …oh god no …this can’t be happening.

Did he want me to feed him something… personal? Or worse, was he going to feed me something!?

Like a terrified deer I looked into the headlights of the commander’s glare. Thoughts of me being force to indulge this man’s ambiguous sexual desires flashed by. Now frozen with fear I wanted just to look away, but too scared to move. I was having a staring contest with the Eye of Saruon.

 

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(credit: Lord of the Rings)

“Bribe!!!” he finally bellowed. Oh thank you sweet baby Jesus! Without a second thought I reached into my pocket and pulled out the two first crumpled notes I touched, thrusting them out in my open palm.

My relief was short lived. To my despair there was a grand total of 3 Cedi (about 50 pence) floating in my hand. It was over… I had inadvertently poked this pissed off beast with a stick too many times. I started to grimace waiting for the beat down. This guy’s gonna make pizza my face for sure…

“Go! Get out of here now.” the commander snarled. I looked at my hand again. The 3 Cedi was gone. I wasn’t about to stick around and investigate. I darted back into the taxi, and we peeled away. As we continued to drive to toward our destination, I tried my best to understand what had just happened whilst telling the story to my friends. As we truck on towards the beautiful beach town of Buasa, shock slowly turns to laugher. As the thought of me pleasuring some middle-age Ghanaian colonel behind a tree, became more amusing than it was 10 minutes ago.

 

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— possible sign for bribe???—

Bro Breakdown

*** Important***

I love Ghana. This guy was literally the exception to the rule. EVERY OTHER PERSON I met in Ghana was fun, warm and more welcoming than I ever thought strangers could be. I was also saved a number of times by the love and self-less generosity of random Ghanaians going out of their way to help my clueless ass. Going to Ghana remains one of my favourite trips of all time, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Thankfully I have learnt a lot since the time of this incident.

To check out how I would handle this situation now and for other practical tips on dealing with bribery check out my :

How To Deal With Bribery …Like A Boss

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