The Charm of Mexican Taxi Drivers
I was hot, my feet were getting tired, and I was pretty sure I was somewhere near my hotel. I had taken a taxi from the hotel to the huge market in Tonalá and decided to take the TUR bus back for 11 pesos, rather than spending 80 pesos on a taxi. I thought I was so smart. I knew the basic area in Tlaquapaque were I needed to get off, but I didn’t account for Semana Santa (Easter week) and the fact that some roads were blocked. As such I completely missed my stop and ended up sitting on the bus all the way to the end of the run, then looping back to where I was suppose to get off the first time, except the bus driver dropped me off in a slightly unfamiliar area.
I had a little battery power left on my iPhone so I checked Google maps and started walking. It didn’t look too bad. Unfortunately my phone died and I had to go by memory. So, there I was, walking in the heat, thinking I was super close to the hotel and on the look out for a taxi. I was tired. I didn’t care if the hotel was around the corner, I was getting a ride the rest of the way. With the hotel business card in my hand I waved down a taxi, and went to ask the driver to take me.
“I know you! I drove you to the market”, exclaimed the driver. I took a closer look and sure enough it was him. “I’ll take you to the hotel, get in”, I smiled and let out a sigh of relief, then climbed in and sat down. I sat back expecting to arrive at the hotel any moment. Imagine my surprise to discover that I was nowhere near the hotel. Like NOWHERE!
When I realized just how lost I had been, and how lucky I was that he came along, I decided that I’d pay him 100 pesos for the ride (it probably would have been around 70-80). When we arrived at the hotel I got out of the taxi and went to pay the driver. He refused.
The following morning when I needed to move to a hotel in downtown Guadalajara I was greeted by the same taxi driver. He smiled and took my backpack. And when I arrived at my new hotel he walked me inside, kissed me on both cheeks, and once again refused to take my money.
Guadalajara was my first experience with Mexican taxi drivers in the interior and it opened my eyes to the magic and beauty of Mexico. And know, I have not gone off my rocker!
There are so many negative stereotypes floating around about Mexico that when the locals prove those stereotypes wrong, I get all giddy.
It’s like a magic show… “Here is an old smelly ball, but wait!” POOF! “It’s a sparkly diamond!!!!!!” OOooooo!! Awwwww! I never knew it was a diamond THE WHOLE TIME?!
That’s what it’s like to travel in Mexico.
So yeah, discovering that Mexicans are awesome was like magic. And since Guadalajara was my first stop in my journey through interior Mexico, my taxi experience really set the tone for the rest of my trip.
I LOVED the taxi cabs in Taxco! Then again, who wouldn’t?! They were ALL CLASSIC VW BEETLES!!!!!! The taxi cabs were white, with orange circles painted on the doors displaying the taxi number.
The inside of my taxi was wallpapered in black and white (the style name escapes me), giving the inside of the car a classy upscale feel. The front passenger seat had been removed, making it easy for me to climb into the back, and the perfect space for my backpack to rest. I then sat back and experienced the steep cobbled streets of Taxco which wound through the mountainside town in a way that made me grateful that I wasn’t behind the wheel!
It’s kind of romantic, riding in a classic VW Beetle, driving on narrow steep cobbled streets, passing taco stands and silver shops. And for the price of 200 pesos anyone can hire a taxi to take them to the various sites in the city – you can probably talk them down. I think.
In Oaxaca I spent my first two nights at Hacienda Los Laureles, which was a boutique hotel located in the San Fellippe area. While the hotel was lovely, it was far enough away that I needed to take a taxi (or local bus) into the city center. Now, while I would have taken the bus, Oaxaca was in the midst of a crazy hot heat wave and frankly the idea of an air conditioned ride was far more appealing even if it costs 50 pesos.
On my way into the city center to meet Suzanna Babezat from Mexico Guide for lunch I chatted with my driver who then gave me his cell number for when I was ready to go back to the hotel. Score!
Lunch was lovely, although the hummus was insanely small! When it came time for me to take a taxi back to the hotel I called my driver.
“Hola! It’s Pam. Can you pick me up?”, I asked. My driver spoke very good English which made life super easy.
“Okay. I be there in 15 minutes”, replied my driver.
Easy peasy lemon squeezy, as my niece would say.
A few minutes later I received a text message. “Hi. I am done work. My friend is coming to get you. He will be driving the same car. He knows your hotel.”
Seriously?! Never in my life has a taxi driver sent me a text message to say he couldn’t pick me up after all, but he was sending a friend.
Mexico is filled with amazing experiences. The people are absolutely delightful, and although the taxi drivers in hot spots like Cancun (where they ask you if they can pick-up additional passengers, or stop to pick-up their wife from work) can be frustrating, it is not indicative of the rest of the Mexico. Then again, it’s all about your frame of mind at the time, and how you approach each situation.