Taxi, taxi!

Hailing a taxi in Peru is an adventure unlike any I have ever had before. To be fair, before my time in Lima, I don’t think I had even taken a taxi by myself. I remember a few taxi rides from my first trip to London when I was just a little ten year old, but of course, my dad was with my. During my time abroad, I mostly took other forms of public transportation: trams, trains, buses. The few occasions that I did take a taxi was due the to unbearable weight of all of my luggage and that was only to move from airports to hotels to dorms. Even then, myself and several other people all crammed into one taxi.

Unlike the bright yellow, easily distinguishable taxis on New York City, Lima’s taxis are much more subtle, usually the only identifiable symbol is their taxi number in yellow on the side and perhaps a light on top that reads “taxi”. Though New York City has an abundance of taxis, it is quite possible that Lima has more taxis per one hundred people than even the Big Apple.

And what about those fares! They are outrageous, sometimes several dollars just for stepping in the cab and then more than a few cents extra for each quarter mile and passing minute. In Lima, it’s all about the bargain. After hailing down a taxi, you tell the driver where you would like to go. He’ll usually tell you a price one or two soles above what it should be. At that moment, it is up to you to decide whether you want to bargain or simply get in the taxi. If the transaction doesn’t work out, the taxi driver then drives away, the pedestrian flags down another taxi and the process starts all over again. It’s usual to overcharge tourists, my light brown hair and American accent give me away, so Alvaro has kindly given me the appropriate fares for each of my destinations, I’ve been channeling my inner Peruvian and lately have been quite a successful bargainer.

The biggest rule of taking a taxi in Lima is always, always agree on the price before you get in. Otherwise you’ll end up paying a much larger fee once you reach your destination.

Favorite taxi moments so far:

  1. The driver who called me “preciosa” as I got out of the cab. You can make the translation. Not necessarily my favorite moment, but it was nice to have Alvaro waiting for me on the sidewalk.

  2. After leaving lunch, two days ago Alvaro hailed a taxi for me. I sat down and immediately realized that the taxi driver looked like a Peruvian version of my dad’s brother! The resemblance was uncanny. And better yet, he was listening to the Micheal Bublé Christmas Album.