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Thursday, May 25, 2006

A Taxi Ride

We began Wenesday morning with a taxi ride from Cammie´s friend´s house in L.A. to LAX. It was a tame, 25 minute drive to the airport and cost us $30. Upon arriving in Lima we also took a taxi ride. We arrived at 11pm and didn´t get through customs and get our baggage until midnight. Knowing we would be getting in late, we had made reservations at a hostel (www.thepointhostels.com) before leaving the U.S. and now needed a taxi to take us there. Having been advised that cheaper options could be found we bypassed the airport taxis ($24 to The Point) and went outside to bargain. We found a driver who offered to take us there for $15 and accepted.

Then our troubles started. We ran into another driver who offered to take us for US$10 and decide to go with him. Okay, be prepared, this is a lesson in NOT being gullible and trusting people...

So we got in the taxi and the driver wanted US$2 to pay for parking (now I know that there is no way parking could cost US$2 in Peru). Not having two ones, we offered him a five that he could go exchange in a change machine. He left for awhile and then came back saying that our 5 dollar bill wouldn´t work because it had tears in it. We gave him another to try, again the same thing. We told him that the only money we had was three five dollar bills and he finally said, fine, I´ll pay for parking.

So we´re finally on the road to our hostel in Barranco. Shortly after leaving the airport our driver says, ¨You have to pay in soles because your dollars are torn and my company won´t accept them... US$12.¨ After much debate he said he would take us to an ATM to withdraw money in soles. So we went to an ATM (after driving in circles for a long time, we didn´t know where we were really but we kept coming back to the same spots). At the ATM was another man, another taxi driver (they pretended like they didn´t know each other but it became clear that they did). This is so sketchy, maybe I shouldn´t continue.

Okay, I will. So the ATM machine didn´t work at first and the other taxi driver offered to help. So we tried again and when I got to the screen that asked how many soles I wanted the other taxi driver reached over and chose the highest option, S. 1900, or about US$600. (I told you this was sketchy.) Luckily the ATM continued to not work, because I did not want to have US$600 in a country where the salary for a teacher is about US$200 per month in a big city at one in the morning.

Then we drove in many more circles while our driver ¨looked¨ for another ATM. We found one, with a security guard, and Cammie and I withdrew S. 40 for our taxi driver and some money for ourselves. Then we thought finally we could go to our hostel. But no, after getting back in the car our driver said that his company wanted more money because he had given us three taxi rides (two to ATMs and one to the hostel). I forgot to mention that half of these conversations where on a cell phone to the ¨taxi company¨ (that I am convinced was one of his friends) and in spanish. They asked us for S. 200 (about US$60). So we said take us back to the airport, this wasn´t part of the deal. I tried to convince him to cheat the company and take us the the hostel anyway. He said that wasn´t possible because... (ready for it! (that´s supposed to be a question mark but the question mark doesn´t work on this keyboard))... there is an antennae on his taxi that the company uses to track where he goes. (Okay, then the ¨company¨ would know that he drove us in circles and fire him... except there is no company.)

Eventually we ended up in a huge argument with our driver, Cammie argues very well in Spanish and I was glad to have her along. I thought for sure we were going to end up back at the airport in search of a new taxi but then we stopped and he said ¨here we are in Barranco, your hostel is near here. Pay me the money or we´ll go back to the airport.¨ And Cammie argued a lot and did a good job standing up for us and I recognized the street we were on was the same street that our hostel was on and pulled our backpacks out of the trunk and threw them out onto the street and got out.

So we ended up giving him about US$17. More than the other taxi drive but less than the official taxi. We also got a 2.5 hour tour of Lima (it was three am by the time we got checked into our hostel) and he did point out some travestis, which I was really excited about because of my gender studies, and we got to practice Spanish for a long time. So it was fun, really sketchy, and we both learned a good lesson about not trusting people automatically.


Blogger rj said...

A trip to South America is not complete without a crazy taxi ride. Glad you got that checked off your list. :)

Cammie doesn't have a 'leave a comment' option on her blog- you should ask her to see if she can add that feature.

What do you think about a different banner on your website for your time in Peru? i think the picture of you with your arms outstretched is wonderful- I can combine that with some Peruvian landscape if you post some pics. I'm going to be in the MDL doing other projects anyhow. I would enjoy the diversion. But maybe you want to keep the skiing theme- just let me know.

Glad to hear you guys are having a good time!

Send Cammie my Hellos


May 26, 2006 8:39 AM  
Blogger KateMV said...

Wow... very very sketchy. I got scared just reading it.

June 01, 2006 6:02 AM  

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