Saturday, October 31, 2009

Guanajuato, Mexico -- Cabs and Things

Today we had to get to the huge Mega Store we unfortunately have in town. This is a super market on steroids like exists in the States.

The day was beautiful for once. The temps were great allowing for short pants, short sleeves, and a healthy walk for a cab instead of calling for one. So, we struck out for the barrio, Embajadoras to flag a cab instead of calling for one.

Normally, we would call for one. This would cost us $30.00 pesos. If you flag one down on the street it is a mere $25.00 pesos.

The problem was that everyone on this beautiful, cloudless, crystal-blue sky day was on the streets wanting a cab.

With the advent of cell phones, trying to hail a cab in GTO is not as easy as it was when we moved here seven years ago. It was, in those days, so simple and so fast to raise your hand in the air and have one just appear. Sometimes, the cabbies would cruise by you out on a walk in the mountain air (now hopelessly polluted with car exhaust) and actually ask you if you needed a cab.

Not any more.

And not anymore when it is the end of the mammoth festival, Cervantino, and there are about 40,000 more bodies in the city wanting a cab and all using their cell phones to get one.

So, there we were, standing on the street and it looked hopeless.

Now, the strategy is to try and figure out who is actually waiting for cabs and then to out-position yourself from the other wannabee cab passengers.

For example, if you notice hordes standing around staring blankly down the road, looking longingly for something and you aren't sure what, then chances are they are looking for a cab.

We were in this dilemma this afternoon. So, what we did was the out-positioning maneuver: WE TRIED STANDING SOMEWHERE ALONG THE ROAD THE CABS FREQUENT SO WE COULD HAIL SOME CABBIE FIRST.

If three hundred people are standing at point "A", waiting for cabs, then you walk down the street from them to point "L" or "M".

And, there were hordes of people wanting cabs. Extend families of 15 or more, were loitering around trying to pile all of themselves into the backseat of a cab.

I'm serious and not making that up.

One horde's mistress figured out our plan and tried to counter it. She began barking orders.

She sent runners, a common ploy, to try and out run us. Whenever we saw a cab coming from our position, the runners would try and out distance us and flag the cab before us. It wasn't working for them since all the cabs that were passing on the road had fares who waved their cell phones at us with toothy grins as they passed by.

Then an empty cab came zooming down the street. Of course, the runners out ran us since they were teens and we are old, wheezing geezers.

However, I pulled out my secret weapon--MONEY!

Cab drivers will tell you that Mexicans would rather die than ever pay more than the absolute bottom cab rate. They pay the minimum, $25.00 pesos, and will pile as many bodies as they can into the cab. They will even make Granny ride in the trunk if they have to.

So, when the cab came, the little catch-a-cab-before-the-fat-gringos runner stopped the cab but I whipped out $50.00 pesos (a little less than five bucks American) and waved it in the windscreen of the cab.

The taxista, the cabbbie, of course told the Mexicans where to go--AND IT WASN'T WITH HIM AND HIS CAB--and took us to our destination instead.

Now, lest you think this cruel let me say this. Mexicans will jump your cab faster than you can say "I want a taco." They will think you flagged the cab down for them and when you open the door, will jump into the cab and steal it from you.

When this happens, OUT BID them.

Depending on your desperation, offer what it takes to get the cab driver to take you and not the cheap Mexican that will NEVER tip, will NEVER pay a higher price for their extended family horde, and pay the very least amount required by law, a cheap $25.00 pesos, less than $2.50 USD, to go the ends of the Earth and back.

I rather think I had a great day out thinking, out maneuvering, and out paying the Guanajuatense.

Today, I won.

For once!!!

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