Hola! Necessito un Taxi!

1 11 2010

Hey people!  I’m back!  I owe Miguel big time for picking up my slack these past few weeks.  I have been busy, but things are on the up!  Now to your long awaited post:

With the decision of not buying a car, Miguel and I have fully embraced other modes of transport.  We initially toyed with the idea of buying bicycles, but quickly scratched that idea when we saw the price of bicycles, and remembered that walking is pretty dangerous enough.  No need to add the awkwardness of two wheels, bumpy roads, keeping work clothes clean, and speed to our already exhilarating walk to work. (And in reality, Miguel would probably do just fine on a bicycle.  But, he is being kind and choosing to huff it with me, the uncoordinated way).

So for now, to get to and from work, we walk or catch a ride with our neighbors.  The rides are nice, but we are constantly reminded of why we didn’t buy a car.  Our neighbors have put so much money and time into their car for repairs, taxes, tickets, etc.  We are really fortunate to have made the choice we did.

Well, you’re wondering… “How do you get your groceries?  What if you want to go out?  The gym?  The mall?  What if it’s raining like crazy?  What if it’s too dark out to walk?”  Calm down.  We have an answer…


It took us awhile to get use to riding in a taxi.  There is something inherently awkward about riding around with a complete stranger who is singing along with Alanis Morrisette as they drive like a maniac honking at every car that even looks like it might get in their way.  And I’m not joking, this shit happens.  But, we have a choice in what type of taxi to ride around in.

First, there are the Escazu Taxis.

Escazu taxis are all red with a yellow sticker.

These guys all dress the same.  They all have very clean and well manicured cars.  They all play quiet non offensive music, and they all drive pretty cautiously.  They all have a meter and a standard rate.  Did I mention that they are all extremely quiet and nice?  What’s the downside?  None of them know where the hell ANYTHING is!  It’s crazy.  You would think that if they drove around Escazu all day everyday, they would know where the center of town is… nope.  I have had many Escazu Taxis go the wrong way after they said they understood my directions.  Good thing I live near Chi Chi’s (Costa Rican Hooters).  They all know where that place is!

The meter is called, "La Maria", because she's always watching... creepy.

The best landmark. Sad, I know.











And then, there are the Pirate Taxis.


The Black Scurvy!

The company is Anca, but they are called pirates because they run without a meter.  “Piratas” in Spanish.  These guys all dress in whatever they want.  One guy, I swear, was in Pj’s, but most are in polo’s and jeans.   They are all characters.  It’s almost like they have to pass a creepy test to become a pirata.  One guy has some gold teeth and crazy gold rings.  One guy is so big his head touches the ceiling as he drives.  Another guy has a mohawk… they run the gamut.  One guarantee is that you will always get some music: latin, Alanis, or otherwise.  Some have pretty nice cars that are well kept, others are driving cars that will stall every time they stop.  They don’t have a meter, so you have to know about how much it costs to go where you want, or they will just take your money.  If you overpay a pirate, they will let you!  What’s the upside?  There are two positives.  One, they know where everything is!  It’s magical.  You tell them where you want to go and they just take you there!  And two, they drive like maniacs!  Not only do they know every side road there is in town, they drive to get you there in the shortest amount of time possible.  They don’t waste your time.  Those positives make all the other weird stuff about the pirates pretty endearing and fun.  They are a mixed bag, you never know what you are getting into when you call a taxi, but you do know they will get you where you need to go.

Even with having a go-to taxi company, we have learned some pretty interesting things while getting in the routine of using a taxi.  Here are some questions we learned the answers to pretty quickly:

Inside of a Pirata cab. This guy was pretty normal looking.

Is it best to sit in the back seat or the front? I always assumed that it was kind of rude to sit in the back seat with a taxi driver.  I mean… they are driving me somewhere, why should I be so distant and awkward?  At first, Miguel and I would quickly call front or back like kids call “shotgun”; only neither of us wanted the “shotgun”.  Then one day Miguel said, “Why are you being so weird!  No one has to sit in the front.  Let’s just sit in the back.”  What happened was, I had called backseat first, and he was pissed that he had to sit in front… so the rules changed 🙂  Now, we both sit in the back together.  If I’m alone, I sit in the front.  It just seems right.

What is appropriate conversation with a taxi driver?  The answer to this question is pretty dependent on how much Spanish you know or are willing to risk speaking.  General topics usually range from, “Are you very busy today?”,  “Do you have a lot of work today?” “Are there normally cows on this road?” “I am a teacher of English at Country Day” “Yes I take Spanish classes” … um… that’s about it.  Obviously we need to work on our conversation skills.

Pick a card, any card..

What do you say when you call a taxi? It’s funny now to look back at the first time I called a taxi.  Talking on the phone in Spanish, is one of the hardest things to do when you don’t speak Spanish.  Go figure, right?  I know the first few weeks that we called Anca for a ride, the dispatch lady hated our English speaking guts.  Often, she would just say, “OK”, and hang up on us.  It wasn’t until a week or two later that we learned she wanted to know our NAME!  We kept saying, “Que?”  What is it that you want? To our defense, she was saying “Por Quien?” which translates to “For Which?”  it wasn’t until we asked our Spanish teacher that we realized what she wanted from us.  Now the incredibly grumpy dispatch lady was understandable.  Now that she no longer finds us as annoying, we have rapidly been accepted by her and the Piratas.  She knows us by name, and all the Piratas do as well.  The other day one a friend was trying to get to our place in a taxi, and all she said was “Vanessa and Miguel” and the taxi knew where she wanted to go!  (We’re kind of a big deal.  People know us.  We have many leather-bound books.)

How do you get them to where your at, and how do you get them to take you where you want to go (believe me, without addresses, shit is hard)?  This was probably the hardest lesson we have had to learn… and we still struggle with it from time to time.  Yesterday we just walked home because it was easier than getting a taxi to the place we were at.  If we want to be picked up at the house, only Anca knows how to get here (I wasn’t lying when I said, it’s hard).  My go-to for getting home is “Conoce Chi Chi’s?”  which means “Do you know where Chi Chi’s is?” if the answer is yes, then we’re good.  If the answer is no, usually I just revert to straight, left, and right.  Because, I know at this point, I know Escazu better than the guy driving me.  Last week, I had a really hard time getting a taxi to pick me up after tutoring.  I had to tell the dispatch lady 3 different directions and she told me a few times she didn’t understand anything I was saying.  Finally she got that I was 200 meters North of a shopping center, and we hung up.  I had to wait quite awhile for that taxi.

Taking taxis has been a crash course for us.  It has been fun and I’m sure we will continue to learn (i.e. Miguel accidentally left his keys in the cab last week) but we are having an adventure, and it’s so cool to be exposed to such new things and strange people.  I mean, who can honestly say they hang out with a pirate on a regular basis?






5 responses

2 11 2010
Renee G-Orness

Ha Ha Ha this one made me laugh…i can just picture you two looking at eachother trying to speak taxi and saying what the f**k and laughing! love you!

2 11 2010

One of the strangest things for me to get used to was the meter. If you look at the picture it reads 3,390…thats a lot! But really it is only $6! crazy…

2 11 2010

You two crack us up. We are so happy to read your adventures and are ROFLOL. I really thought you both spoke better spanish. Luv U!!!!

6 11 2010

Thank you for the taxi update. I do save your posts for reading on Saturday morning when I can truly enjoy your humor. I like Alanis and laughed out loud at least five times this morning. In the end, you two will be the most educated in the hood.

6 11 2010

The Black Scurvy has been sighted in CR??

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