y las Taxistas
I must dedicate one of my blogs to an interesting phenomenon in Cusco; the taxis. Everyday is an adventure in Cusco when you ride in taxis. First of all, there are so many taxis in this place, it would make your head spin. I would say for every 50 cars that drive by when I'm walking, only 2 or 3 of them are not taxis. This is not an exaggeration! If you think that the paragliding looked like a dangerous adventure, it was nothing compared to many of my rides in the taxis. I often take taxis to and from the plaza because I live a 45 minute walk from my school. I have had ample time to experience the white knuckle rides in "los taxis". Probably my worst ride was one evening after my class. I waved down a taxi (which is quite simple with so many around) and I jumped in without negotiating the price first. Whoops! This is 101 taxi riding: Always negotiate the price before you get in! What can I say, I was tired and not on my game. I remembered once we were driving and I said, "Tres Soles, si?". He said, "no, quatro (4)". I said, "no, cada dia yo pago tres soles (everyday I pay 3 soles)". He argued with me for a while and I finally gave up because I wasn't in the mood to squabble over what is only 30 US cents. It's just the principle of the matter. Anyway, this taxista was certifiably nuts! He sped so fast, weaved in and out of cars, squeezing into spaces so small I thought we'd scrape the other cars. He wailed on his horn constantly and basically scared the living daylights out of me. I was so angry because I was paying more for that ride than all my other rides since I've been here. Luckily, I made it to my house alive and uninjured. Phew, that was a scary one.
Now, let me explain the horn honking. There are no stop signs to be found in this entire city. There are some stop lights only on bigger thoroughfares. When the taxi drivers approach a 4 way stop, they beep on their horn a few times, while not really slowing down their speed, and whip right through the intersection. Also, the horn honking culture is quite different here than in the U.S. Boy do they use their horns here! They honk constantly when there are cars in front of them not moving fast enough, or it seems they honk "just because". They aren't really angry, it's just how it works here. Once in a while, you will see some taxista road rage. Finally, what amazes me most of all is that there are amazingly few car accidents here. One of my teachers said there are hardly any. This is REALLY hard to believe. In my short time here, I think my taxis have been awfully close to a crash. Maybe they are all just very skilled at driving like maniacs, so it just works. This is the end of my taxi dedication.
I am leaving tonight at 10 p.m. for Puno. This is the city on Lake Titicaca in Southern Peru. I have been told it's even colder there than in Cusco. Brrr! I need my hat, gloves, scarf, warm fleece and a jacket. Wait a minute....isn't is summer? Oh yes, I left the U.S. summer for the South American winter. When I return on an overnight bus on Sunday into Monday, I will leave Cusco to study Spanish at the other school site in Taray. This is located in the Sacred Valley where it is a little warmer. After that, I am taking a 3 day trip to an ecolodge in the Amazon. I need to fly there because there aren't any roads to where I'm going. It is still surprisingly cheap. Well, I gotta go pack for my trip. Until next time. Adios.