At every post with a hardship designation, there is inevitably something that the Security Team scares the bejeezus out of us about (with the intent of keeping us safer, of course). They go over-the-top at the beginning in the hopes of instilling good habits and a sense of cautious awareness. I totally appreciate what they do for us, but it has the undesirable effect of making me a ‘Nervous Nelly’ for the first few weeks at post.
In Manila it was Purse Theft, here it’s Taxi Cabs. I’ve heard stories of muggings, abductions, smash and grabs – you name it, I’ve got a fear-inducing story to share. So, you ask, after hearing all that, what insane person would get in one? Ummm, let’s see. That would be the individual that has NO CAR for 3 months.
So yes, at some moment in time one must face death on the streets of Lima (possible causes of death not limited to violence – dangerous drivers may also do one in). Remember my nail-biting first taxi ride a few weeks ago? I could write this whole post about the Cabbing experience, but Perilous Peru sums it all up nicely in this post tiled “Danger Taxi.” Instead, I’m going to focus on how I conquered my fear by beating the system!
After a few cab rides I got tired of playing Taxi Cab Roulette (I’m not fond of excess anxiety), so I started thinking about how I could get rid of this undue stress. The simple answer? Find cabbies I trust!
So instead of just riding in the cabs, I started to evaluate each cab and driver on the following:
- The condition of the car
- The availability of seatbelts (surprisingly uncommon!)
- The ability of the driver to understand my sub-par Spanish
- The demeanor of the individual
- Whether he charged me a reasonable fare up front or tried to give me the ‘gringo rate’
At the end of each cab ride, if the cabbie/car got high marks on all of the above, I requested his name and phone number for future use. And after a week of doing this, I had successfully built up a list of 3 drivers in my ‘Cabbie Contingent’. Please allow me to introduce Raúl, Hector and Alex – my personal chauffers! I just found Hector and Alex recently, but Raúl has driven me 4 times now. I simply call his cell phone at the beginning of the day to schedule my pick-ups and he shows up promptly on time at the designated location.
An added benefit is that all 3 of these men LOVE helping me with my Spanish, so the entire ride ends up being a complimentary Spanish lesson. My desire to learn must overshadow my imperfections, because 2 of the 3 have commented about how well I speak and how perfectly they can understand me (which is far from the truth, I’m sure). Who am I to argue? I’ll take any compliments I can get at this point!
Quite honestly, cab riding has turned into one of my favorite experiences in Lima now that safety no longer feels like a concern. So folks, the moral of today’s story is: Don’t Settle for Living with Fear & Anxiety! DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!