The Taxi Driver
by Teri Saya

 


While living in California, I traveled by taxi in Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, and none of those rides can compare to the taxis here in Mexico.

The first time I visited Mexico was for a two-week stay. We took a taxi from the airport in Guadalajara. The driver was a friendly guy who helped us load our bags into the trunk and then began a dialog with my husband for the rest of the ride. The word “ride” in this case was reminiscent of “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride” at Disneyland. I may be dating myself here, but some of you may remember this ride…it was scary!

While I was white-knuckling in the back seat (with no seatbelts), my husband was casually carrying on a conversation with the driver who was looking more at him than at the road. Things whizzed past my window at high speed, and I thought I saw my life go by as well.

I was breathless and my heart was pounding as we arrived at our destination in Zapopan. My husband paid the taxi driver and began carrying our bags into the house. I said, “Honey, do they all drive like that here?” “Everyone does, and the taxi drivers are the best at it,” He said. It did not faze him at all that we almost died several times on the way here. I vowed never to get into a taxi again.

The vow did not last long. We had no other transportation other than the public bus, which always seemed to be packed like sardines and went just as fast! We were going across town to Tonalá and I reluctantly slid into the back seat while the taxi driver held the door for me. This driver knew my husband from subsequent visits and carried on even more intense conversations than the first driver.

I know a little Spanish and I understand more than I can speak. After tearing my eyes away from the road, I began watching and listening to the driver talk with my husband. He spoke of his family, recent festivities in the area, the weather, and asked my husband how things were in California, all the while maneuvering effortlessly through traffic. I realized that with all the speeding, swerving, honking traffic outside of the car, inside seemed serene. My fears began to fade as I watched the driver handle the car as if it were an extension of his own arm. He knew exactly where he was going and was alert to everything around him, even while holding a full on conversation.

We arrived in Tonalá in a short amount of time and all in one piece. I had found a new respect for the taxi drivers here. I just needed to stop freaking out and open my eyes. Yes, everyone seems to be driving like maniacs, but everyone also seems to be much more alert than California drivers are. I’ve been in numerous taxi’s since that first time here and every one of the drivers has close to the same confidence and driving ability. I’m not afraid to ride in a taxi anymore, in fact, I enjoy being able to watch the scenery and landmarks flash past. I also like watching the street performers at the intersections, but that’s another story.


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