Dealing with taxi drivers in Lima is interesting. There are no meters here. So, every time you want to take a taxi, you have to negotiate the price…unless you just want to get ripped off every time.
So the first time I was going to take a taxi, I had a chat with Alvaro, a dude that works at my hostel in Miraflores. I wanted to go to the center. Alavaro said I should pay no more than 9 soles. But he had an “insider” secret for me.
“Estoy aguja”. Literally, I guess that means “I’m a thin, needle”. At least that’s what Alvaro told me. No matter what it means literally, in this case it means “I’m poor, give me the better price.”
Alvaro also told me about a hand symbol I had to do when I said “Estoy aguja” and named the lower price. I was to put my pointer finger at my neck. Like a gun to the neck, except just the pointer finger.
And so it went…
I asked the guy “How much to Plaza de Justicia”.
“Estoy aguja” and a second later I remember the finger. So I akwardly, after already having said the words, put my finger at my neck.
The taxista laughed, put his finger to his neck, and said (basically) “Estoy aguja too!” and he laughed. We settled on ten soles. And I was off. On my way to the center of Lima for the first time.
The drive there was great. I chatted up the taxi driver all the way. We stopped for gas real quickly. The gas stations sometimes are in the middle of the street. You just stop, get gas (maybe a drink or snack) and go. Interesting.
The taxi drivers have all been quite nice here in Lima. Speaking some Spanish will really help though. Usually, there’s tension from the taxi driver at the beginning. Not sure if it’s negative feelings or just uncomfortableness because there’s no way to communicate.
But once I break out my broken Spanish, they brighten up and usually talk my ear off. Of course, I’m always testing different provactive questions to pry them open. But that’s for another blog entry.