I’ve ridden in taxis in Guatemala for many years, but today Dwight and I had a new experience. Our regular taxi was unable to come for us, so we got a ride with an employee of the business we had been visiting. So it wasn’t really a taxi, but the same idea.
The car was small and old. Dwight’s first comment was advice he received when he was visiting Casablanca, “Never ride in a petite taxi.” About 10 into our 20 minute ride the car stalled at a stop light in busy traffic. We restarted and 2 blocks later, it stalled again. This time it wasn’t so easy restarting and the driver got out, lifted the hood and massaged the carburetor while I worked the starter and readied my foot on the gas pedal. A couple of minutes later we were on our way again. Good for another 2 blocks. The next stall left us in the bus lane and, with the help of some by-standers, we were pushed to the right side of the road where more pumping on the carburetor got us going again. This was a nice break for the traffic behind us.
A ¼ mile later we died again. It was more serious this time. Someone appeared at my window claiming to be a mechanic, offering his help. The next thing I know Dwight and I are watching our mechanic friend play with wires and hoses, pumping the carburetor, then he sucked a mouthful of gas from a hose and spit it into the carburetor and continued pumping, pausing occasionally to spit the aftertaste onto the ground. This process repeated one more time.
By now we were only 5 blocks from the hotel, so we baled. I paid the driver what he thought the ride was worth ($2.50) and we bid good-by to him, the mechanic and the gathering on-lookers. The trip took us a little longer than we’d planned, but the entertainment value was well worth it.
Moral: Never ride in a petite taxi!!