July 6, 2007

The taxi chronicles: The comandante needs money

La Ceiba has several new streetlights.
The installation made the newspaper!

June 29: In tonight's taxi, we tried to start a conversation about the overabundance of taxis in La Ceiba.

The driver wasn't very talkative and instead of getting riled up about the municipalidad giving out (read: illegally selling under the table) too many taxi permits, he was
really laid back about the whole thing. He did say there were too many taxis (1,500 in a city of 150,000 or thereabouts) and that it was hard to make a living, but only with prodding. He also said there are counterfeit taxi numbers here in La Ceiba. Boring.

But then luckily we went through a police road block! Yippee! Blog material!

I said that generally I only see the police or transit people working during the day. The driver said they must need money. He said that sometimes the comandante sends a crew out and tells them to bring back money. I asked if the money was for all of the police to share or only for the comandante. He thinks that it's only for the comandante. The police certainly looked angry about being out there so maybe they don't get a cut of tonight's take.

The police were only stopping certain cars so I didn't get to see them in action tonight. They often cut taxi drivers a break, picking on the luxury vehicles more.

The driver also told us that if you get a ticket, it might cost L.900 (U.S. $48) but if you pay the officer, it only costs L.300 (U.S. $16). (Of course, that L.300 goes in the officer's pocket, not the city's coffers.) That part wasn't news to us but the fact that there seems to be a standard set rate was.

We only had a one way trip as some nice neighbors offered us a ride to town! By the way, they are looking for a maid also and had some funny stories to tell. One involved a maid coming to work wearing the lady's expensive scented lotion. The maid belligerently said, "Why do you think you are the only person who buys this lotion?" The lady said, "Because I know you couldn't afford it, and besides, it isn't even sold in Honduras!"

The neighbors also told us that some "gigantic" bad guys raced through the colonia today chased a few minutes later by the police. Her doctor husband was detained by them for a few minutes in a case of mistaken identity. The bad guys abandoned their stolen car two blocks from our house and dove into the jungla (jungle) which runs behind us! I was completely oblivious to all of this going on. They must not have come this way because Chloe would have alerted us. She gets very upset when there are any animals or people in our jungla.

Related articles:

Background info on taxis

Taxi tips for tourists

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