Transport, Travel

Getting Around

In all of my trusty travel guides, mostly Lonely Planet books, there is a handy section about how to get around the town, city or country of your choice. Handy information about the bus service, metro system and rail network. Where they go, how often and what it costs. Handy info that has proven to be invaluable to me time and again, around the world. Handy info that, thanks to technology, is becoming increasingly redundant. Guides of the future will just need to let the traveller know which app based taxi service operates in that part of the world. And the link to the right place in the applicable App Store. Continue reading


Adios Green Bug

When I came here in 2003 the streets were teeming with the green and white VW Beetles, built in Mexico since production ceased in Germany. By 2005, there were considerably fewer. Today, most taxis are Chevy’s or Nissan Tsurus. There are still plenty of Bugs about though, and I dare say a fair number will still be around for a while.

Taxi journeys have always been a bit of an adventure into the unknown. When you step inside, you have no idea if the driver has a license, has even a vague idea of how to get where you want to go, or what he has been smoking/drinking today. There’s also the matter of the vehicle itself. Suspension sometimes seems to have been a cost option that the owner decided against. Decor can also sometimes be rather elaborate, with a variety of flags, ornaments and religious paraphenalia displayed on the dashboard. On a recent journey I noticed the guy had a crystal ball attached to his windscreen with a suction cup. I can only imagine that that is how he navigated himself through so many red lights at such high speed.

Then there’s the music. Folk tunes from various regions, Daddy Yankee, mariachi, jazz….who knows what you’ll get. There does seem to be some correlation between the speed of your journey and the type of music being played. If you are greeted by the heartfelt tones of Hermoso Cariño, then prepare yourself for a relaxed crawl to your next stop. Dame Mas Gasolina is the tune you want to hear if you’re running late.

There is one thing that all taxis do have in common though, in theory at least, which is the point of this post.  The iconic green and white Beetle has graced the city’s streets for so long, but a year or two ago a new colour design was introduced. A red and gold colour scheme. It’s not to everyone’s taste. But it’s a big job, replacing an icon. Who knows where Willis Tower is, for example, unless you’ve been following the news.

I quite like the new design. It’s pleasant enough. And somehow they look safer, although I can’t put my finger on why exactly. As of July 1st, all taxis were required by law to have been painted the new colours. Or so I believe. The vast majority have complied. Those that haven’t, like the fellow below, are usually seen sat at the side of a road, tires flat, awaiting a car coffin.