So since I moved to Arraijan, taking the bus isn’t so bad going into Panama (assuming I get a taxi to the entrance of Noevo Chorreha (sp?) which can be hard to do), but it’s coming back home that’s a pain because the lineups are long at Albrook Terminal, & once you get on the bus, you normally have to wait anywhere from 10-30 minutes, depending on the mood of the bus driver.
They say its because he wants to fill up the bus, but that’s not true, because a lot of the time the bus is full & we are still waiting.
There’s also the issue if I have my stroller thingy or lots of bags. I have to leave them at the front or cause disruption in the aisle or use a seat up.
So anyway, I had heard about these pirate taxis a couple of months back & was told they can be dangerous, so I never looked into them, but then last week a guy I met who also lives in Arraijan & lives sort of close to me wanted to meet up & then take one of these taxis.
The taxis are ONLY located in Calidonia which is a bad part of town to begin with.
Why they ONLY congregate there I still haven’t figured out, but once you get there, there are TONS of cops around (I saw a parade of them lights flashing & the whole nine yards from a balcony. That was my first time seeing that), drug addicts, homeless people begging, people rushing to get into the cars, drivers making sure no one stole anything from the trunk, etc. etc. They all seem very very nervous.
When I found out that it would ONLY cost me $2.50 for the guy to drive me RIGHT to my door, I was shocked.
Normally once I get off at the entrance to Noevo Chorreha it costs me $2 because it’s after 10 pm & the taxi drivers in Arraijan are thieves.
So of course I say YES, take me home. I thought he was only going to take me to the entrance.
- No waiting for the bus
- All my bags went into the trunk
- I got home in about 20-30 minutes which was amazing
My mistake was I didn’t get the guy’s phone number & these pirate taxis are all very shady, but this guy seemed ok.
So today I went into Panama City to do some errands & had a stressful time of it (more on that later) & I decided I had to take one of those pirate taxis even though I was by myself. I had heavy Riba Smith bags (that’s the grocery store I frequent) & I had been waiting for over an hour for my taxi driver Hernan to show which he didn’t, & then another taxi driver to show & his “I’ll be there in 15 minutes” turned into 45 minutes.
I just wanted to get the HELL HOME.
So I asked my taxi driver to help me get a non threatening pirate taxi driver & he did. He told the guy where I needed to go & confirmed the guy knew where that was & asked the price. The same $2.50.
WELL, unlike the first time I went, I was NOT dropped off first & because I didn’t want him to know I was a Gringo, I kept my mouth shut while he dropped off all 3 other women home FIRST.
I was pissed being in the car by myself with him.
Then it became apparent he had no idea where he was going & that’s when the problems started. He starts asking me in Spanish how to go & I have to start speaking in English, I have no choice. By this time he knows I don’t speak Spanish AT ALL.
Then a police car pulled up & he asked how to get me home & they told him.
Then he went the way they told him which is not the way I normally know, so I couldn’t direct him, as I’ve only been that way once before.
After he drives forever & I still don’t see my complex, I am thinking he’s TOTALLY lost & then FINALLY we come across my complex – Brisas de Gulf. I’m happy, I give him a slap on the shoulder like “you did it” & I think I’m home free when I hear him say in Spanish something about more money & I shake my head.
We get to my street (I NEVER show them where I live, not even the regular taxi drivers) & I have him drop me off.
Thank gawd he opens the doors because he has full control of the door locks. I couldn’t get out if he decided to keep me prisoner.
We get out & he starts asking me for money claiming he went out of his way & I’m laughing in my head thinking NO FUCKING WAY BUDDY. He charged each woman the same price & THEY live at least 10 minutes further away than I do. He just thought he could rip off a Gringa.
I have my bags on the street & I start walking to the other side even though that’s not my side of the street. I realize he’s NOT driving away, so I stop. It’s raining slightly & a dog is barking.
I stand there refusing to walk while he’s still there. He doesn’t move.
That’s when I take my phone out & I start pretending to dial someone. That’s when he finally drives away.
I’m still nervous, but I go into my house.
None of the lights are on in the front of the house as I go to unload my groceries in the kitchen, but then about 15 minutes later after I was seated at my desk which is in the room at the front of the house, I hear a car go by the house, turn around & then go back & I start to get nervous again that it’s him trying to figure out which house is mine so he can come back & rob or rape me. Most cars at that hour drive into THEIR house.
I REALLY need to get a guard dog. This is nuts.
So if you find out that I’m dead in the next month, you can assume he did it.
I didn’t get any plates as a lot of cars in Panama don’t have license plates.
He listens to Spanish rap & they all seem to have those video screens in their cars which I’ve only ever seen in SUVs. He drives VERY fast.
As for the pirate taxis, I have to figure out a way to take one & not risk my life because after taking them, I don’t want to go back to busing.
For sure next time I’m going to have directions written out to Brisas de Gulf, & I am going to demand I be dropped off first. Had the guy known I was on the way to the other houses, I’m sure he would have dropped me off first & this would have all been a non issue.
Once again, Panamanians think that ALL North Americans have money & that’s why they steal from them.
This guy has MORE money than I do, I can guarantee that, I can’t even pay my rent this month.