Late nights and Taxis in Monterrey Mexico

23 09 2004

Yesterday was interesting…  At lunch, we realized that the car that we were going to take to lunch had two flat tires.  The worst one, we put the little donut spare on,  and motored off (off course this sounds easy, until you throw in the fact that you’re doing this in  35C weather)  Then, we went to Pollo Loco – the McDonalds of chicken down here.  It was a zoo!  Not only did you have your usual compliment of whacko drivers, you also have to contend with drivers coming and going through the drive through…hold on to your hat!   The chicken is quite good, having been barbequed over a real wood barbeque, and was certainly good to eat after the whole tire changing episode.

Last night, a critical piece of equipment showed up, and I knew I was going to be working late,so I asked for numbers for the taxi, and our address, so that I could tell them where to get me.  Good!  I worked until about 2345, and then it was time for the call. 

I called the cab company, and as smoothly as I could, I ordered a cab.  I gave him the street number as “1-2-3-4 Some Street”  He answered back with “12 34 Some Street?”  I of course know only the numbers to 10, so beyond that got kind of hairy.  I kept repeating my single digit numbers and he kept reading them back as numbers over 10 –  Tip for people dealing with foreigners… “If someone tells you something, and you want to repeat it to make sure it’s right, DON’T change the FREAKING number format!”  OK, so we made it past the number, and then there was the small issue of the fact that he didn’t know where the street  was.  Luckily, they have neighborhood names, like we do in Vancouver, such as “Kerrisdale”.  Next he says (all in Spanish of course).  “It’ll be there in 4 minutes.”  Holy Crap!  I hang up, pack up my laptop etc, and go to  leave the building, in the pitch black – no lights at night.  Who needs ’em?  People don’t work at night, around here it seems 🙂  I bump into one palm tree, and almost step into one pothole, in my rush to the gate.  I get to the gate.  It’s locked.  The fence is 10 feet high!  (Sidebar:  If you want a good business opportunity in Monterrey, go into steel gates, or hiring out security guards…Seems that everyone has a fence, a gate, and a security guard).  I peer through the fence to see the tail lights of a taxi slowly moving AWAY from me.  My heart dropped, since the reason I peered through the fence was that the gate was padlocked, and the security guard (what’s with old, slow security guards? – They’re everywhere!) was nowhere to be found, so I find myself calling “Hola! Hola!” in the hope that my guard will come and release me. No luck, the cab has headed off to oblivion, and I had decided to forego scaling the fence, like a Navy Seal, with laptop in one hand, and camera bag in the other.

I headed back to the building, and decided to call them, and explain that I had just missed the taxi, can you send him again, and have him wait.  As I got to the building, what did I see at the gate, but the lights of the Taxi!  I ran (in the pitch black remember), yelling Taxi! Taxi! in the hope that he would hear me and stop.  He did.  Now I had the small issue of getting over the fence.  This was thankfully solved by the guard tottering out of the darkness, to unlock the gate.  Whew…embarrassment averted.

I hopped into the cab – a VW bug (Monterrey was the last place they were ever made), and told him the name of my Hotel.  This was greeted by a blank stare, and a bunch of Spanish, which I took to mean “Where?”  I tried again, and couldn’t really think of what was close.  I was wishing I had paid more attention on my rides previously. Then I realized that there were signs for “Casa del Tec”, a lottery home, worth 2.8Million USD, so I said “proximo Casa del Tec” – blank stare.  Then I tried the big mall – “Valle Oriente”  A smile lit up on his face, and our little VW bug rocketed out, onto the freeway, and away.  Now,I didn’t really want to get to Valle Oriente, I wanted to be about 1-2km PAST it.  When we got close, I saw the hotel letters, in blue in the distance, and pointed them out with my best (i.e. crappy) Spanish.  He saw them too!  I was  going to get “Home”!  Then, he missed the exit.  Missing an exit means driving about 6km down the road, and doing a U-Turn, and then coming back again.  We did, and I got to my hotel finally.  At the hotel, he turns and says “One hundred”.  I offer him 50 (again, I’ve managed to get an UNMETERED cab)  He shows me the cash equivalent of 100, and I say “No!!!!”, and he explains about the long way he had to turn around to get here and all,  and I say “No!”, and offer 60.  He then comments something about the long trip, and stays steadfast with 100.  I say “80…that’s it”  And he apparently understands that part of my english, and reluctantly accepts.  I just paid another 30 pesos for forgetting to negotiate ahead of time.  I just keep learning!

Home by midnight, I’m exhausted, and that’s why I’m writing this now, instead of last night.

More work to do tonight. 

Later!

Later – Pictures now available

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