Don’t mess with the taxi mafia

12 Nov

These guys are for real.  I had a few experiences today that have led me to believe that in Mexico City, people take their taxi mafia very seriously.

Point numero uno:  I was waiting patiently in the loooong line at metro Tacubaya for the “taxis colectivos,” or shared taxis.  The deal is, four people pile in these tiny cars, pay the driver 20 pesos each (about 1.75 US) and he (or very rarely she) takes you and your nuevos amigos all the way to Sante Fe.  It’s a good deal, but these guys drive like maniacs.  And the whole shenanigans is run by the same two guys who are there at Tacubaya every day (god knows when they get there, probably about 5am) and decide which taxis get to pick up passengers and which don’t.  The taxis are all pirate taxis (unregulated) and they all pay these guys off to let them participate in this ghetto system.  Now this is all completely normal so far.  This is just how things work in a country where 40% of the population participates in the informal economy and where the government has better things to do then regulate silly taxi lines.  But it gets worse…

mexico-taxi

Now to set the scene even more, you need to picture pure chaos.  Basically Metro Tacubaya is a major transit hub, home to two metro lines, tons and tons of buses, and bustling market scene.  Oh and there’s even a Ferris wheel!  Just imagine people running in all directions, buses almost running the people over, and tons of vendors yelling about their candy for only 5 pesos a piece.

So there I was, in the pinche fila, when I happened to notice quite the commotion going on down the road.  Basically three women tried to avoid the long line and hop in a taxi without dealing with this whole mafia-run system.  Bad idea.  As I said, don’t mess with the taxi mafia.  The two guys that run this joint both became involved, pushing the women away from the taxi, attempting to drag the one who had managed to jump inside out, and yelling lots of bad things at the driver.  Apparently he hadn’t paid the mafia his dues.  At this point, another women managed to jump inside, but after that the guys slammed the door shut and started kicking the taxi, which sent him driving off in a huff.  The poor third senora was left with the two thugs yelling all kinds of terrible things at her, and as she walked off (presumably to attempt to meet up with her friends and the taxi), they continued to physically attempt to stop her, telling her to go take a bus.  As I said before, don’t mess with the taxi mafia.  Or any mafia in Mexico for that matter.

To top off my taxi experience today, I had the pleasure of being driven home (in another shared taxi, although the mafia and lines in Sante Fe aren’t quite as intense) by a driver with ONE ARM!!  I repeat, my taxi driver had one arm.  Now before you start thinking, hey I could drive with one arm, that’s no big deal, let me explain something.  First of all this car was a stick shift, and secondly traffic is completely insane here.  I could not get over this guys skills.  He also got me to Tacubaya in record time (a mere 30 minutes) and took us on all kinds of back alley adventures through the ghetto to avoid traffic.  Maneuvering down tiny alleys, shifting gears, making sharp left turns… all with one arm and the left one to boot (he had to reach way over to change gears).  Mexico, you always amaze me.

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2 Responses to “Don’t mess with the taxi mafia”

  1. Mariana November 18, 2008 at 10:36 pm #

    ¡Hola!

    Acabo de encontrar tu blog. No lo he leído todo, pero esta padre que escribas tu experiencia en el DF. Es interesante ver cómo lo ve y cómo lo vive una extranjera.

    ¡¡¡Que caos es el DF!!! ¿No?

    Yo soy orgullosamente chilanga pero coincido contigo, el DF es un caos. Increíble, pero caos.

    Beautiful chaos!

    Bueno, seguiré leyendo.

    Suerte, ¡adios!

    Bueno.

  2. Oscar Mel November 20, 2008 at 8:23 pm #

    yeah!! the Colectivos mafia are Bad Ass!! thanks for sharing your freaking experience!!

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