It’s no secret. My time spent in taxi cabs have been nothing short of exhilarating; ranging from comedic to terrifying. Most of my taxis are very standard. Where are you from? What are you doing in Medellin, just passing through? And the most polite of all-Do you have a boyfriend? All of these conversations have been for the most part innocent and non-intimidating, especially now that I have a Colombian boyfriend I can brag about, which gives me a weird veil of safety. However, one lucky taxi driver managed to get my phone number this week. Yes, I told him all about DaVinci, so he knows I’m taken, but I started to wonder, how come this guy? What did he do differently? So I began recounting my most memorable taxi cab experiences.
The first piece of advice anyone ever gave me: Don’t take a taxi from the street. What did I do? I took a taxi from the street.
Taxi number 1: We shall call him Filiberto. Filiberto was apparently very involved with Pablo Escobar. Mr. Berto used to live in Miami with his brother selling drugs for Escobar, until his brother got killed by the Medellin Cartel. My taxi cab driver then recalled fleeing from the U.S., leaving behind properties he and his brother obtained with their successful drug running careers. Filiberto is married now with one 18-year-old son studying international business. Another alleged fun fact, his son will be going to New York this year to study and live with his Uncle who is a cop! Believe what you will, but Filiberto was very enthusiastic and happy about his life post-Escobar.
Taxi number 2: I encountered number 2 after a night of unforgettable moments made forgettable by the amount of celebrating I partook in. It was a mix of special occasions, a mere acquaintance leaving Medellin and a stranger millionaire’s birthday party. I vaguely remember the cute restaurant in Envigado where we crashed the birthday dinner, then fast forward to my Irish Goodbye from the notorious Parque Llerras area. We shall keep calling this taxi driver number 2, because he was definitely trying to channel some James Bond love skills. He was so intrigued by my gringa-ness that he persistently tried to get me to agree to going out with him. As we inched up my hill, he proceeded to stop every 10 feet to further explain his proposition for me. Needless to say, as soon as my apartment gate opened, I ran to the door man muttering “no me gusta” and made the door man pay the taxi driver for me.
Taxi number 3: This was my only truly scary experience here in Colombia. Forget the Guerilla inhabited roads, the 8 hour jungle hikes while sick and my constant acts of rebellion to do things alone with my computer in my bag and headphones in. Someone literally refusing to bring you home is quite frightening. The experience followed an extremely fun night with a bunch of other foreigners on a chiva to celebrate the holidays. I will admit we began celebrating a little too hard, a little too early. However, I always knew my surroundings, thank Buddha. Luckily, I was able to hop out on the highway and send frantic voice memos of my whereabouts to my friends and DaVinci while running to the main road to find another taxi (from the street). I will never know what this guys’ mission was, and I’m happy for that. He doesn’t deserve a sassy name.
Taxi number 4: Just a normal day trying to get around and of course the conversation was routine: Where, Why and Who? But this time, instead of asking if I had a boyfriend, he asked if I was married. However, I thought he asked if I was tired (I know, overly polite, right?!). Also ironic that the word for married “casara” and tired “cansada” sounds strikingly similar. So I honestly answered, “si…un poco”, “yes… a little”. Two minutes later when my brain caught up, I didn’t bother correcting him since it’s probably better he thinks I am a little married than not at all.
Now we get to lucky taxi driver number 5, who has my phone number! Juan is perfectly nice and polite. He had remembered me from my Ruta N days (where I used to work). We began chatting about Medellin, work, making friends, traveling, many normal friendly conversation topics. I recounted my holiday road trip with DaVinci and how we live together and how DaVinci is from Popayan, etc. etc. So even though Juan knows I am fully in a Colombian romance, he still offered to open up his social group to me after I told him I thought it was difficult to make friends here considering everyone is so exclusive and family oriented. He was not pushy, rather polite in asking and genuinely careful in the vocabulary he used, to be sure I understood. So I figured, why the hell not? Someone is offering me friendship so I can’t complain if I don’t take it! Time will tell what Juan’s intentions are.
Through all of these crazy rides, I have learned tons of valuable lessons in life, safety and language. Medellin never ceases to surprise me with what comes next.