Sunday, June 30, 2013

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride

In my post about the parrots that weren't there, I talked about my new friend Rafaella from Lima, Peru. On our departure day we would have a 6 hour layover at the Lima airport and thought it would be a great opportunity to see a little bit of Lima and get dinner.  Rafaella's mom, Jessica, told us a restaurant to go to and arranged a driver for us because taxi's at the airport were expensive.  We were so thankful for her arranging this for us.

We arrived in Lima after our short plane flight from Puerto Maldonado and saw this gentleman holding a sign. He was so sweet.  He was dressed very nice and had made the sign by hand, making little scribbles to create the sign.  In the states, someone would have an iPad with the name typed in, a little white board or something printed.  Rarely are signs in the states made with such care as this sign.

I believe in Peru anyone with a vehicle, any type of vehicle whether it be motorcycle, lawnmower on wheels or a true car, can get a taxi license.  There are no requirements for size, condition or safety. Vehicle = source of income so it must be very competitive.

I really wish I remembered this gentleman's name because he was incredible sweet and accommodating.  His driving, however, is what now makes this story quite funny. I'll refer to our driver as Mr. Toad.

Have you ever been on the ride at Disneyland called Mr. Toads Wild Ride?  That is what this felt like.  Michele, who sat in the middle, had to be blindfolded so she couldn't see.  Actually she wasn't blindfolded but we should have to help keep her calm.  In Mr. Toad's defense, I think everyone in Peru drives crazy and he was just weaving and driving in the middle of the road to get to point A.  Weaving aside, there were no headlights on the car and it was night.  Not dusk, but dark.

We stopped to take a quick picture and I checked there were indeed no headlights and when I got back in the car I noted nicely how the headlights didn't appear to be on.  He turned on his high beams and his hazard lights and this is how we drove around until somehow they turned off and Michele's heart rate would increase and someone asked to turn the lights on again.  Again the hazards and high beams went on and we'd weave through traffic.  We did drive many miles though in complete darkness and sometimes crossing the road and pulling into traffic.

Mr. Toad was a Peruvian fold dance teach for the university and his english was very good.  If I remember right he had 9 children, or was that grandchildren.  You could tell he didn't have much money and his school income wasn't substantial, hence the driving job. We paid him the amount agreed on plus some.  He could use the money to repair his headlights (we hope!)

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