When we first arrived at the airport we followed the suggestion to go out to the main terminal and look for the blue and white booth to hire a taxi. That worked out very nicely. During the rest of our stay we simply hailed a radio taxi on the street. I know it was suggested calling one, but we had no trouble getting one on the main avenues of Buenos Aires. We did not take any late at night on dark, lonely streets. We had a cell phone, but found we didn’t use it.
Some of our most amusing experiences happened with the taxi drivers. At the airport my husband had his first encounter with Porteño Spanish. The driver point to our luggage and asked something like, “Es suscho?’ To us, that was similar to saying, “Es sucio?” (Is it dirty?) So my husband asked What is suscho? He, of course, was asking suyo (yours). On the way into the city my husband asked the driver if he is a tangador thinking that would be the word for a tango dancer. The word is tanguero. The driver explained a tangador is a person who makes ladies underwear (thongs). This was only after being in BA for 30 minutes. We were already having fun.
We had many conversations with drivers. Inevitably we were asked where we were from with the following negative comments about President Bush. My husband would answer, No se. El es mi tio. (I don’t know. He’s my uncle) It always got a laugh. One driver replied, “You look like him.” We never sensed any hostility that we are Americans.
In Boca we got into the front taxi of ones that were lined up. I don’t know what happened, but two taxi drivers on foot came up to the driver and were yelling at him. He was yelling back. It was exactly like being in New York City with Italian cab drivers. If we hadn’t experienced similar situations in New York we would have been afraid. As we were driving away our driver muttered something about Mafia. The cab had seat covers with leopard print. It was a 95 Peugeot with no air conditioner, although aire was advertised in the window. The questions about Bush soon began with him too. We had a good time with him.
We only met one cab driver who spoke English. He had been a limo driver in New York for nine years. He was from Uruguay and had some good tips on what to do in Colonia, as he was taking us to the Buquebus. He had some interesting observations about President Bush, too. We have met some of the most amazing people in our travels who drive taxis.
We usually paid about $2 or $3 everywhere we went. The most we spent was $7 to go to the Mataderos fair. We had no problem with any of them trying to overcharge us. They all had meters. It would be a good idea to write the address of where you are going. Get a business card with your hotel and address as suggested already by others. Often, they didn’t understand our Spanish though by the end of our two weeks we started pronouncing words with a y (ll) sound with the sh sound. If we didn’t they had no idea what we were saying. We stayed at the Hotel Goya but pronounced it Goisha after awhile.
The ride in the taxis at times was nerve racking. They really are very skilled at getting in and out of traffic in tight spots. Sometimes my husband would comment to them that we believe in the resurrection to let them know that their driving was getting a little too crazy. That’s one thing we can’t figure out. Why are they in such a hurry to get everywhere when they have a fare? If they would go a little slower the meter is ticking away and they would make more money.