Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Gring@ tax

All Latin American countries seem to have this wonderful thing called "the gring@ tax."* This is when you are charged above normal prices for things only because you are a gring@. Guatemala is no exception.

Generally I'm always accompanied by the man (yes, I miss my independence, but have an escort everywhere is a good thing here where armed robbery is frequent), but lately I have had to take a taxi home alone since the man gets out an hour later from work. We had been lucky in finding a cool cat taxi driver to drive me home. He is nice and friendly to me without being inappropriate. And most importantly, he charges me a reasonable price for the ride. Unfortunately his taxi had to go into the shop at the end of the week and he was unable to drive me home. The man called another taxi driver who he promised was good also (he had caught a ride with him before and the charge was fair**).

Here's where the gring@ tax comes in. The charge was fair for HIM, the Chapin, the Guatemalteco ... This does not mean I - the redheaded gringa - will have the same luck. When the taxi driver got to my house I handed him a 100Q bill. The driver's response was " oh I'm sooo sorry. Pardon me! But I don't have ANY change! I left it all at home!" This was accompanied by a large grin. Obviously the man had made sure I would be charged a low fare, but since my Chapin escort was not with me the rules had changed. Of course the taxi driver assumed he could rip me off with his sad story of having no change at all. PUH-LEASE. He had change, the little liar. My response to his little show, "OK wait" - Kelly digs through her purse and comes up with exactly 35Q - "Here ya go!" The taxi driver's face just fell as he said, "Oh thanks. I'm sorry for the bother."

HA, sucker! Thought I would give you 65Q more than I was supposed to?!!? Guess again, dummy!

Needless to say, I will never call this driver again. And I informed the man that he is a very bad judge of character.

*gring@ is being used as gender neutral. So it means gringo or gringa. got it?

**In case you're wondering... No, there are no meters in the taxis here. It's purely based on what the driver wants to charge you. So when taking a taxi in Guate, ask for the fare BEFORE you get into the car!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like Venezuela, Puerto Rico... I hated it. I had to always be on top of it and be ready to fight for a good fare. Some drivers I had actually leave me on the side of the road because they insisted on charging a high fee and I said I wouldn't pay it.