I hardly ever call for a taxi in Cuzco. Peruvian city streets are flooded with taxis and you can simply wave your hand to hail a cab most anytime anywhere. Occasionally you want to call a cab, maybe you’re in a really quiet residential area where there are few taxis, or perhaps it’s late at night. The taxis you call from a central dispatch are supposed to be legal and safe, not some guy with a car moonlighting. Calling a cab from a central dispatch is considered safer than hailing a cab in the street but only once I’ve heard of a girl getting robbed in a taxi in Cuzco – and I’m not quite sure what to believe of her story.
The other day I had to be at the airport early for a flight to Lima and I decided to call a taxi to our apartment. I figured it would be quicker than to go out in the street and hail a cab at that early hour. The dispatcher told me my taxi would arrive in 6 minutes, which was about right. I hopped in and we were on the way to the airport.
While riding in the back of the cab I could listen to the dispatcher call her drivers over the radio. It was quite entertaining. The dispatcher would talk sweet and funny as long as she was getting her way with the drivers but change in an instant to a condenscending angry tone when she didn’t get her way. She complained to 2 drivers that they took too long to get where they were going, she fussed at another for going to the wrong apartment building and at one point she yelled at driver “If you don’t want to work then don’t come to work!” I think she’s good at her job but probably doesn’t have a boyfriend.
We got closer to the airport and as we were about to turn into the airport parking my driver reached up and pealed the “TAXI” sticker off from his windshield. From our house to the airport taxis are about S/.5 (~$2) but calling one to the house is a few Soles extra. The driver said 8 Soles, which is about right. I gave him 10 Soles (you’re not expected to tip taxi drivers in Cuzco). The driver fumbled around his center console and said “No change”. He was pretending not to have any change. It worked, I said thanks and got out. I didn’t want to bother and I figured S/.2 extra was a pittance for this poor driver having to listen to mean dispatcher girl all night long 🙂
I called to get a licensed taxi but instead I got overcharged and the guy was moonlighting. Oh well. Then I checked in for my flight to Lima… Yippie, center seat! That’s okay, for my next flight I’ll have the left front seat.