Lima in rush-hour traffic
It is 6 p.m. and I have just finished my last appointment of today. I want to get back to Diospi Suyana’s guesthouse. The journey from the city district San Isidro to Surco is about 10km. I stand at the street corner and bargain with some taxi drivers, of whom there are enough in this capital city. In 2014 the German radio station “Deutschlandfunk“ reported that around 250,000 to 300,000 cabs drive on Lima’s streets, most of them illegally, i.e. without a license. New York only has a tenth of that number!
My journey through Lima will take at least an hour. With an average speed of 10km/h it may seem quicker to go on foot. The fare of 17 Soles (roughly €4) is okay and a taxi offers more security on the dangerous streets of Lima. Only yesterday while I was walking through the streets a man tried to snatch my mobile from me; however, my reflexes were quick enough and my fingers were stronger than his so the potential robber quickly disappeared again into the crowd.
It will be an interesting journey crawling at a snail’s pace through the never-ending streets. Within a short while Jose V. and I are on first name terms. He is a solicitor, but since he does not have enough clients he boosts his wages with taxi driving. Almost all of Lima’s drivers have a different qualification.
Thanks to the endless traffic jam Jose and I have ample time to talk and after a while I have quite a detailed knowledge of his family, his current girlfriend and his world-view. I enjoy listening to him and occasionally ask some questions. On the display of his mobile he then shows me several photos. “Your girlfriend really is beautiful,” I assure him. Delighted Jose turns his attention back to the traffic. “Perhaps I will move to Tarapoto (in the rainforest) and have my own fruit farm!” I would have nothing against that.
At 7 p.m. we have reached a petrol station. Jose gives me the change of my 100 Soles note (€28) and we shake hands. “Please greet my girlfriend and wish us a happy marriage!” I gladly fulfill his wish. Jose presses the appropriate buttons on his mobile. While he is filming me I word a marriage proposal for my “new friend”. “I really must go now,” I tell him and say goodbye. The chance that we will meet again is extremely small bearing in mind that Jose has a quarter of a million colleagues. Unless of course, I call him: Jose had given me his business card with all his details. So, until the next time! / KDJ