Lima, Peru, is loaded with taxis. Which is a good thing because a number of years ago, I decided to give up driving. I concluded that it was cheaper and more convenient to use taxis. Owning and operating a car in Lima is complicated and I wanted to simplify my life.
Even before this decision, I and my family often used taxis to get around. I would have a ride from the university with a driver and suggest that the other members of my family check him out. I’ll admit that my wife and daughter, both Peruvians, did the screening. They had a good eye. They looked for a driver with a particular profile: reliable, safe, pleasant personality, good character, and punctual. Over the years we have had long-term relationships with some excellent persons. They became an important part of our lives.
They were all men since it is rare to see a woman taxi driver in Lima: men of dignity and worthy of respect. They kept their cars immaculate and well serviced. Their roles were more than driving. They went with us to the doctor, the veterinarian, to our work, to school, and to the airport. They could pick up packages and deliver friends to our house. With all this, they waited for us as we completed our tasks.
They found the quickest routes and tried to avoid the major traffic jams of Lima, not easy to do. They gave us advice and, in some cases, a brilliant commentary on politics and what was going on with the national football team. We got to know their families and we always gave them gifts at Christmas time.
Usually, they had other clients who wanted the same type of service. They had steady employment while most of the taxi drivers roamed the streets hoping to pick up clients. Not only that, they had a personal relationship with the families which meant a lot to both parties.
Each had their own distinct talent and approach. For example, one had been a former Peruvian navy seal, another a well-known football player. It was a position of great trust, a rare thing in Peru. They took our grandson to school and got him back safely. They were part of his growing up and learning about people.
They learned or already knew that it was important to be punctual and to follow through with what they promised. They were a great help to us and a chance for me to get to know Peruvians I would never have met otherwise.
This relationship would go on for years but eventually, it ended. Luis retired, another started a business and another had medical problems so that he could no longer drive. Now we have Bruce. He is reliable, a good driver and always on time. He is the only one who speaks English and insists on doing so even though I would prefer to practice my Spanish.
So it is much more than a ride, it is an important relationship that has made our lives in Lima much more pleasant.