Taxi ride with grandma ‘Grumps’

WHEN you are trying to cut costs and share a cab with strangers, it’s always like opening a surprise package. You won’t know who you’re riding with until you are there with them.

One morning, I and my travel buddy were waiting for the cab that we contacted the night before to get us to Old San Juan from Fajardo. The trip would cost us $60.

Arturo, the cab driver, called to say he was going to be a few minutes late because he was picking up another passenger from the pier. We were in a gated subdivision and you couldn’t just flag any passing taxi because there was none. Uber was unavailable.

About 20 minutes later, a gray SUV pulled to a stop and a cheerful man in his mid-50’s came out to help us load our bags. I got in the rear seat and had barely sat down when the elderly woman who was in the front passenger seat side looked at me and spat out with so much venom.

“Do you realize what you just did? You made me late for my doctor’s appointment!”

I just sat down and I didn’t know her and her outburst was a unexpected. I was so surprised and shocked that my jaw literally fell open and stayed locked for seconds. The only excuse i would accept for such a behavior from anyone was toothache and I have to see proof of a swollen face and puffy red eyes from crying to believe that.

I bit my lip to stop a nasty answer and she should be thankful because as rude as she was, I don’t talk back to people old enough to be my grandma. We were originally planning to ask Arturo for a few stops along the way for quick photos and give him additional tip but there was no more chance of that.

We were getting hungry and thirsty and Old San Juan some 60 miles and away so we asked Arturo for a quickie stop at a gas station to grab sandwiches and drinks.

The woman rolled her eyes and growled so loud and grumbled why we didn’t get breakfast earlier because we were causing her more delay. I expected her reaction and just extended my patience.

All through the trip, the woman kept a string of complaints about anything and everything.

Arturo was so good-natured about it and kept joking, telling her that if she was in a real hurry, she should have left the day before. We learned that she is a regular passenger of his for so many years and is used to her.

She wasn’t late for her appointment at all. Before she alighted from the taxi, she turned to us and handed us her business card and told us to stay at her hotel if ever we visit one of the neighboring islands.

I kept her card so I’ll remember what hotel to avoid if I visit that island. (Name of the island and hotel withheld for my safety. LOL)

Taxis are just one of the options to get around in Puerto Rico. Tourist taxis follow a fixed tourism zone rates. Look out for the logo-label on the doors.

There is the public bus but they only operate on fixed routes in the metro area. Around Old San Juan, you can take the trolley.

Tourist trolley transports passengers around the popular routes of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Uber is the cheaper option. We use Uber most of the time in Puerto Rico. There had been reported incidents of violence between Uber and the taxis in the past years so that Uber drivers cannot pick up passengers from popular places like the airport, hotels, and malls. You have to walk a block or two, sometimes even three to meet up with the Uber driver. Rental cars are also available if you want to drive around.

Polish up your Spanish language skills because some drivers do not speak English, although majority of them do.

Download the Uber App and a translator App to your phone because you’re going to need it. And oh, start walking because you’re going to need that too. Lessons I learned the hard way.

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