Tourist Town's Grim Taxi Reality
Mazatlan is a tourist town, a city very dependent upon tourists spending their pesos and American and Canadian dollars to keep their local economy humming. "The Golden Zone," that hotel congested more-or-less three-mile stretch of everything to keep the mindless, sun-seeking tourist happy is a testament to that, Burger King, Carl's Junior and other American fast-food outlets shoulder to shoulder with Mexican restaurants and sports bars blaring NFL and international soccer (football) games. Add to that the 4.5 mile "melecon," Mazatlan's world famous seaside boardwalk extending south from the Golden Zone, and you have a bustling street and walkway attracting every unoccupied taxi and pulmonia in the city.
What is a pulmonia, you might wonder? The pulmonia is a very local version of an open air taxicab looking much like a large golf cart though the newer versions are far more car-like, with better seats and real doors for the passengers. Taxis, and especially the pulmonias cluster around the Golden Zone hotels and cruise up and down the malecon, wishing and hoping for that raised arm beckoning them to stop. During normal times I am guessing the polmonia drivers are pretty cheerful but the coronavirus pandemic is anything but normal, squeezing the market and making everyone a bit desperate.
Since my arrival last Monday I have taken one taxi from the airport and 13 polmonia rides in and about the Centro and waterfront as we explore the city. Given my 34 years beneath the toplight, I can read any cabbie like an open book and the majority of these guys are not happy. Juvenal, my friendly airport cabbie, reports that it's slow business-wise, my fare that day only his second, translating into one fare for each four hour period out of an already eight-hour day.
I know from personal experience that kind of "waiting, waiting" drives the cabbie nuts, telling them beyond any doubt that you are imprisoned in the cab, jailed, with no escape or parole. Juvenal drives seven days a week, having no choice but to wish and hope for the best outcome every day and hour. It's hard on him and hard on the thousands of pulmonia drivers. I gave Juvenal a $6.00 tip and initially he didn't understand why he was getting that much money, his tips either much smaller or non-existent. I got his card and will make every effort next Saturday to call him when we return to the airport.
I have taken cabs in many countries and it's the same story for them as for me: if it isn't busy, if we aren't making the "real money," we go crazy. And why are all of us out-of-our-minds? Because, brother and sister, taxi is a brutal business, gripping your physical body and spiritual heart and soul, tearing you apart minute after hour after day. That's why I have been tipping all those pulmonia drivers at least one American dollar, equalling more or less 20 pesos, their frown usually becoming a smile and "muchisimas gracias, senor!" And yes, you are very welcome, "por favor."
No Merger News
Some questions have been asked about the pending Seattle cab association merger but I am waiting to address those until the news hits local media outlets. I have heard nothing from the City and County concerning the merger but they must be on some level involved, or at least notified about what is occurring or not. I will not be surprised if announcements are made tomorrow, Tuesday, February 1st, 2022.
Two Pelican Haiku
It has been very entertaining watching the wintering brown pelicans cavort and dive above the local sea. Though I don't know for sure, some of these pelicans could be year-round residents. The first poem originates from a late afternoon jaunt to the beach below the malecon, sitting on the sand watching the pelicans perform, searching and diving for their supper. The second is from a sojourn north of the city proper, sitting all by ourselves on the sand bordering Emerald Bay, with many lines and waves of pelicans flying south over the beach. A beautiful sight upon a warm Mexican day.
diving, splash! into the sea.
"Oh what have I found?!"
south over our beach---"Hello,
can we go with you?"