Saturday, October 16, 2010

Taxis in Timor: An Assault to the Senses

Most times when you climb into a taxi in Timor, you are serenaded with very loud music -- and a reluctance by the driver to turn it down. He will do so eventually, if you continue to insist.

Once that's settled, he often lights up a cigarette -- and yet again,  you must ask him to put it out -- reluctantly he does so -- most times. This can be quite comical if you don't speak the language and are trying to convince him to put out the cigarette.

The whole time you're negotiating the cigarette issue, the back windows are rolled up and for some strange reason -- in almost every single taxi in Dili -- the windows will not roll down. So you are blasted with loud music, cigarette smoke and extreme heat -- since the taxis rarely, if ever, have air conditioning.

Even still, your taxi ride is likely to take a long time since many of the cabs are in pretty bad shape. The last time I took a cab, the engine was making strange noises and the car appeared to be having some sort of seizure as it jerked along at barely 20 miles an hour.

Next time, I'll bring a good book, a fan and ear plugs. Better yet, maybe I'll just walk.