I love to travel, but like everything else it has its ups and downs. One of the things that causes me the greatest anxiety is using taxis in new places. Frankly, I dont like getting ripped off.
Dont get me wrong: I understand that in Panama there is going to be a gringo premium. I dont really mind paying 3 dollars for a ride that would have cost a local 2 dollars. Similarly in Kenya I didnt not mind paying 300 shillings for a ride that would have cost a local 200 shillings.
When I was in Kenya almost every night I used to walk from the apartment to the same group of cab drivers about 50 yards down the road to take a mile or so ride to a street corner that had my favorite restaurant in Nairobi on it (Cedars). On the rare occasion I was bored with Cedars I could go nearby to Osteria. Also on that corner was the night club Casablanca.
I had made this trip (and then back) at least 50 or 60 times with the same cab drivers. Yet every time I got it and said Cedars they would say 400 shillings. I would then have to say no, 200 shillings and then we would settle on 300 shillings. On the way back it was the same thing only I didnt have to tell them where I was going because they knew.
In my last week in Nairobi I went through this same routine. It was a little bit late when I was coming back and I didnt feel like arguing with the guy. He said 400 shillings. I said ok.
With that, the new price had been set. I could not argue at all with any of them anymore. They knew I had paid 400 shillings for that ride once, and they were going to make sure that was what I paid from now on.
Fortunately I only had to deal with that 3 times or so as it was my last week.
Which brings me to the Caribbean. Taxis in the Caribbean are expensive and it is a constant hassle to deal with them. I went to St. Lucia last month and decided I would learn the bus system. Check out the picture to the side. Every one of those minivans with a green license plate is a public bus they are everywhere. They seem to have some pre-arranged stops but also you can just flag the down wherever you want and ask the to let you out wherever. I cant quite figure out precisely how the pricing works, but every 5 miles or so costs you a 1.50. I had no problems.
On my recent trip to Anguilla I got done with work a day early and so decided to spend the night in St. Martin which I had not done before. Looking around on the internet it looked like it would be 25-30 dollars to take a taxi from the airport to Philipsburg, and that I would have to haggle with the cab driver. Unwilling to do that I decided to try taking the bus. Im glad I did. It was an adventure and I enjoyed it quite a bit.
It turns out taking the bus was easy, and it only cost me 2 dollars for the 30 minute ride to Philipsburg.
Below is the view from the minivan.
And yes, did manage to hang out at the end of the runway in St. Martin. I did not get to see a 747, but I shot this video that is pretty cool: