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Thursday, February 18, 2010

More Taxi Blogging

We were headed for Carrefour in Maadi again today to do some shopping.  We got an early start because it's Thursday - the beginning of the weekend, here.  We wanted to beat the crowds at Carrefour.

I hailed a cab out in front of the apartment for the nine-mile run.  The first taxi driver to stop was willing to go (this is not always a certainty!) and said, "How Much?"  Arguing and being willing to try the next driver can get the fee down to 30 pounds, Egyptian ($5.47) but we were anxious so I offered 40.  We squeezed in.

This was obviously a good time to buy some gas since the fare was pretty high.  We pulled ahead about a hundred yards and entered the line at the nearby CO-OP station.  80-octane was available today!  There was quite a line.

It was then that I noticed we were riding in a Dacia.  The driver spoke very little English but we soon grasped the basics:  The Dacia is a Romanian car.  Renault has some involvement with the company.  And, o yes, the Dacia is a very bad car!  This one is only sixteen years old so won't have to be replaced under the new "taxi update" program for four more years.  Nevertheless, the driver is hoping to upgrade to a Speranza in another year.

Here's a look at the car.  Notice that the driver has a plain cloth dashboard cover versus the popular fur models and no dice hanging from the rearview mirror.  The fringe, the plastic and the color on the dashboard cover are all attractive.  And the ornament that is hanging from the rearview mirror gives the whole vehicle some class.  Notice the non-smoking sticker!  That is rare in Cairo.  Some drivers ask before lighting up and nearly all will offer you a cigarette if they light one for themselves.

Ventilation is a bit limited.  I wanted to borrow Linda's window crank but she didn't have one either.  The door opening handles were missing some parts but did function.

The ventilation is a big issue since this taxi, like most in Cairo, smells strongly of gasoline.

We waited in this line, patiently, and finally had the attendant pump in 17.98 liters of gasoline for 16 pounds.  That works out to 4.75 gallons for $2.92 or 62 cents per gallon.  That's a pretty good price.  I had to pay $18 to fill up the tank in Goma's Mercedes yesterday with the 92 octane.

When we left the station and headed East on the Ring Road, Linda noticed another taxi beside the entrance ramp with one wheel and axle lying beside the road.  That's just the luck of the draw, here.  I didn't get a picture of that one but here's a similar situation on a nearby street last week.  Not quite as bad a situation since the wheel wasn't totally off.

Oddly enough, there was a truck in a similar condition on the Ring Road when we later left Carrefour.  As usual, the taxis allowed to wait at Carrefour for exiting customers are all the new "checkered" models.  Ours was powered by propane.  Low pollution and no smell of gasoline.

I have several other posts involving taxis.  Just type "taxi" in that search bar at the very top left of the page by the Blogger "B" and hit Enter.

For the story of the trip to Carrefour when I saw the drive shaft fall off a truck exactly one year ago today, just go here.

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