Sunday, April 29, 2012

Five taxis, a Lifetime of Stories

This Istanbul weekend was filled with taxi adventures. Luckily we had a sense of humor and an iPhone with GPS.
1) Airport to hotel- I knew there was a problem when the taxi driver called the hotel for directions and the hotel hung up on him. We eventually located the hotel with my GPS but upon arrival at 2 am the clerk greeted us with "Have a seat and would you like tea or Turkish coffee? " Not a good sign... Sure enough the hotel clerk was sorry to inform us that there were "bathroom problems" and he would be moving us to another hotel. Taxi!..
2) First hotel to second hotel- This ride took us through the narrow, back streets of Sisli and dropped us off at what appeared to be a dump. Upon closer inspection, it was a dump with paper thin walls and seriously dirty carpets, but it was close to a metro stop and it was 2:30 am. Too tired to argue.
3) Hotel to Kumkapi - This driver was fast like a NASCAR driver which was good because I was hungry for fresh fish and thirsty for something with alcohol.
4) Kumkapi to hotel- This ride provided a great opportunity to practice my Turkish. We had a friendly and patient speaker/listener/driver. The only problem is that he couldn't and drive. I noticed we'd passed our hotel, and I knew he was lost so I whipped out the GSP and Google Maps and gave him directions. But, he didn't believe my directions so he rolled down the window and asked at least 3 fellow cab drivers, double parked at the Ramada and ran inside for directions, and still couldn't figure out the one-way streets. I decided to learn the word for "walk" so this wouldn't happen again. I knew we were about 200 meters from the front door severals times but I couldn't get him to let us out and walk.
5) Istanbul Archeological Museum to airport Sheridan hotel- When this driver learned I was teaching in Malatya, he pulled out his Malatya ID card and had the driving skills to prove it: erratic decision making,rabbit starts, squealing stops, idiotic speed, underdeveloped brain, and serious need for an afternoon calming chai and cigarette. My mom screamed once and my dad had white knuckles as we reached speeds of 120 kph on roads designed for 70. The thought crossed my mind that I would never let Eric or any of the kids drive at that speed, but here I was riding along (with no seat belt) letting a complete stranger take our lives into his hands and we would arrive at our destination inshallah. (God willing.)

No comments:

Post a Comment