I just love random photos of traffic from other countries. The whole taxi culture of Lima is something I truly miss.
I have a friend who drives everywhere he goes, and he does have a point that his safety is assured, but I don’t think driving in Lima is any good for his sanity. For my part, I prefer to have somebody else risk his car in the nutty Lima traffic. After all, you barely pay taxi drivers anything down there (and none of them expect a tip).
Honestly though, you really do need to learn the language to integrate yourself with the transportation culture of Lima. I’ve used translation agencies for business proceedings, and honestly it’s better to go through one of those to get the nuances of word choice, etc. But for negotiating with a taxi driver, all you need is a brute force grasp of the language.
Really, all you need to be able to do is state where you want to go, and then hold up the number of fingers to represent the number of Soles you’re willing to pay. However, be careful even with that, because the oldest trick in the book is for the taxi driver to claim the “5” you agreed on was in dollars and not Nuevo Soles.
I had a friend who got into a huge argument with a taxi driver over that fact when the driver insisted that the payment of “20” that was agreed on to go from the airport to the Ovalo de Miraflores signified dollars. My friend’s argument was that one should never assume that you are negotiating in a currency other than the standard currency of the nation you are in. However, that didn’t fly with the taxi driver, and I think he ended up paying it.
These days, I doubt you can get from the Ovalo de Miraflores to the airport on S/. 20, but there was a time.
Heck, I’m pretty proficient at Spanish, and I still keep things pretty simple when negotiating with taxi drivers. I rarely tell them the exact street I want. Instead, I just pick the nearest Ovalo and plan on walking a couple of blocks. I don’t need to use finger gestures any more, but I always repeat the agreed upon sum and add Nuevo Soles at the end in an attempt to avoid some taxi driver trying to trick me.
However, half the time they still try to change the quantity or currency at the end of the trip, so be on your toes.