I got really tired of wondering if I was being driven around aimlessly in taxis in order to jack up the fare.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against taxi drivers. However, in every population, you have good eggs and bad eggs. I figured my hands were tied as I had no idea where I was or the most efficient way to get there. Especially because there are so many one way streets and crazy U-turns, who was I to say the best way to get to my destination.
But then I got a plan. Google Maps.
Every time I take a taxi, I arm myself with a piece of paper mapping out the path. This accomplishes two things. One, it lets the driver know that you’ve reviewed the path and you have an idea of where you are going. Two, if you, like me, cannot pronounce most of the streets in Sao Paulo, it’s written right on the paper.
All it involves is plotting the course in Google Maps and printing only the large map (must check “add large map” box) in black and white (no use wasting color cartridge on this exercise).
This could work in any foreign city. Sure, you might risk insulting the driver when you hand it to them, but weigh that against being taken for your reis. Plus, from my experiences, foreigners get a lot of leeway when it comes to be appropriate.
Most of the drivers I’ve handed maps to glanced at it and handed it right back to me. Some of them doing so while laughing. Only once did it backfire on me. I handed the map to a young driver, who didn’t hand it back to me, but instead nervously glanced at it during the entire trip. It wasn’t a great map, I couldn’t fit the details on one page, so it didn’t list all the roads. So I got nervous and started trying to plot it out for him on my iPhone GPS, but I couldn’t get it to work. So the ride was a bit stressful.
In the end, he got my daughter and I where we needed to go, without veering from the path. So I will continue with my taxi tactic.