A few days ago, I was checking out various parts of Mexico City.
Really covering some extremely obscure areas of the city especially.
One of the best and honestly more interesting things I've done in the last year is get on the cablebus of Mexico City as you can see here.
They have two of them: one in Gustavo A. Madero and the other in Iztapalapa.
They serve as a way to get people from some of the poorest and most difficult to reach areas that are highly populated to other parts of the city and make commuting easier for them.
It ultimately can cut down on the commute time by an hour or two.
And, if I'm being honest with you, I had a fucking blast going on both of the two cablebuses that they have over the last 2 days.
1: They took me up the mountains that I'm always fascinated by in terms of what it is like up there.
2. I love visiting obscure areas and being off the typical gringo tourist trail.
3. I love being in the air and getting a view of the city for various reasons.
More on my experience later in future articles when I get to it.
Anyway, I ended up taking the cablebus in Iztapalapa the other day.
It was my very first time ever getting on one.
Almost felt like I was on an airplane again. A very slow moving airplane.
And I eventually arrived to an area called Santa Marta.
There were two things I wanted to see specifically that I saw recommended on Google in terms of places to visit in Iztapalapa.
They are not really very exciting or interesting places but I've already covered the most exciting bits of this area and am just checking out whatever else is left that is recommended online.
Specifically, Overlord Google told me to visit the following:
1. A monument called "monumento al General Ignacio Zaragoza"
2. Capilla la Ermita Civica de Benito Messeguer
So, once outside cablebus Santa Marta, I take this picture here.
And I notice immediately that there are no taxis parked anywhere and just a bunch of combis, buses, etc.
"That's odd" I thought
After all, with so many people here, wouldn't there be a demand for taxis?
And I begin looking for a taxi as you can see in this photo here.
There's a shit ton of vehicles passing by but I have the bad luck of almost all of the taxis speeding up and not looking for anyone in the area to pick up.
Despite seemingly all of them appearing empty.
Eventually, one guy stops and I ask him about these areas and he genuinely doesn't know where they are.
He speeds off.
Before he does though, I walk away and see behind me some cop seemingly berating the taxi driver.
Not sure why.
Right away, I realize I should've explained better where it was because, according to Google, all the dude would've had to do is drive straight for about 2 minutes down the road and he would've taken me there.
It really was that close.
In hindsight, I also could've just gotten back on the metro and gone to Metro Acatitla and walk from there.
Anyway, I eventually get a taxi soon after stepping into some shade as the sun was beating down on me.
The guy doesn't know where it is exactly either.
But he pulls out his phone and says he can use Google for directions.
I ask him "you use the machine, right?"
He says "I can give you a price, no problem."
Which is two red flags right there.
For one, whenever some local in another country tells me "no problem, no problem," I just associate that now with scammers.
Similar to when a stranger calls you "my friend."
More importantly, a driver who would rather give you a fixed price instead of using the machine that calculates the price during the ride is ripping you off always in Mexico City.
Not in other Mexican cities where the meter isn't used commonly.
But always in Mexico City.
Everyone uses the meter and there's no reason to take a fixed price.
The Ride Over: A Rigged Machine?
Anyway, I ask again if "he'll use the machine" and he says "yes, yes."
Then I get in after he says panicking "get in, get in, the police are coming."
Out of curiosity, I ask him if "taxis are not allowed here" and he says "no, we can't park there. The police get mad."
Not sure how true that is but it wouldn't surprise me if they prohibit taxis from picking people up from there. Maybe it's some collective effort by combis to limit the competition? I have no idea.
He then fucks around with his phone.
He isn't able to find directions for the monument as Google is giving him the address of some other monument with a similar name about an hour drive away.
We then look at the address of the other place.
Keep in mind that both spots are right next to each other.
Google finds it easily.
We get moving.
The machine is not turned on.
I tell him "so you're going to use the machine, right?"
He turns it on.
It starts at 13 pesos.
Which is another red flag.
They always start at 8.75 pesos in Mexico City.
I go along with it anyhow because it's only 4.25 pesos or basically 20 cents.
Plus, I'm already in the vehicle and we are moving.
Anyway, I notice oddly enough that the meter is going up at a noticeably faster rate than what is normal.
I'm looking at his hands because I've been told that some taxi drivers have some gadget that they can press a button to increase the rate faster.
He doesn't seem to have that as he's using both hands to drive normally.
So I'm not sure why it's going up so quickly.
We get to the spot anyway in a few minutes and the money owed so far was something like 40 pesos or 2 bucks.
He begins warning me as we show up that "this is a very dangerous area. I got robbed here recently. Very, very dangerous area."
It honestly looked OK to me.
Sure, if he was walking here around night time and with some bad luck, I could see someone mugging him here.
But the area just looked normal to me.
I've seen neighborhoods way worse than this.
Anyway, I get out of the taxi to take photos of the two spots.
Here they are.
Back in the taxi in less than a minute because they honestly are not much to look at.
I did what the Google Overlords told me and now I have finished seeing most of everything in Iztapalapa.
Having said that, I'm sure someday a local from Iztapalapa will post a comment on this article about how "no way bro, you don't know Iztapalapa. You missed the most important sports bar that my grandpa owns on that one street next to a laundromat. You don't know nothing!"
Anyway, I get back in the taxi.
And the machine now reads 60 pesos.
A literal 20 peso increase in what was 45 seconds.
What the fuck.
Never would it go up that fast so quickly.
If this dude does have some button somewhere that he presses to increase the rate, he must've been tapping that shit fast in that short time.
For context, I just visited some pyramids yesterday in Estado de Mexico where I had another taxi driver wait for me 20 minutes while I checked them out and the rate increased by 15 pesos.
I've had many other taxi drivers be turned into my personal drivers showing me around the city and waiting for me for similar periods of time and the rate going up that slowly.
So now, all of a sudden, I have Mr. Fancy Taxi Driver charging 20 pesos for 45 seconds of waiting?
Does his taxi service at least include a free beer for these high prices?
Because at least one of us is drunk and it's not me.
"Look at Those Poor People, Gringo!"
Anyway, it's just a dollar difference but I did half jokingly say to him "your machine goes up pretty fast, doesn't it?"
He went "huh?!" and kept on driving back to the metro.
I told him to take me back to the cablebus but he drops me off at Metro Acatitla.
So not only is he a scam taxi driver but he's also lazy to drive the extra minute or minute and a half.
Before we got to Metro Acatitla though, he put on a whole song and dance.
He began slowing his vehicle down and pointing repeatedly at the little park area that had the two places I wanted to visit.
And he's saying over and over again "this is where I got robbed! Look look!"
That doesn't work.
He then says "look at those poor buildings too! It's so poor! Very dangerous area! Look at how poor those buildings are!"
Which, given he thinks I must be just a typical tourist, is perhaps a bit funny that he'd think I'd be impressed by poor buildings.
Motherfucker, I've seen way worse than this neighborhood.
But he is repeatedly and in a very excessive manner trying desperately to get me to look away from the machine and look outside the window.
I'm not looking.
My eyes are fixed on the meter.
Given I already saw though the price increase quite quickly on our ride to the spot and also jump 20 pesos in less than 45 seconds, I can only imagine what he was planning on doing with the price one final time before dropping me off.
I was convinced by this point that he must have some button somewhere that increases the price.
Does he have several buttons that increase them by different amounts?
Perhaps a button for 100 pesos or 200 pesos?
The joke would've been on him because I don't normally carry that much cash on me outside.
I probably had on me maybe 300 pesos (15 bucks).
Anyway, my eyes are fixated on the machine and I just go "yup, yup, cool story bro. Poor people? Sucks to be them."
In his eyes from the car mirror, he looks disappointed.
We stop at Metro Acatitla.
The machine read 71 pesos.
I pull out the exact change of 71 pesos in hand.
If I didn't, he'd probably have tried to keep all of it, say he doesn't have change, perhaps give me a fake bill or whatever.
But after giving him the 71 pesos, he looks down on the floor and says "hey, this ain't right. It was 100 pesos."
Keep in mind that he erased the number from the machine by this point as I was going through my wallet for 71 pesos.
I respond back "no, it said 71. I saw the machine."
He doesn't argue.
Probably because he got paid 71 pesos for a ride that would've been 30 to 35 pesos normally.
In the end, he scammed me for a grand total of 1.6 dollars.
There's a few things to add.
The Latin American Who Thinks Gringos Can't Read Numbers
There is a certain oddity in some Latin Americans that try to scam gringos.
And, when I say gringos, I mean the South American sense of the term where it means white foreigners generally and not just Americans like how Mexicans use the term.
Where said Latin American, when offering an exchange or service to the gringo, truly thinks that the gringo cannot read numbers off a machine or a menu.
Some are truly that fucking retarded to think that.
I wrote about other examples before in this article here.
In one example, I had a hotdog vendor argue with me about the price insisting it was way more than what the menu says.
I get prices increase from time to time but it was way more than normal to the point it wasn't a price increase. Just him trying to get a few extra dollars.
On another occasion, a lady at a convenience store tried lying to me about how the toilet paper costs.
Her computer in front of me said something like 11 or 12 pesos and she insisted on 24 or 25.
And the machine was right fucking in front of me saying the price. The sticker also said the price. Lady, I can read fucking numbers. Jesus christ, you ignorant retard.
And that's the truth!
You truly do some some people down here who have the IQ of someone with down syndrome and are so ignorant that they think that, by being a foreigner, I can't read numbers.
And, when I say "read numbers," I don't mean in letter form.
Like "cien" for 100.
I mean that it's in literal numbers.
"11" for the the toilet paper, "35" for the hotdog and "71" for the taxi driver.
These specific individuals truly do not think that I can read those numbers.
How ignorant can you be?
But also how stupid can you be?
You really think that a grown ass adult isn't going to notice the price and go "wait a second, that's the price!"
I don't get it.
It's a fact that some Latin Americans truly think that, by being a foreigner, we won't notice those details.
At how truly retarded and ignorant that is.
Second, the price itself doesn't bother me.
It was weird in the moment at how fast the meter was running.
If I was doing one of my 7 to 9 hour taxi tours where I turn the dude into my personal driver like I've done on several occasions, I wouldn't have stayed in the taxi.
At the rate he's going, I couldn't imagine what the price would be.
Also, he probably would've tried distracting me with any little thing for a longer ride and that'd just be annoying.
Yelling out the following:
"LOOK LOOK! IT'S AN ICE CREAM STORE! WHERE THEY SELL ICE CREAM!"
"OMG DID YOU SEE THAT GUY READING A NEWSPAPER IN A PARK?!? LOOK!!!!"
"DIOS MIO!!! THAT'S MY COUSIN -- ERR I MEAN WIFE -- OVER THERE BUYING SHOES!!!"
Going back to price, those 7 to 9 hour taxi rides cost me 40 to 45 bucks.
With this taxi driver, I would've been getting Gringolandia prices.
But yet in Iztapalapa.
Still, for a short ride like that, it's only 1.6 USD.
Which brings us to another point.
Third, as I was going back to the Santa Marta cablebus, I was actually chuckling a little bit at how funny that was.
I'm not actually mad at how ignorant the guy was for not thinking I can't read numbers. That's more funny than anything.
But, as I was walking away, I was finding it more humorous actually his song and dance.
The little show he was putting on to get me to look outside the window.
Going from "I GOT ROBBED! LOOK LOOK!" to "LOOK! POOR PEOPLE LIVE THERE! THEY'RE SO POOR! LOOK AT THE POOR PEOPLE!"
Bro, I already saw that area. We visited it. I got out of the taxi to take pictures. I know what it looks like.
What's most ironic though is that the motherfucker is likely very poor himself.
If he's doing a song and dance to hustle hard for that extra 1.6 USD, then he probably has quite a bit of arroz frito con huevo blanco for a lot of meals.
He told me he lives by Centro Historico at one point in the ride.
Which means 2 things:
One, it doesn't surprise me that he tried ripping me off as so many of the bars and restaurants in that area are dog shit for ripping people off.
Two, "Centro Historico" is probably code word for Tepito if his poor ass is doing a song and dance for that 1.6 USD.
Unless he rips off enough people. Then maybe he does live in a nicer area!
Above all though, the image of a grown ass man putting on a performance for a few extra quarters was something I found humorous on the way back home.
You really had to be there. My words can't exaggerate just how desperate he was to get me to look outside the window.
Tips on the Latin American Who Thinks You Are Blind
Finally, what should you do if you find yourself in this situation where a local is arguing that the price is higher than what it says on paper?
Personally, I find most Mexican taxi drivers to be honest.
There are certain countries like like Colombia or the DR that make this taxi driver look like a saint.
They are the reason I even wrote this article here titled: "I fucking hate taxi drivers in Latin America."
Reminds me of Tony Montana's most famous quote here.
I Do Not Like Colombians - Tony Montana
"I don't like fucking Colombians."
Yeah Tony, I get you.
But, back to what I was saying, I'd also add too that, to be fair, most Latin Americans are not retarded enough to try claiming that the price is different than what is on paper.
It is an experience that happens to me once a year.
If I was in Colombia or the DR, it'd be a lot more.
Anyway, what should you do if it happens to you?
For one, know that the local perhaps is being honest.
It might be the case that the price did increase but they haven't changed the menu yet.
In such cases, the price increase is fairly small usually.
Second, if the price increase is substantial, you might be inclined to just walk away.
And I recommend that if you haven't used their service yet (like in a taxi).
Though, in some cases, that might not be the case as the person ripping you off has friends.
For example, everyone knows that Xochimilco of Mexico City has a bunch of scammers.
I've never been scammed there but countless Mexicans and foreigners complain about it.
The going rate for a boat on the water in Xochimilco is 500 pesos an hour for the whole group (NOT PERSON).
So sometimes the person, despite the prices being written down clearly, might insist you pay 1,000 to 4,000 pesos.
As you can see in this video here, if you challenge them, literally everyone and grandma comes threatening you.
SCAMMED in MEXICO CITY! (DON'T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU) -- Xochimilco
In such a scenario, all you can hope for is the police get involved.
In some cities, there might be "tourist police" that are more reliable usually.
Normal police can sometimes be in on it, bought by the scammers or whatever else.
So you might be fucking yourself with that one.
The only other tip here for when you are using the service of anyone (taxi ride, a tour of Xochimilco, whatever) is to ask for the price before you go along with it.
If the price is shit, walk away.
Going back to taxis, some cities in Latin America have meters (like Mexico City) so you'd just ask "you use the machine, right?"
Always ask that.
The motherfucker, like you saw with the taxi driver mentioned, might try repeatedly to ignore putting on the machine.
Even if he has it rigged.
Though, when it comes to taxis in Mexico City, you do have select parts of the city where drivers don't use the machine.
They are very isolated and heavily populated areas with limited public transportation options like by San Francisco Apolocalco or Malacates north of Cuautepec in Gustavo A. Madero where you got more "pirate taxis."
While I've been told they are cheaper, my experience is that they are not as they usually see your gringo ass and quote exaggerated prices.
With them, you'd be asking for the price before getting in like you would in most Latin American cities.
In other cities like most of Mexico City or Bogota, you'd ask if they use the meter before getting in.
Which they always should do but I always ask because you do have some that would try to not use it or say after "opps, forgot to turn it on. How about 200 pesos? Yes, this good price?
Third, if you notice the price is going up rapidly that day, should you get out?
In my case, I didn't because it was a simple 2 minute ride.
How bad could it get?
Like I said, unless the guy had a secret button for 1,000 pesos (JACKPOT!), then I doubt it would've been much (though he was trying hard to get me to look away).
But, like I said, if you plan on having a longer ride of 20 to 30 minutes, I'd just get the fuck out and find a new taxi.
I'd wonder though if the dude would chase you down for those 3 minutes he had you or would he piss off?
Your guess is as good as mine.
You could argue with him. He'll probably go away.
Or you could just grab your stuff, ask him to stop somewhere by the side of the road so you can "take a picture," then get the fuck out and walk away without paying the 10 or 20 pesos that the machine would read if you caught on early enough to a rigged machine.
Perhaps you could pretend to not understand him if he yells something because, as I wrote here, sometimes pretending to not speak Spanish well helps you down here.
But, if you do wish to communicate, just say maybe "I'm going to take more pics. Be right back."
Because you are a gringo that he thinks is a tourist, that could work. As I wrote here, there are established perceptions locals have about you as a gringo that make it easy to fuck them back (that you have more money, you don't fuck people over, you are educated, etc).
I've had taxi drivers wait for me as I disappeared out of sight to take pics. Plenty of times. Not saying everyone would be cool with that but I never had one protest so far.
At times where the machine read 700 pesos for long 8 hour trips or as little as 40 pesos.
I always came back though as they were never scamming me but I could've ditched.
If he threatens to call the cops though, they definitely aren't showing up for such a pitiful amount and you can just leave him behind most likely.
Though we'll get back to that in a second.
If he gets into a fight with you, well you better hope he doesn't have a gun or a knife.
Some naco type fella, you know?
But that probably wouldn't escalate to that point if you got out early.
Fourth, could you fuck with a driver that uses these rigged machines?
Report them to the police or their company?
It's an idea if you have time to kill.
You may not always have the contact info though of the taxi driver or his company (not always available in Latin America).
And the police -- while probably not bought out by a lonely taxi driver -- are not likely to do much.
I'd bet Mexico City has laws against it but I doubt you could prove after the fact that he was rigging the price.
The only way I could see it maybe turning out this way is if you get into an argument with the guy in the moment and he threatens to call the police if you don't agree with his price.
For one, if that happens, I'd bet you could just walk away. The police are so shit down here at even investigating murder that I doubt they'd chase you down over a 3 dollar taxi price.
But, if he does threaten the police and if you could confirm that there are laws against rigged machines, then I guess you could threaten him back.
"Go ahead. Call the police. I'll tell them my side of the story and we'll show them that rigged machine of yours. Want to be fined?"
The very first proof you'd have, at least with the guy I had that day, is that the machine starts at 13 and not 8.75.
Maybe some taxis start at that here but I've never seen that.
To do this though, your Spanish better be good enough if the police did come.
And especially if he's a real low class naco type, prepare for some yelling from the guy as he tries to interrupt you speaking with the police (who again are most likely not going to intervene).
This is where you embrace your stereotype of being an educated and well mannered foreigner while he demonstrates his naco mannerisms that would make any Mexican ashamed that he represents Mexico to outsiders.
Try to act like an innocent victim from another country that is just confused and being taken advantage of by this low class loser.
Fifth, as I wrote in that one article cited again here, you really should learn to just shrug it off or learn to laugh at some of the stupidity down here.
It might get very annoying at times or bizarre (seriously -- you think I can't read the machine?) but it is what it is.
If you let every little thing get to you down here, you'll be on the verge of wanting to kill people because of how often dumb shit happens.
So learn to laugh it off. At the end of the day, especially in these minor incidents like with the taxi guy, it's only 1.6 USD and you find dumb people in every country.
And, like I said, Mexico is by far not the worst country of Latin America when it comes to this shit like I said before.
Finally, isn't this all just one giant advertisement for Uber?
Uber should probably pay me for writing this article.
It's always ironic to me that taxi drivers in Latin America, like you can see below, bitch about Uber stealing business when the taxi drivers offer shit service for higher prices.
That's so typical of so many folks down here.
Offer shit service and then bitch when people don't go back as you failed at limiting the competition.
A mindset all too common down here: Better to kill the competition than to offer a better service.
Both on a local level and, whenever protectionist trade policies are put up by populist governments, a national level.
It's much easier to limit competition from taking your money and bitches than it is to improve your product or service.
It's also the way of low IQ retards.
It's also one reason why -- among many others -- for why the region under performs in some aspects as I wrote here.
But, to be fair to Latin America, it's not that the whole region is like that.
Some areas worse than others.
Above all, many of the problems discussed here are, as I said, not that bad in Mexico City.
It's one reason why I loved the city so much.
A breath of fresh air from the constant fuckery you get in Colombia or the DR.
Jesus Christ -- I think my vision just went dark. Memories of low IQ Colombian scammers are coming back. I see blood. Filled with anger. Ready to stab someone. Is this PTSD?
Anyway, that's all I got to say.
If you got anything to add, drop a comment below.
And follow my Twitter here.
Thanks for reading.