Friday, June 12, 2009

Go Moto

One of the advantages of our strange location in Oaxaca (not quite in the center of things, not officially the municipality of Oaxaca) is that we live near moto-taxi country. Motos run on the back roads only, because taxistas have licenses for the main roads.

A typical moto consists of a motorcycle front with a little roofed cart attached to the back. Usually no doors. The windshield sports a nickname, possibly quite descriptive and sometimes in English, such as the man with the "Night of the 1,000 Loves" moto-taxi last week who asked for a Spanish translation of the nickname and then laughed delightedly.

When the car is broken (often), we grab a moto to get the kids to school, joining the legions of mommies and daddies hauling babies, backpacks and market bags into these lightweight taxis.

Paying for a moto is a fixed price affair, 5 pesos per person, although you never know what happens with kids. Some throw in the nena for free and others go for half price.

Since the motos have to stick to a pretty defined, limited area, the routes do not vary widely. I used to go into a long description of where Colegio Teizcali was located before a friend was kind enough to point out that all I have to tell the moto-taxista is that I want to go to "la posta", which, I believe, is the large post located on a corner across from the school. To get back home, rather than awkwardly trying to pronounce Rio Quiyotepec and then trying to direct us there, all I have to say is "a la antenna", which is a giant antenna structure two blocks from our house.

Moto-taxistas are big on swerving. They like to turn off the engine and coast down hills. They hook up CD players, Ipods and flashing lights to pimp their rides. They are often young, maybe pre-driving age, and there is a healthy portion of women operating them.

When we ride moto-taxis, my kids become puppies with their tongues flying out of their mouths in the open breeze. Every bump, ditch and turn is up for speculation--will we make it?--and conversation--we made it! Graffiti is brighter, the air a little less diesel-tinged and the markets something to avoid rather than to dive into. Whenever we take a moto up to Colegio Teizcali, the kids tumble out laughing and thrilled, like we just got off a roller coaster. And me, the one gripping onto Geni to keep her from jumping for joy, holding the backpacks between my knees so they don't get lost as we sail over a speed bump, trying to grab onto the driver's unbolted seat to hold us all in place, I love it all dearly, too.

1 comment:

mighty jo said...

that sounds crazy-fun! maybe i'll do that instead of a new car! or at least set up a scooter with a sidecar for my boys.