Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Ibague Turismo

Spongebob says there's plenty of room between that van and the pickup.

Have you ever played the video game Gran Turismo with one of the four-banger cars, hurtling yourself into the twists and turns at top speed with the engine screaming?

Well that was our trip to the mall this afternoon from downtown Ibague. I've been to a lot of countries and rode in a lot of taxis that were a bit crazy but this guy in Ibague takes the Pole Position. In his little, tiny Hyundai hatchback, the engine is screaming at maximum rpms as he hurtles the car left, right and to the right again. No bus is too big and no curb is too close for this guy. It's a mad dash for the mall and he's going to make the most of our 4,800 peso cab fare.

They use yellow dashes to split oncoming traffic. No problem, just mash the accelerator to the floor and shift into a lower gear. If not by speed then we're going to make it through sheer willpower. At first I didn't notice so much because Rodrigo and I were into our conversation but soon after taking off, the absolute rollercoaster character of the ride overcame any discussion about coffee or profitability. I was soon laughing at the absurdity of it all.

Jog left and hit the gas. Ooops, no we can't beat that oncoming pickup truck, back off and swing to the right. Is there space? Not really but our Colombian Road Warrior is going to prove that we will fit. Zoom and we're sliding in front of some car and narrowly missing that chick on a motorcycle. Another turn and crap - they're too close and we slide to a stop just a half foot from another bike.

Motorcycles be damned!

Another car moves a half length and we're off onto the wrong side of the road. Or perhaps All Your Roads Belong To Us. Those who Rocket: Rule. The little Hyundai can't do anything near what I would consider "rocketing" but that doesn't deter our driver from sliding back to the left side of the road on a right-turning curve with a bus blocking our return to the right'.

By this point, I'm no longer concerned. I'm sure we'll make it. Even if we don't, I've accepted it. A crash won't upset me, it will only make me laugh because I'm having so much fun.

When you're playing Gran Turismo, you do crazy things like send your car screaming into a turn that you're unlikely to make - if for no other reason than you know that it's a video game and nothing will harm you. Imagine doing that in real life, in a real car and you've just started to have an idea of what today's ride to the mall was like.

Looking forward to more taxi rides tomorrow.

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