Sunday, May 09, 2010

Indestructible corollas

Taxis here are blue and white. Well, they are mostly blue, with various white stripes and piping, but from what I can tell, no two paint jobs are alike. Apparently, the requirement is to just be mostly blue with some white stripes and make it look however you want. (For what it’s worth, the buses are 12-15 passenger vans that are mostly blue with some yellow. However I did see one with yellow as the dominant color. Blasphemy, the guy who drives it probably gets made fun of by the other bus drivers.)

The preeminent taxi vehicle is the Toyota Corolla, circa late 80’s or early 90’s. From the looks of them, it seems like most are sixth generation or possibly seventh generation Corollas. There are some Nissans and a few others thrown into the mix, but it is the almighty and indestructible Corolla that rules the roads here (since most vehicles appear to be taxis). And they are indestructible. Sure they may rattle and squeak and apparently the check engine light is defaulted to being on when they import them here, but they have taught me you can throw dreadfully awful roads at a car and it will survive, though the passengers and their Faberge eggs may not make it. An added bonus is that seatbelts are apparently dead weight and not to be found in many of them. Much like a taxi with more than half a tank of gas. As to whether or not I should tell some taxi drivers that the giant ‘Turbo’ sticker in the rear windshield will not actually make the car go faster seems a bit esoteric. (Note: Turbo is actually a common brand of beer here).

Truth be told, it seems like most taxi drivers take care of their vehicles as best they can. While I may not care for their choice of music, every car I have been in has been clean with seat covers and a reasonable attempt to personalize the vehicle a little bit. During various times of the day, you can usually see several parked near some water with the drivers washing them and wiping them down, keeping them as clean as possible given the roads, occasional mud, and constant dust. Mechanical maintenance is a bit less clear, though any 20-year old car is often in need of replacement bits and pieces like wiring, switches, fuses, and check engine lights.

There undoubtedly comes a time when these vehicles return to the great assembly line in the sky. Or an abandoned mine shaft. Rest assured that these vehicles have seen every bit of their useful life squeezed from them.

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