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Taxis in Jamaica

I once went to Jamaica and thought I wouldn’t make it out alive. My husband took me for my 40th birthday. The 1.5 hour taxi ride from the airport to the hotel was my first brush with death. On a two-lane winding road the driver passed other cars on blind corners all the while honking his horn as he did so.

The driver also stopped at several beverage stands along the way so that we could buy drugs that we didn’t want. I guess he had a partnership with these dudes in shacks selling cold drinks. When we declined at the first shack, he stopped at another. So we bought some weed because we figured  he would keep stopping until a purchase was complete.

The resort itself was amazing. It was on perched on a rocky cliff. There was no beach, but it didn’t matter. And it was protected surrounded by a 30-foot wall. This was the kind of place you went to completely shut down from the outside world, not one of those all-inclusive-tons-of-stuff-to-do type places. In the four days I was there, I snorkeled, swam, lay topless by the pool, read three books, sipped fruity cocktails and visited the spa a couple times.

On the third day, I was going a little stir crazy and wanted to go to a restaurant in the city of Negril. It was advised not to take a passing taxi for safety reasons, and to only take one that the hotel called. Unbeknownst to me, because I was lagging behind, I hopped into a passing taxi flagged down by my husband.

I looked around the van I was seated in and realized the entire inside of it was destroyed. The bench seat I was on wasn’t bolted and I was sliding all over the van. There was no fabric on the roof or the sides. There was nothing but exposed metal. I saw a handmade sign on a stick next to the driver that said, “TAXI.” This was not a taxi. This man was going to rob and kill us. Surprisingly, he didn’t. He was just out trying to make extra money because he had five kids and his job as an ambulance driver didn’t pay enough.

We had him return for us in two hours to take us back to the hotel. It was dark then and the thought crossed my mind that he might slit our throats on the way back.

We left the next day and endured another harrowing ride (of horn honking while blind corner passing) back to the airport where this driver made no stops at the beverage stands. I guess they didn’t expect us to buy drugs when we going to be getting on a plane.

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