Driving around Rio

You always pay more for taxis in Rio. They are used to tourists and they know that there is a kind of differential tourists are willing to pay, or maybe don’t know they are paying.  But this time I got by w/o too much trouble.  I suspect the driver that took us from the airport to the hotel was taking us for a ride.  When I noticed we seemed to be going the wrong way and commented to him, he told me that there was a big music festival and we could not take the usual shorter route.  Maybe that was true.  I ended up paying more for an extra-long ride and when he gave me change, he did so with small bills, pausing each time until I just told him to keep the rest.   But on the way back from Sugar Loaf, we got a driver who actually used the meter and it told the right amount.  We went with the notorious “flat rate” to the statue of Christ.  I didn’t mind paying, since the guy waited for us and took us back down.  When I came with Espen a few months ago it was hard to find a taxi back.  The convenience was worth the price and the taxi driver was interesting.

He told me that he had been driving cab for about seven years.  He was a cop before that, but police work was too dangerous.   He said that in his police academy class of seventy, twenty-four had been killed in the line of duty four years later when he decided to seek a more tranquil profession.  Of course, he was a cop in the middle of all that trouble with drug dealers in the favelas.  Things are calmer now.

Taxi drivers in Rio own and maintain their own cabs, although licensed and regulated by the city.  He can have up to two other people drive the car.    His car is completely flex-fuel.  It can run on gasoline, ethanol or natural gas.   These days by far the best fuel is natural gas.  It costs the least and gets the most mileage per unit, more than twice as much as ethanol.  Ethanol is the worst.  Mileage is poor for the price.  Gasoline is in the middle.   Natural gas also has the advantage of better engine wear and less pollution.   He asked if we use much natural gas in the U.S.   We don’t.  Busses often run on natural gas and some delivery fleets are turning over to gas, but we don’t currently have the infrastructure.  I suppose that might change with the fracking boom.   Changing to natural gas makes the cities cleaner and quieter than they would otherwise be, in addition to saving money.

Rio really is a pretty city.  Mariza is visiting and I wanted her to see it.  We went to Acre last time she was here.  That was an interesting experience, but not the pleasant one you get in Rio.   Rio is really one of the world’s most beautiful cities.

We saw a double rainbow over Copacabana.  It was gone before we got our cameras.  Would not have done it justice anyway.   But the red sky was still interesting.  Red sky at night, sailors delight. The picture doesn’t do that justice either.