There are many benefits to riding in taxis:
1) You don't have to risk your life walking or riding a bike. Sidewalks don't exist here. Not because there aren't any built alongside the road but because a car at any point will go ahead and drive on it.
2) It's warm. Since I haven't yet aquired my fur-lined hood or surgeon's mask that the people here wear to keep warm, I resort to taxi heat. In fact, an American friend of ours even hailed a cab for me just to sit in while we were waiting on some other friends.
3) Language practice. I mean, who else would tolerate a crazy foreigner and her limited (and might I add very RANDOM!) vocabulary skills? A cab driver is more or less forced to sit, listen, and even participate in "conversation."
I'd like to give you a little taste of my taxi conversation from this afternoon. (I'd also like to add that this was my first solo trip. No Kevin, no other foreigner...just me and my driver!)
Me: How are you?
Cab driver: Huh?
Me: (in my head) ok...that one didn't work...onto the next question...do you like to eat apples?
Cab driver: some sort of response...I have no clue what he said...
Me: Do you like small dogs?
Cab driver: Laughs at me.
Me: Do you have any children?
Cab driver: Two children. (Finally! An answer I can understand!)
Me: How old are they?
Cab driver: Some numbers I can't understand. I hate learning numbers! I never learned numbers when I studied spanish. Somehow I don't think thay will work out well for me here...
Me: Are you tired?
Cab driver: No.
Me: Are you cold? I am cold. But I have this (point to coat) and this (point to gloves). What are these called?
Cab driver: Repeats word. Repeats word again because I have utterly mispronounced it in my feeble attempt at repetition.
Me: (as we pass a roller coaster...weird...random roller coaster on side of the highway) Do you like this?
Cab driver: Laughs. Says no...I think.
It goes on like this for a while. Actually, not for while since it really doesn't take long to exhaust my vocabulary list.
Back to the books until I can come up with some other random questions!