I had a great time wandering in Coban. Every time I set out on a mission to find a specific destination I end up encountering so much more.
Turning left instead of right, I always find something of interest.
From a street festival to a new restaurant.
Even people-watching is interesting and this is how I’m able to gather how people live and the daily functions of locals.
Sometimes I get carried away and walk further than my legs are willing to take me for the return trip－that’s a half truth.
Yes I wandered further than 30 minutes from the hotel. Yes I could’ve walked back. No I wasn’t excited at the idea of walking an additional 30 minutes. It is rainy season and it had starting to drizzle sparingly－there you have it, my real excuse.
I have one cab driver that I call when I want to go on an adventure. However, I had no idea of my exact location because street signs with names of streets and numbers aren’t a thing here.
Sure I may have been able to call him and name landmarks but I figured that would frustrate me more than anything else and opted to hail a cab passing by.
Within minutes I was in the backseat of a small, white, four-door cab with a black vinyl/ pleather-ish interior. I told him the name of my hotel. He seemed like he knew where he was going and we set off. Driving, it should have taken him no more than 10-15 minutes to get there.
We get to the corner, the older Guatemalan gentlemen turned and asked me again, where was I going.
I repeat it again and even show him the address. Again, he gives me the nod of affirmation and we continue driving.
We whizzed past the same spots I had covered while walking, so I knew that we were going in the general right direction.
About 4 blocks into the trip, the driver pulls next to another cab. I’m not worried, I’ve seen drivers do this before－meet & greet time.
He then asks the driver where the hotel is. The driver asks him for the street number. He gives him the wrong information. From the backseat I yell over his shoulder to give his friend the correct information.
He nods the familiar signal, gives my lost driver directions and we drive off again.
Now, I’m a little worried.
I told him where I needed to go before I entered the cab
He assured me that he knew where I was going prior to ushering me in
I told him where I needed to go 3 times and he kept giving me the “I understand” nod
We had to ask someone else for directions
We continued driving in what I am sure was the right direction. He turns around again and asks me where I need to go.
At this point I’m thinking he has short-term memory loss because we had been over these details several times.
I spoke loud (he must not hear me and he has poor memory－he does look older, poor old man) and give him the location again. I even gave him several landmarks in hopes that a light bulb would go off. I didn’t see him visually have the “aha moment” I was hoping for. He again gave me “the nod” and followed up with “ohhh okay” as if he didn’t understand me the first few times and he finally understood (this was as close to “aha” as I was going to get so I took it).
I had no faith in his ability to safely deliver me to my destination anytime soon.
We continued on and now, I saw things that I had NEVER seen before. I know, we have gone too far and need to turn around.
Instead of allowing him to continue taking me on this extended tour of Coban, I told him he was going the wrong way and we needed to turn around.
Let me tell you a secret: I have no sense of direction. I frequently take round-about ways to get to destinations because that’s the best I can do. I was born in the city I live in and still use Google Maps to get to 80% of my destinations. If you want to get somewhere, never ask me! If I am in the car with you giving directions, I become mute when I am lost and feel guilty because I’ve gotten us lost.
Mounted to his window is a smart phone with a map application open. Is this just for show? Does his phone not have data? Does it even work? Is this his phone? Is this his cab? Is he kidnapping me? How do I contact Liam Neeson (the star of the Taken series)－if anyone can save me he can.
We turn around. Okay (sigh). I recognize some of this stuff, then we start heading too far south.
At this point, I am contemplating exiting his cab and walking from here (even though I don’t know where “here” is in comparison to “there”－the hotel.
I’m not freaking out completely, just alarmed that this man is driving in circles playing “hotter, too cold” as I navigate myself to the hotel based on where not to go.
I asked him to stop the cab. We had a brief conversation.
“Do you know where you are going?”
“Did you just start driving this cab”
“Is today your first day?”
“Are you from this area?”
“Does the phone with the map application open actually work?”
“Do you seriously not know where we are going”
“How did you get this job?”
These are all questions I wanted to ask. I didn’t ask any of them. I asked him to call someone if he needed, but to get me to my hotel. I again told him where I needed to go, what major landmarks were nearby and asked if he thought he could get me there. He said yes (I didn’t believe him).
Again we start to drive past things that looked familiar. I’m thinking, maybe I should get out while I recognize my surroundings. But I didn’t. We got closer and closer to the hotel, Then… another random turn in the wrong direction. I lightly tapped his shoulder and said, “this is the hotel”. I was in front of a drug store about a block from the hotel. That was good enough!
I quickly paid him and hopped out, walking the rest of way.
NOTE: I’m sure that my experience was unique to me. I have been in several cabs that dropped me off at my destination. I’m not saying that all cab drivers in Coban will have you lost. This one will though.
Lesson Learned: Don’t just allow people to take you for rides! Remind them of where you are headed and if they aren’t going to that same destination, get out! Years will go by and you’ll be left wondering how you ended where you allowed someone to take you.
Another adventure for the books.