How to Haggle with a Panamanian Taxi Driver

First, some context. Taxi drivers complained and raised a ruckus to prevent Uber from bringing disruption to Panamá. Other than airport taxis, where fares are regulated, there are no set fares and taxis don’t have meters.

If you flag a taxi on the street, you should negotiate price up front. And have in mind what you’re willing to pay.

Before Uber, i’ve had taxis pass on taking me as a passenger because they didn’t feel like going to my destination at the time.

Other times, they’ve crammed multiple passengers in the taxi who were going the same direction.

I remember being in a taxi heading to the hospital to see Mom and the driver stopped to take on four young men, Colombians. I had to almost carry one on my lap in the back seat. It was a Friday night and they were headed to a bar. One of them wanted to know why I was going to the hospital. I wasn’t in the mood for chit chat and told them Mom was dying. That poured ice water on their festive spirits.

Getting around via Uber is a luxury compared to those days.

Today, on my return from Taboga, I spotted a taxi at the marina entrance. I gave him my destination through the open window.

“¿La Alameda?”

He nodded yes.

I opened the back door, loaded my bags in the seat, and got in.

“How much?”

“Ten dollars,” he said.

“Ten dollars?! The Uber ride to the marina was six.” True story.

“Seven,” he countered.

“No,” I said, feeling a flash of anger.

I opened the door and started grabbing my bags to leave. “Just because I look like a gringo doesn’t mean you get to charge me more.”

I’ve used this line before.

“Ok, six then. You’re already in the car.”

I closed the door and we continued the ride with no further discussion.

Uber tends to be a better experience.

Amador Causeway
Taxi Ride 11.24.2022

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