When I tell people at home that I love solo travel, I get the raised eyebrows. I love meeting new people and hanging out in non-touristy parts of cities. I don’t bring anything that screams “hey, please rob me” and certainly don’t leave my drink unattended. I am very aware of the things that happen, just because the radar is up and running doesn’t mean it is blinking all the time.
Last night, was the first shady experience I’ve had as a solo female traveller and in one of my favourite counties no less. I was leaving a friend’s house in Santiago, Chile to head back to my accommodations and as per usual, I hailed a taxi so that I could head home. I had no issues the previous night, whilst being pretty hammered… So this time around, it should have been a breeze.
Anyhow, I hopped in and knew the way back and of course, I asked for the meter to be turned on. I knew that the ride was roughly 7,000 pesos so I was quite cognizant of that. Like all drivers, uber or taxi, they like to chat a bit as I would imagine it’s pretty boring without a bit of conversation.
He spoke a bit of English and I, a bit of Spanish; my listening skills are better than speaking that’s for sure. The typical, “Where are you from?”, “Where are you going to next?” questions. Anyhow, the conversation got to a weird turn, when he asked, “Why was I alone?” and “Whether I was renting an apartment in the area I was going to?”; it was the way he said it that got my gut saying, “Get the hell outta there asap.” I kept repeating that I texted my friends that I was leaving, they’re expecting me soon and that I am already late so they will keep wondering where I am.
When we finally stopped right across the street where I was supposed to get out, the meter said 8,300 pesos which is a lot already and I gave him 10,000 pesos. He just stared at me and said, “mas” and autolocked the door. He expected me to pay 30,000 pesos for his time to get me to my location in addition to the meter. Every time I reached for the door he kept locking the door, so I calmly just gave him small bills.. 5,000 and 1,000 while I searched for my key and made it seem like I was scrounging for money.
There’s a part of me that refuses to give in but, I needed to get out asap. So, he kept saying “mas” as he counted what I owed and was getting angry; you’re robbing me and you are mad?? I just said, “No mas, No tengo” over and over – pretty sure he could sense I was about to cry.
Luckily, someone walked by and I just banged on the door. The car door unlocked, and I took off to get home.
So, did he rob me? Idk. He ripped me off in an asshole-ish way, that’s for sure. It was a shitty experience by some douchebag who thought he could take advantage of a traveller. It could have played out so much worse, but thankfully it didn’t.
Am I unnerved? Sure, but it doesn’t stop me from enjoying my travels. Shitty experiences happen but I have 3 years of travel without incident and this was a just a minor blip. Also, for the last 2.5 weeks I’ve had a killer time with amazing people and looking forward to my last stops in Chile before I head home to Toronto. Honestly, I was bound to have a sketchy experience at some point 🙂
Douchebags are everywhere in this grand world; heck I’ve dated a few! The experience was ridiculous, but he made off with an extra 20 bucks versus stealing my bag or hurting me. So, all in all it was a good learning experience.
It doesn’t stop me from travelling or getting into cabs and certainly, I don’t love Santiago any less. If anything, I love it more because the people I was staying with were making sure I was ok and just being a kind.
With the piles of crap, remember that you have a bunch of awesome times that trump the crappy experience. If I let that douchebag ruin my vision or stay in Santiago, he would win. I don’t like to lose, so I enjoyed the next day as I would normally. Although, I do hope he gets what he deserves.
Going to Santiago?
Download the below apps for cabs as they track the credentials, route, etc,