Close Encounters of the Island Cabby Kind

If there’s one thing that is pretty much the same in every country in the world, it’s that cab drivers talk a lot of shit. They are often the first point of contact for tourists visiting any given destination and with their audience held captive in transport, many use the opportunity to “educate” their guests on a variety of random topics that happen to cross their minds.

Island cabbies are no exception. Though the difference here, I’ve found, is that for whatever reason, the tourists visiting our rocks often blindly accept all information provided by their island cab drivers, touting it everywhere they go afterwards as indisputable fact. This was always a particular peeve of mine when I used to work in hotels, as I felt like I was caught having to work double-duty to clear up some of the ridiculous misconceptions the tourists had been spoon fed. No, iguanas have never bitten anyone’s ear off while sunbathing at our pool. It’s really nothing to worry about, I promise. Who told you that?

*click for image credit

We rock dwellers get to see this firsthand during those times we end up in a cab on our islands ourselves and experience many a face-palm moment. So this is what the tourists are encountering these days… Now, I’m not trying to pick on the cabbies (though seeing as how the Taxi Associations tend to be the most powerful unions on most rocks, I seriously doubt any would feel bullied by little old me…), and I will say I do know plenty who are extremely hard working, kind individuals who do their best to represent their home with pride… but there are also these cabbies. The ones that shock us, that make us laugh, that make us cringe, and that give us funny stories to add to our island collection…

Close Encounters of the Island Cabby Kind

 

“I was once in a safari taxi when the driver pulled into the gas station,
got out, and came back to ask all the passengers to chip in for gas money.
‘This bus doesn’t drive itself, you know!'”
Ginger, somewhere in the Caribbean

“When the subject turned to travel, my cab driver
informed me that he wanted to go to
‘the places where those China people live, like Japan’.
I chuckled as I imagined my Japanese grandmother
officially rolling over in her grave.”
Chrissann, Tortola, BVI

“Our cab driver pulled over and sang Lionel Richie songs to me
and my visiting friend. He had about 20 empty rum bottles in the car,
which seemed to explain it.”
Maura, Virgin Gorda, BVI

"On tour. Chill Out" *cue road rage*

“On tour. Chill Out”
*cue road rage*

‘Normally if I take a cab home, I just get out at the entrance to my neighborhood.
I don’t mind the walk and my neighborhood is all crappy dirt roads so some cab
drivers have trouble. But after going to the grocery store and filling the trunk with bags,
I asked the cabbie to bring me all the way home. Into the neighborhood we went, bumping along turn after turn and he finally said, ‘How much farther is your house?’

‘We’re almost there, don’t worry!’

And with a straight face and his eyes bugging out, my probably 40-something fairly fit cabbie said, ‘Yeah, well I AM worried! We’re so far into the jungle, I’m SCARED!
What if something happens to me on my way back out?
It’s so scary in here… why would a person live in the middle of the jungle?!’

He asked me to repeat the directions (a whole 3 turns)
to him four times before leaving my driveway.
Welcome to the jungle, amigo!
I don’t think he’ll ever offer to drive me home again…”
Amanda W., Roatan, Honduras

“Upon arrival in St. Kitts, I was delighted to see in
a brochure that there were monkeys on the island.
I burst out to my cab driver, ‘You have monkeys here?!’

At the next stop, he turned around and appraised me, then declared
that the monkeys would love me. ‘How can you tell?’ I asked.

‘You have light enough skin. The monkeys hate black people.’

I laughed at the absurdity. Racist monkeys? ‘Why do they hate black people?’

‘Because we catch them, put them in cages, kill them, skin them, eat them.’

Ah. Yup. I suppose that’ll do it…
– Chrissann, St. Kitts

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“A taxi driver and daily customer at the coffee shop I worked at on St. Thomas,
when it became undeniably obvious that my Thomian co-worker
was with child, attempted to confirm his suspicions
by asking her, ‘Ya breed?'”
Ashley, St. John, USVI

“In the same coffee shop, a different taxi driver told me
with a boyish grin on his face, ‘I never wear no rubba,’
after I gasped at the number of children he had
and suggested that he might have planned better.”
– Ashley, St. John, USVI

“My friend and I approached three taxi drivers in town at the taxi stand,
limin’, though still appearing to be on duty. We asked if they could
take us to the West End of the island, one of the options listed
on the price sheet posted behind them.
They looked at each other and laughed in a group uproar.
Not getting the joke, we asked again.
Each responded in a serious tone, ‘We don’t go there. No one goes there.’
– anonymous, somewhere in the Caribbean

A cab driver on my rock who I’ve ridden with on several occasions
was parked in the lot, waiting for his guests.
When I waved and said hello, he squinted his eyes at me
and gave me a long, confused look.

After a long silence,
he finally said, ‘Ohhh, it’s you. You look weird today.’
Perfect. Weird was just the look I was going for…
– Chrissann, Virgin Gorda, BVI

*click for image credit

“When my husband and I returned from celebrating Christmas stateside,
we had trouble finding a cabby that would take us ‘all de way’ to the
north side of St Thomas. When we finally got a ride, our cab driver
was nearly 150 years old. He had probably been driving a cab longer
than I’ve been alive. He didn’t know where Hull Bay Hideaway
was (a pretty popular North-side bar), let alone how to get to our house.
We gave him directions nearly every step of the way. I was trying to be friendly,
so I asked him how his holidays had been. He proceeded to tell us that
Christmas is a lie. Jesus was born in October, and why would shepherds
be out in the snow with their sheep at night?! He also didn’t celebrate
the new year because time passes anyway, so why bother.
We had a pretty quiet ride after that.”
– Sara S., St Thomas, USVI

“I approached a Dominicano gypsy cab with three suitcases,
and in response to my inquiry for a ride, he simply gave me silent eye contact
and a head nod. While remaining in the driver’s seat,
no longer interested in eye contact or offering trunk space,
he reached behind him and opened the rear passenger door.
Not expecting any further assistance, I struggled to fit all three of my suitcases
into the tiny backseat while he smoked,
then wedged myself and carry-on bag in too.”
– anonymous, somewhere in the Caribbean

“When our cab driver heard that we’re from California, he got a starry look
in his eye and started reminiscing about a trip there in his youth. He couldn’t have
cared less about California actually, but acted like a giggly schoolboy
when talking about the time his buddies took him
to a… ahem… ‘burlesque’ show in Tijuana.

‘The girls… they didn’t have on ANY clothes!’ said the grey-haired, middle-aged,
Samoan father-type driver. He cared not one whit about this particular
fully-clad girl in the backseat, but seemed to be looking for
some sort of agreement from my husband.

‘I’ve never been to a strip club,’ my husband wisely stated.

‘You just put dollars on the table there and she will dance for you!
No top!’ the driver continued incredulously.

‘Yes, I have heard that to be the case,’ my husband said robotically.

We changed the subject before the driver could move on to
any ping-pong related anecdotes.
Jessi, American Samoa

“Before I had a car, I was meeting friends out for lunch on the other side
of the island and had to take a cab. The driver asked me where I lived,
and I let him know I was a resident here. Then, as though I was in a scene
from Super Troopers, he proceeded to give me a tour of the island,
making stops at the look-out decks to point out islands to me,
ignoring me every time I begged for the tour to end:
‘I know! I live here! I’ve lived here for years!
I just need to get to the Valley, please!’

At the top of the island, he stopped again to explain why Columbus
had named our island as he did: ‘Columbus looked at this island
from the sky and and he saw the whole island
was the shape of a big fat lady.’

‘Interesting,’ I said. ‘So you’re telling me Columbus
saw this whole island from the sky? Was he in his helicopter at the time?’

Silence. He looked at me for a moment, then got back in the cab.
And just like that, my tour was finally over.
– Chrissann, Virgin Gorda, BVI

*click for image credit

“I was the only passenger in a safari, and the driver told me he had a stop to make.
He drove off the route, parked at someone’s house, and went inside.
I sat and waited until he came back out about a half hour later
and then he just continued along the route,
acting like nothing out of the ordinary had happened!”
– Ginger, somewhere in the Caribbean

Now it’s your turn!
What’s been your craziest/goofiest/most cringe-worthy
encounter with an island cab driver?
Share it in the comments below…

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Chrissann Nickel

About Chrissann Nickel

Chrissann’s home rock in the British Virgin Islands, against all logic, feels bigger to her than it actually is. Though after spending five years on a teensy one acre island, the current 13-mile long rock she’s residing on now IS ginormous, at least by comparison. As with everything in the Caribbean, it’s all about perspective.

Once upon a time she used to care about things like matching her purse to her pumps, but these days, she’s a card-carrying member of the Barefoot Nation. She is utterly enchanted with vinyasa yoga, especially when practiced on somewhat precarious, deliciously Instagram-able surfaces (she's @WomanOnARock) such as paddleboards, boats, cliffs, or even the occasional willing friend’s body. She vehemently believes that toucans are the best animals ever (period.) and there is no convincing her otherwise (though imperious roadside goats come in as a close second).

As the Editor in Chief of this site, she spends a lot of her time working from home all by her lonesome writing, editing, and cultivating content designed to make her fellow islanders laugh. Besides her writerly pursuits, she moonlights as a yoga instructor, and attributes at least a smidge of her insanity to the amount of time she spends talking to drunk people. If you’re somehow still reading this and feel inclined to find out more about this “Chrissann” of which we speak, you can also take a gander at her eponymous personal website, www.chrissannnickel.com

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16 thoughts on “Close Encounters of the Island Cabby Kind

  1. Correct in saying the strongest union on our island is the taxi associations. I work at a cruise ship dock and see first hand how they over charge the passengers. They seem to have no knowledge of the island but continue to “sell” themselves as tour guides. Most all traffic accidents are cause by taxis. Sad to say when we see one “bite the dust” we let out a little cheer..”one less cab on the island YIPPIE!” I would walk before ever getting in a cab!!

  2. Just too funny.. I love the one with the jungle.. How is it that you are a taxi driver and scared of going to places on a small island? Seriously.. 🙂

  3. These are great, and I’m confident true encounters ….No different on our Rock…. We have a fine dining restaurant on the island serving from 11a-9p……We built the place from the ground up and have been the only owners for years. About once a month a guest will tell us the Taxi Drive said I had died and there are new owners now …….. What? ….. And the whole island mourns for me daily….. It makes it hard for me to be too upset, as apparently I’m a popular dead restauranteur …..

  4. After reading these stories, I have one that isn’t funny, but was a blessing. In the early 80’s I’d walk down Crown Mountain every morning to get to my job at a boutique at the Reef on STT. I’d catch a shuttle when I pooped out half way. When I think about it now I can’t believe I had that kind of energy, but I digress. One early morning as I was half way down Crown, a taxi driver slowed by me me and asked, “Ya wan ride?”
    “Thanks, but no,” I replied, “I can’t afford a taxi.”
    “I don ask if you wan taxi, meh ask if you wan ride?” He said with a big grin. I returned the smile, as he reached over and opened the front passenger door for me to get in. That sweet old guy took me all the way to Yacht Haven. He said he had to go there anyway. He got me half way to my job. Getting to the Reef was still a long way to go but I had plenty of time because I always left home 2 hours early to get there! I wonder if things have changed so much through the years that people would be afraid now to take a free ride, or maybe no one would offer. When I finally got a car, I stopped for people too.
    The old days. Memories. I love women who live on rocks!!

  5. all so true!!we might say the same about car rentals. My friend and I rented a car on Tortola last year as a treat instead of walking all over the rock.( of course, this was one of these “I know a car rental place no one knows about” kind of car rental places that tourists from outside the BVI would never know about). The rearview mirror fell off a minute after we left the rental office, narrowly missing mutilating or dismembering our various body parts. When we rented the car three weeks later, we got the same car, the same mirror and it fell off in the same time frame…..what do you think will happen this year?If you see me missing my head, you will know….

  6. HaHa! About eight years ago there on your island, Chrissann, a cab driver who shall remain nameless (except to say that his name is a color, and rhymes with Clue), put in a porn DVD as he drove me from the VG airport to Gun Creek, where I was meeting my hubby. I run the other way every time I see him now; except last year when I had a rental car and he crossed the road right in front of me and it took everything I had to resist my urge to floor the gas pedal and accidentally smush him.

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