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My singing taxi driver

I take a lot more taxis around Mexico City than I ever did in DC, and each taxi trip here begets the question of “to chat or not to chat”. (And by extension, “to practice my Spanish or not”) You can pretty much tell as soon as you get in whether the taxi driver is going to be the chatty/friendly type or not, but sometimes one misgauges.

For instance, Friday morning I hopped in my cab to work and the first few minutes were pretty quiet, save for the standard commentary about the weather (cold). I was a little sleepy, and hence hoping for a silent ride that would allow me to do my trademarked “head bobbing in-and-out of consciousness”. But then we exchanged a few more pleasantries regarding how long I’d been living in Mexico, what did I think of it, whether I liked the music, whether I liked mariachi music specifically. It all seemed innocent enough, but little did I know that my elderly taxi driver had a master plan.

After confirming that yes, I like mariachi music, he informed me that he happened to have a tape AT THIS VERY MOMENT in his car with this type of music, with a song that talks about a muchacha bonita (pretty girl), and conveniently, it even has him singing! Now I wasn’t so sure that I followed that last part correctly in Spanish, but I was entertained and so heartily consented to the tape being played. It was all cued up right at the start of “Muchacha Bonita” (in fact the name of the song). As I listened carefully to what seemed to be a rather poorly mastered tape, I realized that I was hearing the song w/its standard lyrics PLUS my taxi driver’s warbly-but-on-pitch voice dubbed over it. Classic.

I was then treated to three additional songs, each a bit more advanced in that the normal singer was completely replaced with my taxi driver singing. For these, I was also treated to him singing along in the taxi! The only time this concerned me were the occasional instances where he seemed to be so into the song that his eyes appeared to close as he looked towards the heavens to belt out his tunes. (Luckily, this usually coincided with us being stopped at traffic lights.)  He paused between a couple of the songs to inform me that he was not a professional singer, but he just really enjoyed singing. :) During another lull, I inquired how he made these tapes. Apparently he owns a special dual tape deck with a microphone which allows him to create these works of magic in his very home. I was duly impressed with his resourcefulness and dedication to his craft.

Finally, the time came to part ways as we reached our final destination– my office. To his additional credit as a taxi driver, he was one of the few cabbies I’ve ridden with who knew the correct route to end up directly in front of my office door (due to some trickiness with ‘no left turns allowed’ on the major street I work on). He inquired my name & assured me what a pleasure it was to have me in his taxi this morning. I responded with a “¿Como se llama?” as well, and he turned around, introduced himself as Salvador and shook my hand, informing me he was at my service. I must say, it is hard to have too bad of a day when it starts off with a private vocal performance & unabashed flattery.

I close with the lyrics from my first taxi cab serenade, along with my loose translation:

Muchacha bonita, bonita bonita  
con todas las fuerzas que tengo en el alma
con toda mi vida te voy a adorar.
        Pretty girl, pretty pretty
        with all the forces that I have in my soul
        with all my life I’m going to adore you.

Muchacha bonita, bonita bonita
en todas las noches que duerma
te juro que siempre te voy a soñar.
        Pretty girl, pretty pretty
        in all the nights that I sleep
        I swear to you that always I’m going to dream of you.

Te quiero y me quieres
te extraño y me extrañas
y sé que cuando andas solita
le pides al cielo volverme a mirar.
I love you and you love me
        I surprise you and you surprise me
        and I know that when you want alone
        you ask to the sky to return me to watch.  


Por eso te quiero
muchacha bonita
por eso ante Dios
te prometo que nunca
te voy a olvidar
         For this, I love you
         pretty girl
         For this, before God
         I promise you that never
         will I forget you. 


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  1. Kim says:

    Jules – was it that special that you memorized the lyrics after only once “concert”? If so, i’m impressed. Though the cynic in my thinks perhaps you did a lyric search online. Either way, did you get Salvatore’s digits? He could be your personal driver from now on!

  2. Julie says:

    Ha. Ok, fine fine, you win; I only memorized “Muchacha bonita, bonita bonita”. But let the record show I did try to translate on my own!! And unfortunately for Salvador, I already kind of have a personal driver named Carlos whose car is cleaner & doesn’t smell like it has recently been doused with air freshener…. 😉

  3. Kim says:

    Apparently in my version of the story Salvador turns into an Italian named Salvatore! I think I need to work on my cultural competence…

  4. laquestion says:

    scincerement j ai beaucouuuup aimer ce blog et j aime votre facon de voir les choses :)))

  5. dodo says:

    beautiful blog merciiiii

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