23 April 2012

How to Barter for Cab Fare in Paraguay (translated & paraphrased)

As demonstrated by an actual Paraguayan!

Setting: 6:00 pm on an ordinary, early autumn Thursday

[Slowly but purposefully approach the driver of the only cab in town.  Politely accept a sip of his terere and casually exchange pleasantries in Guarani.  Discuss the weather for a minute or two.  It’s unseasonably cold today, no?]

Cabbie – So, where are you headed?

You – Santa Elena. (i.e.; village 10+ km away inaccessible at this hour by any other means save for walking)

Cabbie – 60.000 Gs.

You – 60?? (For extra effect, add lengthy, high-pitched whistle implying how unreasonably pricey that seems)

Cabbie – Yes, 60.

You –
[A good half-minute of uncomfortable silence in which the cabbie stares at you intently while you pretend to think of other transportation options - of which absolutely none exist)

Cabbie – Santa Elena, you said?

You – Yes.

Cabbie – 50 then.

You –
[More prolonged silence during which you shamelessly search your surroundings to ensure that there are, in fact, no other taxis in town right now.  Of course this is the case and you’re both well aware of it.]
[Strain your face to show optimal distress and helplessness.  Be sure not to say anything.  It seems at this point that awkward silence is your strongest – and evidently only – bartering tool.]

Cabbie – How about 40?

You – [casually wait a few beats to conceal just how unbelievably successful that entire exchange was] Yeah, 40 works.

And there you have it, folks.  With just two words, one whistle and a couple minutes of uncomfortable silence, you can reduce your cab fare by up to 33% despite having absolutely no leverage whatsoever.  Tell your friends!  Guaranteed to work in any socially passive and indirect culture!


  1. So 40 equals what in US dollars??? And WTG w.your bartering. In China we were told to barter and at first it was really uncomfortable b/c it's unheard of here. Soon i became a, nope not paying it pro!!! So nice to hear from you the other day. So happy to hear you are so happy! Hope your new village is just as good as your host family and that you are fitting right in!!
    Miss you!
    Auntie M

    1. I didn´t actually do the bartering, a Paraguayan I was with demonstrated how. Not sure I´m quite ready to try it on my own...

      Great to talk to you recently too!

  2. ...

    How about you tell me more about Paraguay?


    1. Luf - The country as a whole has never heard of Avril Lavigne or James Mercer. As a result, you´d probably find the overall experience pretty medium.

      Is that enough for now or would you like more?

    2. This comment is fantastic. It's brief, it's witty, it's condescending, it elucidates its own musical taste, and it even uses the word "medium" in an unconventional yet completely understandable sense.

      Pitchfork is proud to award it a 6 out of 10.