Monday, January 18, 2010



This is a must in Chilango slang because you will end up using it a lot. It literally means taxi driver. As any other congested and hectic city, DF has many thousands of taxis, and there is a whole aura around the life of cab drivers. Something that stands out of Mexico City cabs is that a lot of them are VW Beetles or vochos. They are customized to ease entry and exit by having the front passenger seat removed while you sit at the back seat. Given the small size of the Beetle you can easily chat with the ruletero.

Part of the aura of ruleteros is that they are like Forrest Gump's box of choclates: "you never know what you gonna get." They could be medical doctors or lawyers that for one reason pr another decided to earn a living as ruleteros. Conversations with these guys can be amusing, as they will probably talk about how they ended up there. Other ruleteros are the more common street-philosopher type. Still, politics, traffic and panbol are great conversation topics. Check the example from the post dar en la torre o madre, where the ruletero is providing some deep insights to the passenger.

The word on the street is that some taximeters are tampered. So you should better have a good estimate of the cost of your ride. Otherwise you're at risk of being scammed. One has to be trucha or savvy.

Chafirete (cha-fee-REH-teh) is another word for ruletero and derives from the word chofer (lit. chauffeur). The word ruletero became a classic reference after Perez Prado's "Mambo del Ruletero." Check the video bellow from a movie of the 1950's.

Beware that sometimes hailing cabs on the street may not be safest for foreigners, or even provincianos.

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