Holy Cow!

SANTIAGO, Chile — Hoping to get out of the sprinkling rain and into our warm beds (well, at least as warm as possible in a country where few homes have central heating), two friends and I hailed a cab to take us home from the restaurant where we had been celebrating a birthday.

One of them pulled open the door, and the three of us hopped into the cab. As I waited for my turn to say, “Francisco de Aguirre y Luis Carrera, cerca del Club de Polo”—the directions to my host family’s house that I have given dozens of times since my arrival in Santiago—I started to notice that my surroundings were a little…unusual.

All the seats, the ceiling, the dashboard, the steering wheel, even the doors were completely covered in fabric—cow fabric. Everywhere I looked, white cloth with black spots. Oh my.

It was clear that I was not the only one blown away by the fact that we were in a “Cow Cab.” My friends were equally astonished by our surreal surroundings and we laughed harder and harder as we noticed the cow stuffed animals lining the dashboard and the blue light on the ceiling that made the cow fabric glow.

Then it happened. “MOOOOOOO!” The taxi mooed.

We lost it.

“Do you like cows?” my fellow passenger asked the driver, his words broken up by laughter. According to the cabbie, it was not so much a penchant for the four-legged animal that drove him to convert his taxi into a bovine on wheels, but a yearning for his rural hometown and life away from the bustling streets of Santiago. Supposedly having a cow taxi reminds him of the countryside.

Reflecting on the experience over Gchat the next morning, my friend and I talked about how the TaxiVaca (or “Cow Cab”) reminded us of the popular Discovery Channel show “Cash Cab.” I laughed at her suggestion that the TaxiVaca should require passengers to moo the answers to trivia questions in Spanish. We would have lost horribly.

The last of the three to get dropped off that evening, I paid the driver and stepped out onto my driveway. I had barely closed the door when the nighttime quiet of my residential street was pierced by a final “MOOOOO!” as the Cow Cab bid me adieu.

If I had to choose, I might take the TaxiVaca over winning $500 on the streets of Manhattan.

Lauren D. Kiel ’11, a Crimson news writer, is a History and Literature concentrator in Adams House.