A Day in the Life of a Tuc Tuc Taxi Driver in Antigua Guatemala

Foundry Project: A Day in the Life of a Tuc Tuc Taxi Driver in Antigua Guatemala by Vera Narvaez-Lanuza

Here’s the first photojournalistic project of the Foundry Photo Workshop I am sharing with you. As soon as I get other projects I will share them here. Stay tuned!


Don Juan José Cos drives a silver tuc tuc numbered 30. He lives 3 kms from the city of La Antigua Guatemala, in a town called Jocotenango, which is accessed from Antigua Guatemala by la Calle Ancha or the wide street. Don José is married to Felipa and together have 4 children, Pamela who is 20 years old, Erick 18, Gladys 17 and Sofia 15 years old. With a great kindness and passion for conversations he talked about his experience as tuctuquero, his daily schedule, the most significant issues working with a tuc tuc and about his personal life.

His day starts at 6AM, where he gets ready to go to work. About 6:30 in the morning he meticulously checks the tuc tuc’s oil levels, brake fluid and cleans the tuc tuc from inside and out. He begins his the tuc tuc runs at 6:45AM starting in Jocotenango where he is ready to pick up passengers with great enthusiasm that characterizes him.

His routes are basically around the cities of La Antigua Guatemala and Jocotenango. He is not allowed to run in other towns unless he drops off a passenger. He takes students to school from 7AM and then he drives around hospitals, clinics and offices, looking for potential passengers. In the morning he takes people from Jocotenango to the towns near by, especially to Antigua Guatemala and in the afternoon he takes them back to their town. About 9am he stops behind the market to read newspaper for 15 minutes. He said that it was the only place where he could stop and park the tuk tuk along the street since it is prohibited in the center of La Antigua due to its rotary nature as regulated by the municipality otherwise he could be charged a fine of 500 quetzals. He added that tuk tuk moto taxis are not allowed to trespass the main square of Antigua Guatemala for about two blocks around the square, that explains why we could not catch a tuk tuk taxi around cathedral.

After catching up with the most relevant news he goes back to the streets in the search for more passengers. He must collect at least 250 quetzals per day. He drives again through the wide street Calle Ancha back to Jocotenango and about 10AM he stops for late breakfast or morning snack called “Refacción” where he is well known by the street food vendors. After breakfast at the park he is available again to take passengers to their destinations. He waits for his girlfriend’s call for lunch around 2PM and he has lunch with all his children and then takes a rest while Erick, his son, takes the tuc tuc to earn some quetzals for his college expenses. Erick returns home and Don Jose grabs his tuc tuc around 4pm and goes back to Antigua to pick up passengers who have finished their working day. He must finish working before 10PM, time for all tuk tuk moto taxis to leave the city and not been seen otherwise they could be charged 500 quetzals.

Don José leaves La Antigua Guatemala 10 minutes before 10PM. His working day has just finished now and it is time to pick up his daughters at the Instituto and return home. After a hard working day, he sits in his couch turns on the TV and search for the local news channel. Doña Felipa, his girlfriend, serves dinner and together along with all his children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews enjoy a lovely evening full of joy, jokes and laughs. He finally gets to rest to get ready for the next day where he grabs his silver tuk tuk taxi number 30 to deliver passengers safely to their destinations.

Text and images by Vera Narvaez Lanuza, Nicaragua

© 2014 – 2020, Rudy Giron. All rights reserved.

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