Mario Duran for FT Weekend Magazine

08 January, 2013

In November Nick traveled back to Bolivia, and in La Paz took some photographs of a very interesting taxi driver for FT Weekend Magazine.

Mario Duran is not your usual taxi driver. The 65 year old Bolivian likes to play a general knowledge game with his passengers. In this issue of the FT we find out how Mario offers the chance for his passengers to lower the price of their fare.

‘I tell them they can test me first on any of the world’s countries - capitals, per capita income, surface area, population.. anything. I give them the atlas or an almanac so they can check my answers.’ For every question Mario gets wrong the fare goes down by $b1 (9p), but if he still gets all the answers right he will still give you a 50 cent coin to keep as a token.

Mario didn’t finish college and now his mission is to challenge himself and learn as much as he can, ‘I check my progress by timing myself down to the second. In one minute I can recite 105 pieces of information. My record in one hour is 2,319.’ But by gambling with his fare price, he is now finding himself in a bit of financial difficulties.
So why does he keep driving? ‘Because my passengers always leave happy - Many of them say its the best taxi ride they’ve ever had.’

Thanks to Mario and Amaru Villanueva Rance for doing the interviewing. You can see the full story here www.ft.com

- AH

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