In the world of hydrogen buses and electric trolleys, flying drones, amphibians, electric and hybrid, with hundreds of horsepower, 40 kilometers from Bucharest, in Calarasi county, there is a an eco taxi with one horsepower: a cart.
Ştefan Tanase, known by the locals as ‘nea Tetea’, drives one of the few, if not the last wagon taxi in Romania. Tanned by the scorching sun of Romania during the summer, friendly, smiling and very energetic for his age, he drives a vehicle built with a sense of responsibility, from solid boards, with plates inscribed “Tetea Taxi” on the side, drawn by a powerful horse called Lili.
He was a mason from since he remembers, but at some point every work opportunity in the area simply vanished. At that time, he was 47 years old, from a very poor Roma family and with little to nothing to provide for his family. Yet, with limited means, Stefan Tanase found a niche: he had a horse and he thought ‘We have a lot of fairs in this region. There must be people in need of transport’ – his entrepreneurial spirit said to himself.
He didn’t spend another thought on it, he had to try it, so he simply seized the moment, freeze it and own it. Six days later, after he build a strong carriage, he was on the roads. Now, at 67, he’s still there and, in spite doing this in the rural area, where he takes bags of vegetables or animals for transportation, he’s always well dressed for work: shoes, pants, chemise.
The man helps the world to transport furniture, because in the villages of the county there are several workshops along the main road, bags with agricultural products, animals, firewood or any other goods that a taxi-car would not accept to do it because they would dirty their interior, the distance traveled would be too short and the amount collected, too small.
His horse, Lili, is his ‘business partner’. Sometimes he’s to tired of doing it, sometimes the horse is. Whenever one of them needs a rest, they’re taking it and the delivery orders are being kept in a book. We visited him at his home, but he asked us not to do any pictures, and we could tell how good treatment Lili has.
He has a taxi, but he never had a driving license
“The world knows me in Budesti as Tetea. I’ve been taxiing for over 20 years. Before I was a mason, but this is my life now. There have been times when I have had problems with the Police, but most of the cops know that I am a poor and honest man and I try to earn my money through work. I go out especially on weekends, on fair days, and sometimes stay on the street from 8 in the morning to 7 in the evening. Some days I do not go out, when I am too bad for an inguinal hernia that I have for many years and I have not been able to solve it with surgery. I don’t have a driver license and I don’t think I’ll ever have one. From what I know, it is the only such taxi in this area of the country, maybe in Romania. There are even fewer horses and carts, because many have chosen to buy these cheaper cars, no longer know or no longer want to grow and take care of horses and carts, ” says Tanase .
‘Nea Tetea’ explains how the agreements are conducted: “I don’t ask people for money like a taxi car does, I let them offer me something if I help them or we sometimes do a barter. I have a cell phone and I write the number to people on a piece of paper so they know how to contact me if there is no one to help them. That’s what I’m good at doing, that’s what I’m going to do further, probably for the rest of my life”, says the old man from Calarasi.
Business owners in the area know him and all of them have his number. He’s a great help for them too, because many would not buy if there was no possibility for transport. Also, the elders in the region trust him so much that they place orders and give him money for home delivery from the market or fairs.