To Drive or NOT To Drive

“To drive” in Portuguese is “dirigir.” But this phrase does not come close to describing the mechanics behind the Brazilian people and their cars.

Driving in Brazil, specifically in Sao Paulo, requires much, much more skill and instruction than what I was taught in my high school driver’s education class (which I failed, by the way).  You almost need a sixth sense, a higher level of awareness of your surroundings, to fold yourself into the system. Similar to bats flying blind through the night, my theory is that Brazilians are born with radar that sends signals to the brain to anticipate and react to a potential metal-on-metal collision.

Like watching a herd of buffalo charging across a prairie, you can’t imagine that the beasts will avoid crashing into each other amidst the chaos of the stampede. But somehow instincts kick in and it all works out.

I am acutely aware of the skills I possess, and the ones I do not. My toolbox of talents does not include those needed to drive in this country. Throw in steep hills pulled straight from my nightmares and torrential rainstorms, and I pull out the white flag of surrender. Yesterday I watched a car attempt to make a turn up a hill, while the forces of nature – gravity and the flood of rain water coming down the slope – worked against it, and I literally had chest pains.

The roads are also safer without me behind the wheel. Having lived in Southern California, I can be as aggressive a driver as any resident of Los Angeles.  However aggression, although necessary, isn’t what keeps the system going. Panic overcomes me (as well as anger) when others don’t follow the rules, and since in this case the rules are an illusion, I can’t imagine the accidents I would cause. So it’s best if I just stay off the road.

You are welcome Sao Paulo.


Gallery | This entry was posted in Daily Escapades, Expatriate Info & Advice, Foreigner Insights, Living in Sao Paulo and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to To Drive or NOT To Drive

  1. Fly Brother says:

    Ha! I just posted about how I’m recusing myself from the paulistano hamster maze as well. Love the city, absolutely hate how they drive here. And I’ve had my share of near-misses. They can take my keys…I’m done!

    • Congratulations on being brave enough to try! I’ve yet to get behind the wheel, and I usually sit in the back seat to avoid having a heart attack. I’ve heard that there is even a specific school to teach expats how to drive in Brazil…
      Thanks for your comment.

  2. Jenna says:

    The only thing I can say is the way they drive is ignorant and they lack any understanding that human life is actually worth something. Which = lack of education.

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