Yes, it is true. Some of you may recall that I have spent the past three-and-a-half years avoiding driving in Brazil at all costs. I even let my New York driver’s license expire, rendering it impossible for me to legally get behind the wheel here, unless I went through the lengthy process of taking driving classes and tests in Portuguese.
But recently I decided not to be such a candy-ass. When we traveled back to the U.S. for the holidays, I got a new drivers license and a “Inter-American” driver’s permit (US $15 at the local AAA). And I have been surviving the streets of São Paulo so far. I’ve even driven from SP to Rio!
Sure, I scraped the front of our brand new car a bit backing out of a packed place. (FYI – I was convinced that buying a new car in Brazil was a financial unsound decision, but I’ve warmed up to it a bit now that I am doing the driving.) Yes, I was thrown into a few moments of panic when I noticed I was driving in a lane with a big, thick, red line surrounding it, only to realize that it was a space used for solely for bikers on Sundays… and it wasn’t Sunday.
Next step is to get an official Brazilian drivers license, mostly so that my husband can transfer all the points stacking up from his driving infringements to me. This is possible, I guess, because you will rarely get “pulled over” in Brazil, but they take little pictures of your license plate as you roll, or speed, by. So they never really know who is doing the driving damage. The official drivers license will require me only to pass a psychological test that involves drawing lines. This is something I’m excited to do, simply for the bizarre experience I’ve been hearing about.