Anyhow, back in 2007, my car that my grandmother had sold me for $1 finally died. It was a 1992 Cavalier and I loved that car. I still would be driving it if it was in working condition. Too bad I sold it off to a guy who was into demolition derby and I'm sure its in millions of pieces now. My mother then helped me out by buying a car that only lasted another year (mainly because I was an idiot and drove too fast in the crazy heat for too long of a period of time without checking the engine coolant or oil levels--I don't need to elaborate on the fate of said car.) I then decided to be eco-friendly and get around by bike, bus and my beautiful friends who had automobiles. Also, it is important to point out that these cars were both automatic. Which leads me to my big huge problem having moved to Brazil.
I can't drive a freaking stick.
This is essential because automatic cars are extremely expensive here. I'm so sick and tired of hearing, "It's SOOOO easy!" "Come on Becky! It's simple!" It's not. It's not because I am terrified of the car dying, meaning my feet start to shake so bad that I can't figure out if I'm on the clutch, the break or the gas or on a pedal at all. My first solo experience led me to sliding backwards into a ditch and being pushed out by a few guys that I had swear they wouldn't tell ANYONE what had happened (luckily H didn't see and still doesn't know about that one... SHhhhhhhhhhh!) so you can imagine that didn't help me at all with dealing with this fear and frustration.
After having many people who I love and care about (my husband, my brother in law, my husband's cousin's wife to name a few...) I decided to finally enroll in auto school. I'm just paying for two lessons at two hours each. We'll see how it goes. My plan is to drive drive drive until I get rid of my fear. I can change gears with no problem at all, I just 1) am terrified I'm going to hit the gas when I want the break 2) the car is going to die and 3) I'm going to put the car into the wrong gear and it's going to breakdown. I think 4 hours of straight driving with an instructor who I am not related to is going to be the best. Also, the fact the car isn't ours is going to help a lot, too, since I know I'm not going to destroy an investment that we had made.
I'm also terrified of driving because of the insane amount of traffic. Ji-Paraná may be a small town but every single semi that comes from south or north of us comes barreling right through our town. One block from my house. In addition, Ji-Paraná is the city with the most motorcycles per capita than any other city in Brazil and I am guessing that about 70% of them are uninsured, unlicensed drivers. This causes for a ton of headache for me because since I am a good law-abiding American I believe everyone should just freaking follow the rules. BUT when getting a driver's licence costs about R$1000 (or two months of minimum wage salary here) and takes 3 months of classes every day AND legally maintaining a vehicle incurs the yearly IPVA tax (which for our car was R$1000 this year) it makes sense that most people drive completely illegally.
|IPVA=Tax for Politicians to Travel by Plane|
Finally, as one of my professors and thesis advisors, Marshall Eakin says in his book, Brazil: The Once and Future Country, Brazilians are such big fans of Formula One, not just because of the famous Ayrton Senna, but because they simply think that all roads are Formula One race tracks. Lines mean nothing, stop lights mean nothing, speed limits (even when posted, when I have only seen one actual speed limit sign here in the city so far) mean nothing and of course, driving defensively simply doesn't even pass through the minds of the majority of the people here. It's all about driving offensively and I'm the most defensive driver in the world.
So, wish me luck. Hopefully by next week I'll be able to listen to the following tune while I'm blazing down BR-364 in 5th gear.
Oh wait, I won't be able to go past 3rd gear because of all the stupid pot holes.