Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Learning to drive in Sao Paulo

I swear this is what some Brazilians dress up in before
they get in their cars and drive on the Marginal...

I've had a few of these self-realisations in my life, like "Oh my god, I'm a mother".... and the most recent one was sitting in a car and saying to myself "Oh my god, I'm a driver"! I've always been in awe of people who can drive (and ride bikes.. I'm a city girl ok!). I learnt to drive when we lived in London a few years ago but I was never very confident. We had a Gulf GTI Mark 1 which was previously owned by my husband's father so it had alot of sentimental value, and he did not want me to drive it once I passed my test (it only took 3 times). This was until I was pregnant and he realised he had a sober driver from the pub every night. He would always comment on the drive home that he would still be a better driver drunk than me sober - I would've had to agree with him.

So I've put off driving here for a long time. We've lived in areas (Moema, Vila Madalena, Jardins) that I could walk to restaurants, supermarkets, parks etc but now that I have 2 children (a buggy, let alone a double buggy, is impossible on the pavements here) and we live in Butanta, and my husband is about to start travelling every month, I have finally caved into driving. 

I was recommended a teacher Vavá*  - if I was going to drive in Brazil, I needed to learn to drive like a Brazilian. I booked in 10 sessions with him - each session being 50 minutes, and I did 2 at a time. 10 sessions cost me R500 (if you paid per lesson it would be R100) and did my 5 sessions in less than 2 weeks. He wasn't the most attentive instructor (he talked on the phone alot, read the newspaper, and we went via Faria Lima so he could deliver some easter eggs...) but for the price I'm not complaining. If you need someone to sit in the car with you just so you can work out how to drive on the otherside of the road and car, he did the job. I'm still beyond people that can smoke, do their makeup and sing loudly all at the same time as driving. I've managed so far not to have an accident by never changing lanes (how fast do those motoboys go!!), estacionamentos are my new best friends, and I never signal (no one cares or will ever let you in). 

With regards to a driver's license, I've been told (and I know there are various versions of this...) that we can drive on our International Driver's License, which we picked up at the post office in London, until we've been here for 6 months on our current visa. But because we are in the process of our permanent visa**, once that is approved we have another 6 months to change over to the Brazilian driving license. If you need to check your particular situation I would highly recommend checking in with the agent we use, Renata on renata@renatalaterza.com.br.  

If you are looking for more information check out Angloinfo.

Vavá's numbers are 2924-4950, 9721 4950
** The guy from the Ministry stopped by yesterday to see that we did live here and said that our visas would be published in the Diario Oficial da Uniao once it's been approved. It will take 2- 9 months - nothing like a little bit of accuracy!

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