Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Brazilian Streets are Redeemed by Brazilian Beaches

So you guys may remember Melissa. She's a great Brazilian friend. She introduced me to the monkey park, Festa Junina, and tropical fruit popsicles. Well, Melissa, her husband, and their baby are taking advantage of her parents' timeshare in a beachfront property on a nearby beach for the week, and invited us to come hang out with them.

You can imagine how productive I've been.

The first day I went to visit, Alexandre had to work, so I braved the route myself. It included a ferry and unpaved roads.

Can I just use this moment to complain a bit about how much I can't STAND driving to new places in Brazilian cities?!?!

First. People just can't give directions. All right. I know part of this is the language barrier. But I try REALLY, REALLY hard to ask a lot of yes/no questions to make sure I understood correctly. ("So when I get to the overpass, I GO UNDER IT, correct?" "Let me confirm-- I turn left on the first street AFTER the bakery?") But it never fails. I get lost every.single.time. I go to a new place. I later discover that the directions didn't make sense. People told me to turn left at places where I couldn't turn left. People told me to get onto a bridge instead of turning right after the bridge. Things like that. When I finally got to Melissa's place, she said, "Why didn't you just ask people for directions?" That seems to be the Brazilian way. You can't trust the first, second, third, or fourth person who tells you. But lucky #5 will probably get it right. Either that, or it's best out of 7.
Second. Google Maps is way too nice to Brazil. Google Maps leaves out things like endless one-way street loops or roads blocked by trash or canals. 

Third. Brazilian street names are ridiculous. I think this is actually a Latin American plague, because I remember it in Mexico, too. The primary purpose of street names is not to honor dead mayors. It's to help people orient themselves in a place. Therefore, it is not productive to make every single street name at least 4 words. Things like Jose Cavalo de Silva Mattos Jr. or Dr. Fernando Carlos da Luanoauanra. It is also especially ineffective if 3 streets in a row all start with the name "Mario," or when a street changes its name 3 times within a 2-mile stretch.

Fourth. These street names are moot, because there are almost never street signs. Seriously. I got totally lost going to Melissa's place, and one reason was because I drove about 7 blocks without seeing a single street sign. This technology is not advanced. I would argue that it's less advanced than stop lights. Sometimes, if you do get a street sign, it's faded or broken or turned the wrong way.

Fifth. There are almost no helpful signs. I was under the impression that these beach cities are popular tourist destinations. You'd think the city would want to encourage this tourism by making it easier for the tourists to get around. This would require simple technology such as a sign that said "FERRY --->;" on the street where you're supposed to turn for the ferry. (To be fair to these beach towns, some of these signs exist. They're just retarded. For example, there will be a sign that says something like "Beaches --->," but when you turn, you soon reach a fork in the road, and there are no more signs to guide you. 

Sixth. General Transport Bedlam. Examples include intersections with no stop signs or stop lights, mountains blocking roads, lanes that disappear, and lawless roundabouts. 


Anyway anyway. As you can see, driving is a pain in the g.d. ass. I often call Alexandre and have him check Google maps for me to figure out where I am, but first he has to let me go on a diatribe about my newly discovered definitions of "the third world" (see above). 

Well. I finally made my way to Melissa's place and back (after an equally laborious adventure to get home). The first day I went, I got there kind of late (see reasons above), so we just walked along the beach with the baby, ate dinner in her hotel, and caught up.

Alexandre had a day off today, so we went back together. We got up early and drove to visit them at the beach. I had a caipirinha before 10am. The beach was gorgeous and pristine. The view was perfectly tropically perfect. There were giant sea turtles in the water! They're actually kind of scary, but awesome from a little farther away. The baby was happy. The company was worth the effort it took to get to them. :)
THE BOYS: Alexandre, the baby, and his dad (in case you can't tell). Cutest little face!

Melissa and Me :) Happy as clams (or giant sea turtles, which seemed pretty happy)

I'm gonna get back to work tomorrow. I SWEAR.


  1. I hate getting lost too, I finally bought a GPS and solved that problem.
    Are GPSs helpful in Brazil?
    I guess if the street signs are absent that would make it hard even with the GPS... :(
    Yes, they should definitely beef up the street signs in beach/tourist cities...!
    It sounds cool that you have such beautiful pristine clear beaches nearby!! :)

  2. So... #3 made me giggle. I don't remember you complaining about Bob Hope Dr., Frank Sinatra Dr., Dinah Shore Dr., and all those other dead people! :P

  3. That's my BFF! Look at those cute tan lines on his arms! :D

  4. Oh the coincidence! http://www.good.is/post/i-just-made-a-new-road-on-google-maps-you-can-too/

  5. @Michelle: Bob Hope is 2 words, 7 letters. My street, for example, is 4 words, 20 letters. The names can be within reason! :(

    @Jamie: I wouldn't know where to start.

  6. Hehe Alexandre really does look like Tulio from RIO in that first pic. You'd make a cute Linda, too. Woohoo beach time!

  7. Hahahaha! Agreed! It's all true: Brazilians can't give directions to save their lives, street names are ridiculous and signs are confusing. Welcome... and good luck!

  8. Just catching up on reading because I went on a trip. And had this very experience. Every time we asked for directions, it didn't help. I've decided that Google maps is a made by Americans, assuming American standards. I'm working up the gumption to write a post on our experience...coming soon!

  9. You HAVE to buy an Iphone. It has GPS and it's the absolute only way I'm able to orient myself anywhere. Regardless of street signs, at least you can see if a street exits or just continues forever!


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