Brazil 101 – Driving + Tolls

Get your change ready! If you’re planning to rent a car in Brazil and drive outside of whatever major city you’re arriving at, then it’s a good idea to have money on you. And I know I said change, but depending on how far away you’re going and if you’re coming back the same way, you might actually need some serious cash. When we go into the interior of São Paulo to visit my grandparents (about 564.7 km) we spend about R$212 (~US$56) round trip in tolls.

However, if you’re just going from the airport in São Paulo to Sumaré it’s not that bad. You will pay ~R$20 (US$5) and then the same on the way back. So just make sure you’ve got cash on you, don’t be surprised when you see the toll booths and stick to the middle lanes (usually, the far right, sometimes the far left, lanes are reserved for people with automatic toll payments. I checked. Not worth it if you’re just visiting.)

Signs saying toll booth is 1km away. The lane on the right is for electronic toll collection (not you).

Another thing to keep in mind about driving in Brazil is your speed. You, of course, would never speed, right? But just in case you sometimes do, be aware that there are three types of speed limit enforcements to watch for: fixed radars, mobile radars, and handheld radars.

All of these are common on highways. You will normally be able to spot a fixed radar, and know they will be there every time. Mobile ones are sometimes more tricky to spot, mounted on a tripod, and handheld radars involve actual police waiting in their cars.

A fixed radar will normally look like this:

But it can also be on one of these:

These are just friendly reminders. What will happen if you get caught speeding is….well, you’ll get a speeding ticket.

A few useful reminders:

  • You cannot turn right at a red stoplight.
  • Speed signs are in kilometers.
  • Should you ever need it, there are emergency phones on the side of just about every private (tolled) highway. They’re located every 1km.
  • In big cities, watch out for motorcycles. Pay attention. They drive through, around, and weave in between traffic. Just be aware of them.
  • Let’s say you’re driving past 10pm and a stoplight turns red. If you see it while a ways away and it’s possible, slow down. Even if you’re going just 20km/hr. Slow down so by the time you reach the stoplight, it’s turned green and you can avoid stopping.
  • Gas stations/convenience stations off the highway are often a little town of their own. There are restaurants and boutiques within the main buildings. The actual station store will often boast local and artisan sweets, leather goods, just an eclectic array of goods in general. Take the chance to visit one. Common ones in São Paulo are Graal, and Frango Assado.

I hope these have been helpful and that you have a safe and enjoyable drive in Brazil. Any questions I didn’t address? Drop a comment below!

Camping in Jasper, Alberta

This summer has been such a weird summer in terms of weather and very busy in terms of work. Our hikes have been day trips and few. There’s just been so much to do before we leave for a work trip/holiday to Brazil in September, that enjoying summer has been pushed down on my list.

Which is why I am extra grateful that in early January, as soon as registrations opened, Vini and I planned our summer camping trip. We booked a spot in Jasper, Alberta, reserved a van, and before we knew it it was time to pack up and go.

We threw our tent, lots of tarp and rope, Lacey’s things and our hiking shoes in the van and left work behind.

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Brazil 101 – Bathroom Etiquette + Data Coverage

The TL;DR version: Don’t throw toilet paper in the toilet.

You’re a guest at a new friend’s house in Brazil. You’re having a good time. Everyone is having a good time. Nature calls. You ask, and they show you where the bathroom is. You flush. And then it happens. No. Oh, no. The toilet has clogged, the water is rising, the lock on the door is sticking. No, oh, noooooooo!!!!

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Brazil 101 – Culture + Food

It’s a touchy subject…

It’s well-known that Latino culture is warm, vivacious, and hospitable. Brazilians are no different. This becomes evident in a myriad of situations. It means personal space is much tighter than in North America, sometimes non-existent, sometimes personal space bubbles overlap. It means niceness is politeness and not flirtation. It means greetings with a kiss to the cheek, regardless of gender, especially among the younger generation. It means friendly touches are just that, friendly.

Don’t read into light touches, warm hugs, and friendly attention. This may be nothing more than polite attentiveness. Obviously, there are boundaries. Anything that makes you uncomfortable, make it known. Be polite, but firm.

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Brazil 101 – Language + Geography

Every once in a while, in an airport here or there, I am reminded of a few things people might not know about Brazil, or about our language or culture. I don’t really blame them. They genuinely don’t know.

In fact, maybe it’s our fault. Maybe there just aren’t enough Brazilians promoting our culture out there in the world. So! I thought, why not do a little introduction just in case?

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