Yesterday was a Rio adventure. Vance wanted to look for wood for some projects and so we decided to wander down to Leroy Merlin, one of the big hardware stores. Getting there only involved a modicum of confusion: there's the insanity around the big bus stop at the beginning of Barra, where pedestrians get to participate in a live-action video game. It's exhilarating. You have vehicles coming around two separate corners (it's one way traffic, and yet because of the brilliant "planning," from one direction there's actually this strange loop where the road briefly jogs into British (left-hand) driving, which confuses drivers who already don't know what lane they want to be in and have never heard of using those strange things called...brakes? Turn signals? All traffic is attempting to merge onto a highway. Meanwhile, as your bus stop drops off passengers on a virtual island without a light, traffic guard or bridge, the only way to get from one side of the road to the other is to imitate a chicken, darting out into traffic. I forgot to take a picture, but here's one borrowed from Google maps and another from a local blogger, both showing photos from low, low traffic times of day:
The crosswalk is lovely. Just wish they'd thought to, you know, complete it!
Arriving in one piece after nearly being puked on by small children in the van (got to LOVE public transportation and how it prepares you for parenthood), we had fun picking out stuff for our future projects, marveling at some of the ridiculous prices and generally goofing off. I even brought my camera along so you could share in our glee. Here are some highlights which are blissfully self-explanatory:
On the way back, we have even MORE fun. There are traffic lights and bus stops on both sides of the highway, but no pedestrian crossings on Av. Aytron Senna by the Leroy Merlin and the fish market. There IS a pedestrian/cyclist path running down the median, but the only way to reach it is by stepping over curbs, standing on the shoulder and running between traffic. Yay. Pregnant ladies love that. We also love riding in buses manned by insane drivers whose brakes are literally BURNING and who manage to engage in a ridiculous number of near-accidents in the 10 minutes we're actually on the thing. I think Vance would have liked to take the guy out of the front seat and permanently prevent him from ever driving again!
Traffic things have really been my thing this week. There was the near accident with my bus on Friday in which a woman tried twice (TWICE!) to drive through our bus to go the wrong way down a one way street, finally giving up, not by driving away, but by throwing her car in reverse on a major one way street. I can only assume this meant she was determined to make it down that street. After all, traffic direction is just a suggestion...
No worries though. Driving in Brazil isn't ALL bad. You can park wherever you want. See?
Apparently this person thought that the speed bumps in the parking lot were actually lines for where to leave your car. They did leave it running, but unmanned. I didn't have keys or a baseball bat handy, which is a shame. What I'd like is to have a collection of those gunshot stickers...and affix them to cars that park in the crosswalks, on the sidewalk, or like here, in the MIDDLE OF THE TRAFFIC LANES in the parking lot. Morons. They deserve to have a minor anxiety attack...