Every cloud has a silver lining. There's a whole series of posts waiting to be written about driving in Brazil, and, on balance, there's a bit of work needed to be done by my Brazilian counterparts to ensure efficiency and safety in their road travel. But for now, let me concentrate on some of the positives.
I recently discovered the joys of driving with the window down. Usually the car is so hot that AC is necessary, but why not, I thought to myself recently, switch off the AC and enjoy the fresh(ish) air of Natal's rush hour combined with the cacophony of sounds that eminate from every street corner. It's oddly liberating, it relaxes me and it's giving me a truckers one-armed tan in the process. Things I love about Brazil #51: driving with the windows down (and not freezing in the process).
On weekends and on mornings off I'll get into my car with flip-flops on as will the majority of drivers in Natal, I suspect. Driving with flip-flops is actually illegal (you don't want your havainas wrapped around the accelerator by accident!) so people shuffle them off and drive barefooted (barefeeted?), which is something I had to get used to when we arrived here. Sometimes the police try to scare tourists by telling them driving barefoot is illegal, but that's a big porky pie.
I reckon driving barefoot is the automobile-piloting equivelent of swimming naked in a lake at night. It feels mischievous and wonderfully liberating and may result in your extremeties (I'm talking about toes in the car example) being unusually exposed to the elements. After some time, and most people I know who drive barefoot agree with me on this, that skin to metal contact results in better clutch control and a feather-light touch on the accelerator. Things I love about Brazil #52: driving barefoot.
And, as a direct result of the thing I love about Brazil #54 - things I love about Brazil #53: Somebody fills your car up with gas, checks your oil and your tires without you having to get out.