My Blog

Stuff About Cars


Brasilians love their cars. They’re very expensive, even the older ones, so everyone takes very good care of them. Monica can’t believe that I don’t keep my 12 year old Explorer in a garage. I drove our Fiat this morning, so I thought I’d write a bit about cars and driving here in Volta Redonda.

First, just a note. In the picture above, you can see a white pole to the right of our driveway (along with the ever-present dog). This is not an ordinary telephone pole – this is a devious, sneaky car-eating pole. It sits there all day and waits for someone to pull in or out of our driveway. This sinister pole-from-the-devil then jumps into the way of the car, causing nasty body damage and a lesson in advanced Portuguese. Although nobody has actually seen this pole move, many people will swear that it has. It hasn’t caught me yet, but I know that it’s there. I’m watching it carefully. It is especially dangerous at night. Just a warning to you all, in case you want to visit our house. For me, I’m wondering if the body shop gives frequent-flyer discounts….

This morning I was cut off by a Kombi (VW bus) kombi.jpg on the bridge into Aterrado. The driver decided at the last minute to change lanes in front of me. He did use his turn signal (something very rare here), but not until he had just about completed his lane change. Remember that movie we all saw in high school about defensive driving? You need to use all of it here – if there’s a car in front of you, you need to imagine him doing the most insane thing possible and then be prepared for it. You have to drive for everyone else as well as for yourself magoo.jpg. Also, it seems that everyone’s always in a hurry.  Lane changing (without signals) is constant, as one car tries to gain a car’s length or two before the next red light. It’s like driving in Southern California, but nobody signals…..

The car needed gas this morning. After dropping Monica off at school, I took the car to the natural gas station. station.jpg Natural gas is much less expensive per mile than gasoline, so it is very popular. Many cars (ours included) have been modified to use this fuel. We have only two refueling stations in Volta Redonda (a third is being built), so one usually has to wait in a line. The storage capacity of our natural gas tanks takes us about a third as far as a full tank of gasoline, so you need to visit the filling station more often, also increasing the chance of finding yourself in a line. It wasn’t too bad this morning. Our car is filled from under the hood.mar17-002.jpg Can you tell that I have my camera phone back??

After that fill-up (about $12 US), I drove to a Shell station in Vila Mury mar17-004.jpg, where they have gasoline at a lower price than most places (very unusual for a Shell station) and had the tank filled (about $60 US). Gasoline prices have not changed in the two years that I have been coming to Brasil – in fact, the normal discount price at this station has always been R$2.49/liter. This morning I paid R$2.45. If I had a more modern car, I would have been able to choose between ethanol and gasoline. Ethanol is about 70% of the price of gasoline – it also takes you about 70% as far as gasoline will. Brasilians aren’t stupid. In the US, however, we’re cheering for ethanol, produced with the aid of government subsidies, protected by government tariffs and produced at the expense of our food supply. I have never heard anyone say that this miracle fuel will only take us 70% as far as the same amount of gasoline. The ethanol required to be blended into your gasoline INCREASES its price, causing a decrease in mileage. We are SO dumb….

I’ll get down from my soapbox…. soapbox.jpg

That’s all for now..







Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *