My wife says I constantly complain about the orange barrels and traffic cones when driving the streets and highways in the Cincinnati area. But I promise not to complain again.
I have only been a passenger in cars, not a driver, since I arrived in Natal, Brazil, three weeks ago. As a result I have spent a lot of time watching traffic flow and all that goes with it. As I am told often, “This is just the Brazilian way.”
Let me explain. There is no speed lane on the highways; all lanes are speed lanes! Cars dart in and out of traffic at will. Motorcycles weave in and out of traffic stopped at traffic lights. They also pass cars on the curb side.
In addition to bicycles, men and women pushing wheelbarrows are on the busy highways as they look through trash left on the medians of many streets. Occasionally, a donkey and cart whose driver is also picking from the trash ambles down the street. When they spot something they want, they stop in the lane of traffic and put the item in their cart or wheelbarrow. Cars maneuver around these and seem to think nothing about it.
Speed limit signs are posted haphazardly on city streets so you are not sure how fast to go in some areas. Not only are speed limit signs rare, but often intersections have no stop signs. So drivers ease into the intersection and hope for the best.
When there is a hard rain, streets flood quickly and a car can easily get stuck unless the driver is very careful.
Traffic weaves around large potholes and even then it is hard to avoid a particularly rough spot in the road.
What impresses me most is that no one seems to complain like I do about roads in the United States. They simply shrug their shoulders and say, “This is the Brazilian way.” I hope I can keep my promise that I will never complain again about the highways in the United States. If I forget, I’m sure my wife will remind me.