Monday, August 24, 2009


In Ipatinga (and I think in many areas of Brazil) motorcycles (or motos) are an extremely important mode of transportation. Not only do a large majority of people use them, but they are used largely for taxis as well. They are fast and cheap (not to mention dangerous). Also a lot of people purchase motorcycles because compared to cars, they are more affordable with a month to month payment. But with all these things come reservations....All I can see as they fly by me are death machines.

The motos here scare the heck out of me. They weave in and out of traffic. Squeeze and ride on the sides of the road to pass cars, trucks, and buses. When waiting for lights they often weave in and out to get to the front. And then they take off before the light turns green. EVERY. TIME.

And every day, what do I see? Car and moto accidents. Moto and bicycle (another important mode of transportation) accidents, only moto accidents (usually from trying to avoid car, bus, bicycle, pedestrian). There is SO MUCH going on all the time on these streets.

Cars, motos, buses, they all ride EXTREMELY close to one another, pass eachother in tight quarters, make their own lanes according to need. I dont know how I'll ever learn to drive here. One thing I have noticed though, and only can say for the few cars I have rode in, here in Ipatinga, is there are no cup holders. Well there really isn't much of anything. I think mainly because the cars are so small. But there seems to be less to distract them. I have only seen one driver so far on a cell phone while driving (I'm SURE there are more, but not nearly as many as in the US), I have yet to see anyone eating. And in general it seems people here pay more attention, because if you weren't, you would for sure get in an accident.

There are auto schools EVERYWHERE in Ipatinga. So my question is, do they teach you to drive this way? In my opinoin aggressive. Or is it a natural Brazilian trait? I can tell you this much...I understand my husbands driving SO MUCH more now. And his disdain at the way we drive in the states. Not that I condone it. I prefer our spacious, slow ways.

So even though my husband would LOVE to have this yellow, very fast death machine motorcycle (since he is moto-ing it with no motor i.e. bicycle) I put my foot down. We will wait. And save. And buy a practical, somewhere in the late 90's model car. So that when I start to learn to drive, (and be a passenger) here, I can do so feeling a little more protected.

Until then, I will watch this, then look into puppy dog chestnut brown eyes and say....NO.

**Another important note to be made: Here they do need to wear helmets, which I am all for. If you are going to ride one of these things, helmets ARE necessary. For me so is fully protective clothing. Jeans, long sleeves, and close toed shoes. However, we are in Brazil.

***Another important note: I like motorcycles. My dad has a Goldwing (which for those who aren't familiar, it's a touring bike. You know the motorcycle with the big travel boxes on the side?) and we went on a trip together where we rode for days. I really enjoyed myself. But they bikes that go from 0 to 60 in a matter of seconds are insane. And dangerous if not trained properly and used properly. A huge factor that makes me biased is one of my best friend's from college Tori. Our freshmen year, she got into an accident on a motorcycle, she had major damage to her brain, lost ability to use the right side of her body, talk, walk, eat, etc. She has been going through years of rehabilitation and it has drastically changed her life. I am amazed at the leaps and bounds she has made in recovery and I am proud of her every day. However this makes me an advocate for safety and gives me the realization of what that 0 to 60 can do to your life in the flash of an eye.


  1. The motorcycle drivers are crazy in Paraguay too!! You describe it well.
    I think it´s the Latin blood!

  2. Kent keeps talking about getting a motorcycle- and I refuse. There's no way I'm letting him get on one of those.