Thursday, 18 December 2008

On the road in Rio Grande do Sul

Cidreira, three hours by bus from Porto Alegre, is windy, very windy, and not my idea of a week at the beach. And so I decided to go to Torres instead.

On the spur of the moment I ask the taxi driver on the way to the bus station how much the trip to Tramandaí by taxi would be. I thought his fare reasonable but nevertheless asked for a ten percent discount. He agreed, and so we took off.

Sérgio was 58 and had not always been a taxi driver. Most of his life he had worked as a musician. He played contrabass, first classical ("There are too few people in Brazil interested in it; you can't really make a living") then more popular tunes, and finally gaúcho-music. His music took him all over Brazil, and also to Uruguay, Argentina, and Bolivia. "What about Paraguay? I thought every Brazilian here in the South has been to Paraguay ...". "Well, I do not count shopping trips as visiting a country" he said.

At the bus station in Tramandaí I learned that there was no bus to Torres for several hours. I decided to continue my trip with Sérgio (again ten percent discount on his regular fare). Just outside of Imbé we almost collided with two horses that ran across the highway (had I not shouted ... !?) - they had broken free from wherever they were strapped to (they still had their cords around their necks).

From time to time, Sérgio slowed down because of monitoring cameras or because of traffic police. For the latter he put his glasses on. I looked at him in bewilderment. "My driving licence says I need to wear glasses" he explained. "However, I need only glasses to read, this is why I do not put them on. Except for the police for, well, you know, they check my driver's licence and there it says that I need to wear glasses and so I do, for them." He added: "Um jeitinho brasileiro, tudo é um jeitinho no Brasil." A "jeitinho" stands for Brazil's creative way of dealing with life's various challenges and includes breaking the law and feel virtuous about it.


Kalina said...

Hans, we Brazilians criticize the jeitinho brasileiro, but - i think - we all have had the privilege of using it in a way of another, at least once in life. maybe it is because if you go strict on the rules, many people do not stand a chance, so. . .
Well, i am coming to understand that different cultures have their our 'jeitinho' that works pretty much in the same way as it does in Brazil. what so you think? I've heard and lived situations that tell me of that.
But please tell us the rest of the beach trip story. did you find more horses on the way?
Brazilians hugs,

AcrossCultures said...

True, Brazilians criticize the jeithino but I haven't met anybody who didn't go along with it.
Yes, each and every culture has its own 'jeithino' but the Brazilian version seems to be quite a bit more flexible than, say, the Swiss.
Thankfully, there were no more horses on the way.