1 You don’t need a prescription to get medication at a pharmacy, so if you want any medication you just go an buy them, the pharmacies are meant by law to have a resident pharmacist to help and advice, but often they only work part time in each pharmacy so in reality you are served by a kid fresh out of school whose main interest is in giving you a basket to help carry all the drugs you are buying.
2 Most people work 6 days a week, sure office workers work five, but most real workers work six days, holidays are also a luxury we take for granted, lots of people we have talked to think we are making a joke when we ask them what they did for their holidays, they appear not to get any – except the public holidays.
3 Footpaths are not publicly maintained, if you have a footpath outside your house or building it’s up to you to build and maintain it. This great if you always wanted to do something nice with your piece of footpath, like put down some marble slabs, or concrete it and paint it green, but in reality it means the footpath is more like a minefield, some pieces are not maintained at all, others have ramps, or steps or walls built into them, for this reason prams and buggies are very rare over here, they just don’t work, its easier and probably safer to carry your kids than push them!
4 Most places have valet parking, that’s right drive up to your local bar, leave the man the keys for small fee (about £3) and when you have had a skin full of beers, ask the guy to bring the car round to the front so you can weave your way home. Valet parking is also big for restaurants, clothes shops, shoe shops, supermarkets and even our local bicycle shop!!
5 Road rules are for sissies. We live above a busy intersection, so I could fill a full blog with just what happens outside our building, where we see or hear a traffic accident at least every two days. Some of my favourite Brazilian driving tricks are:
a. Quickly turn at the traffic lights across the path of the oncoming traffic before they get across the intersection.
b. Ignore traffic lights completely, well maybe not completely, only when its dark, raining, your running late or any other reason you can think of.
c. Every road is a double lane motorway, no matter how wide the road is, there is always room for second car to just slip past you, don’t worry about the laws of physics, common sense or gravity, there is always room to sneak through. This rule of course means that a real three lane motorway becomes a six lane scramble!
d. If you own a fast car, the speed limit doesn’t apply to you, this seems to be the case for owners of Porsches, Ferraris, black BMWs and WRX owners who love seeing how fast they can get from traffic light to traffic light.