After more than two months in Brazil, today was the first time I got behind the wheel of a car.
Have I mentioned I have a driver?
(No, that's not really my driver; my driver is a cute little Brazilian man. He doesn't were a chauffeur's hat or any special chauffeur clothing.)
I know, pretty weird. I'm not really a chauffeur kind of gal.
For me driving = freedom. But, oddly enough, I quite like having the driver take me hither and thither. I don't have to worry myself about such things as extremely limited parking and very aggressive bus drivers. He helps me grocery shop (or takes the maid to grocery shop), shuttles the kids to and from school so they don't have to be inundated with bad words on the bus, lets me practice my sorry Portuguese on him, runs errands for me, and is ALWAYS in a good mood.
I always joke with Guapo that a good driver is better than a husband because:
- He is almost never late.
- If he is going to arrive late, he always calls.
- He doesn't mind when I chat with friends at the end of functions.
- He opens the car door for me.
- He would never dream of letting me carry anything that weighs over 10 lbs.
- When I ask him to do crappy little extra jobs he just smiles at me and says, "Of course, Gabriella!" like I've just made his day.
- He never complains (at least not out loud) about my "demands".
It does have a few drawbacks though; first there's the whole freedom issue but I'm pretty much over that for now. Then, although it is my car, it doesn't really feel like it. This guy has been driving the gringo wives around for 11 years, the last 5 of which have been in my very same car. So, I don't really feel comfortable leaving apple cores and half-empty water bottles rolling around the floor of the car. And, he currently controls the radio and the temperature. I could, but I just feel too weird reaching out and changing something he's turned on.
Anyway. Today he had other company business to attend to so I was forced to drive myself to the school to pick up the kids. I felt paralyzed; it was as if I was 15 again and was contemplating taking my parents car out for a joyride (don't worry mom, I never actually did this). Um, hello! I've been driving now for close to 20 years, 6 of which were in bigger, scarier cities than this. You'd think I could handle a 15 minute drive (that I have made with the driver at least 60 times) without breaking a sweat.
Still, it is the very first drive in a new, big, foreign city that is the most nerve-racking. Normally when we get to a new place, we go out the first weekend and Guapo and I take turns driving around, getting the lay of the land. Somehow I just never did it here. So I had to make the maiden voyage all by myself today.
It all turned out fine. I made it to and from the school with no incidents. :) But, I am happy to know that tomorrow, when I go down to the garage, my smiling, happy driver will be awaiting us.