Thursday, November 05, 2009


I promised to update this more frequently and I am now going to promise to live up to that promise. Thanks Asher and Mick for reminding me that I am about as worthwhile as Barack Obama these days. Although you guys probably just wanted something to read whilst dropping a deuce, you have re-inspired me. Might as well give me a Webby right now.

What I can tell you is that I have been without a phone since October 12. That will all change tonight when I make my triumphant return to the first world and get back on an iPhone. That means I can post pictures and videos on the fly to this puppy. That much I can promise to do because there are many worthy "sights" in Rio.

So what's this First-World / Fourth-World nonsense you ask? Well, Rio is a very diverse place in all facets of life. At times, things are very First-World (1W) - meaning they are on-par or better than their corollaries in New York City. In stark contrast, there are times when things are more impovershed and make less sense than the way they did in the India I knew 10 years ago - Fourth-World (4W). And then there are plenty of things that fall in between. You guessed it: (2W and 3W).

Full credit for this rating system goes to Ranjan and his Blue-State / Red-State comparisons over on his excellent blog - which also does not get updated with appropriate frequency.

So let's kick this off (albeit a little slowly - twill be much better once I am phone in hand):

Rio de Janeiro Busses: 4W - most of these things are rickety old pieces of solid steel that burn wholes in the Ozone Layer with each press of the gas pedal. I think they do this to help Cariocas work on their tan. Each bus seems to be privately operated so the drivers have an incentive to pack as many people on as possible. This results in people being packed in the aisles and since you enter at the front and exit at the back, you are constantly forced to play a g-rated bout of tummy sticks with countless passengers.

Bus Efficiency: 1W - contrary to the buses and the ettiquete of driving them, the efficiency is amazing. Every driver thinks he (yet to see a female) is a formula 1 pilot (they don't call them drivers). They weave through traffic and have a jam on the breaks at will. I am pretty sure I have been involved in 2 or 3 power slides (not really sure what that is, but Hans used to say this all the time). You can also just flag a bus down in much the same way you would hail a taxi. Great because if there is no hail, the driver is going to fly right past a stop.

In a word, busses are a system of organized chaos. I have found that you can have a great ab workout by standing and trying to balance through the busts lane changes and jarring stops and starts. It's almost like surfing.

Pictures will start rolling in tomorrow!


Anonymous said...

Tummy Sticks=hilarious. I think you are confusing your Qs and Ws btw.
Try to avoid the Amigos Unidos busses, they are the worst. Always worth it to spring for the frescao, especially if you're going to centro from leblon and back.
-ash said...


you're right about the Qs and Ws. Instinctual activity from a previous life.

The buses in the morning aren't that bad. It's just going home during rush hour. It sucks.

I have taken every type of bus, including the van-taxis! Actually, it was in one of those where I went iPhone down. Not sure I'll play that game again.

Anonymous said...

what do you mean? you had it stolen? said...

not stolen . . . left it on a seat in a moment of absentmindness. As soon as I shut the door to the van, i realized it. But, alas, when i turned around, the driver had already put on his best Ayrton Senna and was 1km down the road.