Letter From Brazil

The rain actually helps you survive in summer.


In February the weather was quite nice but too hot, 29°C! And sunny of course. After being in Europe for two months I started my first day back home looking after the bike (Honda 350) changed the mirrors for the ones from MCA, connected the Fiam horns from Milan and reconnected the battery. It did not start. I rushed to the shop, bought new spark plugs and it started. It was like a real rice machine, very noisy and all rust inside the exhaust pipe being ejected as water from a fountain! Anyway it worked and we went for a nice ride in the sun. It was very lovely: mild breeze, pleasant temperature, beautiful sun, green trees (not towards the centre of São Paulo of course, but towards the farm).

In January/February we have very hot days and suddenly rain. The rain stops after about 45 minutes and the air afterwards is clean and delicious. The rain actually helps you survive in summer. The nights are very pleasant so we ride every night for a short while.

Let me explain what is going on here now. We have been importing too much and there were a lot of people travelling to Europe so our situation was not great. When I went to Europe there was that funny (100%) deposit for 180 days when you wanted to import something. They have now extended the period to 360 days but we are only allowed to import heavy equipment, raw material and some other things that are not manufactured here. This must be interesting to Megaphone readers. For a bike you had to pay the 'deposit' but Yamaha started manufacturing bikes here so now we are no longer allowed to import, even paying the deposit. They say we have a 'national similar product' which doesn't make sense at all as you cannot compare a Brazilian moped or a Yam 125cc with a Honda 360cc or BMW 900 or Norton etc. What happened was that there are a few big bikes available, the import licence has been issued before the new restrictions. I intend to buy a new Honda 550cc so I have to buy soon before the dealers sell all their stock. The process of course increased enormously. I bought my Honda 350cc (1972) in August 1974 and paid £750 for it. In April I was offered £1,400 for it! Good investment you will agree.

The prices of new bikes are ridiculous; a Brazilian moped costs between £375 and £450.

Approximate prices of new bikes.

Honda125cc£575 Made in Brazil
Yamaha125cc£504 Made in Brazil

Mind you, you invest a fortune on a BMW 750 and have to fight with taxi and bus drivers in the streets. According to the Brazilian mentality the priority is of the bigger. You may ride nicely and respect the law but a bus is bigger and may cross in front of you without concern. In case you survive you will have the pleasure of seeing your investment (let's assume the BMW 750) put into pieces. You may claim but the insurance or transport company is richer than you so you'll never see the money. Just one more detail - do you know who taxi and bus drivers are? People who can just write their names and cannot find another job. Of course they like driving but feel a sort of revolt when they see people driving their own car or bike. I mean someone who gets in the car just to go to the office or back home, not driving as a means of earning the salary. How can you argue? they are in a bigger thing like a 'panzer', so all you have to do in the circumstances is use the brakes and pray as quickly as you can! I do not want to be unfair. Of course there are exceptions. The percentage is 98% crazy drivers and 2% nice drivers that respect you regardless the size of your car or bike.

Now as far as foreign travelling is concerned we are only allowed to take US$1,000 abroad (or the equivalent in other currency such as the DM or £ or Swiss Francs etc) For the US$1,000 you pay about Cr $11,000, but you have to make a deposit of Cr $12,000 before you leave the country. After one year you receive the Cr $12,000 back without interest or monetary correction. May I remind you that our inflation (actual) reaches 60% in a year. I see no chance of leaving Brazil so soon.

Another interesting thing. You may have a loan from a bank to cover your travel expenses but the interest rate is no longer controlled so it may be that the bank charges you seven to ten percent per month for such loans! You may also be lucky in having rich friends and perhaps they would lend you some money at five or six percent!

Petrol is costing £1.20 per gallon for the special and £1.07 for the normal.

We are now in winter (very bad by the way) and the temperature is 8°C at night. When the sun shines at noon it's 19-20°C. We are having a lot of rain this year in winter which is not normal but riding the bike is not much of a problem.

Let me tell you just one more thing about the prices of bikes here. I had to change one exhaust pipe - the right one was very noisy, totally destroyed. I could change only one replacing by an original Japanese - or change both pipes, replacing by Brazilian ones. These are very noisy so I preferred the original.

Prices:-One imported- £60
 Two Brazilian- £45

I'll stop now but promise to write again before Christmas! Please give my regards to Gordon and the big bloke of the BMW (Kevin).

Do come to Brazil and see me.

Lots of Love,

Maria Luiza