Rio, Paraty and Police.

It stopped raining in Rio before we left. We did the beaches and the other sights. Although we were not in Rio at carnival time we visited the "industrial estate" where the top ten Samba Schools build their giant floats.

The Metropolitan cathedral (below) was impressive, in a nuclear-power-station-cooling-tower sort of a way.

In complete contrast to Rio our next stop was at the small laid-back seaside town of Paraty. Very arty-crafty but well worth a visit. Lots of churches, galleries and restaurants. Although there are a couple of camp sites they were not attractive. We parked between the old-town (which is chained off to stop vehicle access) and the sea. The car park (S23.220543 W44.710465) near the wharf has water and charges $8USA per night. Highly recommended.

So far on this trip we have had very little trouble with the police. Today we had our first, rather amateur, attempt to extract a bribe in Brazil.

Mog was stopped at a routine police check point and papers demanded. The only papers normally offered to the police are the International Driving Permit (IDP) and the International Certificate of Motor Vehicles (ICMV). These documents, whilst official and impressive, are only "copies" issued for about $10USA by the RAC. We all have multiple IDPs and ICMVs, just in case the police want to keep them until a fine or bribe is paid.

There are two types of International Driving Permits in use. The common one is issued on the basis of the 1949 Convention on Road Traffic. This convention was not signed by Brazil and the permit does not contain a Portuguese translation. The less common IDP is issued on the basis of the 1926 convention, Brazil did sign this convention and there is a Portuguese translation.

Naturally Mog provided the police with a 1926 IDP. This IDP lists three categories of vehicles. "A" for vehicles up to 3,500kg, "B" for vehicles over 3,500kg, and "C" for motorcycles. The IDP was correctly endorsed for categories "A" and "B" (but not "C"). After some thought the policeman announced that since the domestic Brazilian driving licence required an endorsement for category "C" to drive a vehicle the size of Mog there was "a problem", and by implication a problem that required a payment (bribe) to solve it!

No payment was offered!

Stephen Stewart.

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