Today is my final day in Brazil.
As much as Im looking forward to going home to baked beans and a credit card that actually works, I know ill arrive home and have post-Brazil blues. Probably until I return!
Before I get too soppy and emotional, I’ll fill you in on the past few days.
After the highs and low of Paraty, we took the shortest and most expensive taxi ride to the bus station because it was raining. Then the shortest bus journey ever to Sao Paulo. I can only assume this was a good thing and that I slept most of the way.
After 10 weeks in Brazil, and 11 bus journeys, mostly overnight, I can now say that you are not a pro unless you can put 2 contact lenses in, in the dark, on a moving bus, on Brazilian roads 10 seconds after waking up.
Sao Paulo. Where do I even start.
Based on my brief opinion 10 short weeks ago on the taxi ride from the airport to the bus terminal, it look like what I had expected. Based on arriving back in Sao Paulo at 5.15am, getting a rather expensive taxi to a rather bad hostel did not improve my opinions.
After a quick nap in a room we came to fondly call, ‘The Cave’, due to the fact someone was always sleeping and the lights were therefore never on, a cold shower and a half way decent breakfast we ventured outside. Map in hand.
Sunshine! Halleujah! Making the most of the good weather, we headed to Parque Do Ibirapeura. My Opinion sky rocketed. The walk from our hostel to the park took us along Avenida Brazil, a swanky neighbourhood with gated mansions, small glass and chrome offices and some snazzy looking boutiques and restaurants. On arrival at the park, statues and monuments and fountains and cheerleaders. Yes cheerleaders.
Sao Paulo is affectionately known as the Tropical New York City. Apparently anyway, I’d never heard this before.
Its true, Ipirapuera could be Central Park. It could be Hyde Park. It could be any park really.
Its a big open green space, with a lake in the middle. There were familes having picnics, people playing with frisbees, shirtless runners … The sun as out and Sao Paulo was shining. Although barely anyone looked Brazilian at all. Unlike Rio where everyone is darker and the tourists are easy to spot, Sau Paulo is much more cosmopolitan (other magazines are available) and culturally diverse. Our hostel was full of Israeli’s.
Beyond the park, we got lost. Even with a map, we stopped and Klara asked for directions while, being a man, I pretended we werent together.
We made our way to Avenida Paulista. Supposedley the safest street in Sau Paulo according to my holy guide book and my German dad Matthias.
Again, my opinion of Sao Paulo was challenged. Paulista is the commercial centre of Sao Paulo, like Canary wharf in London. The 6 lane (I think) avenue is flanked on both sides by glass and steel skyscrapers, something I wasnt expecting from the city. The first starbucks Id seen in Sau Paulo, I know they were in Rio because each one was highlighted on the tourist map. “Look! A Starbucks, go there and pretend your back in rainy London not in Sunny Rio” … Yeah ok.
Unfortunately the next day it did rain. So we went to Starbucks.
As you may have seen, I tried to make life easy for the poor guy serving us. He had already endured my horrific Portuguese (even though Latte is the same in Portuguese) so I gave him a name I knew existed in Brazil. It had to be realistic though, i didnt want him to think I was lying to him! Abandoning my UK starbucks names of Alex and Harry (my name is just too unique) I went with Daniel. He didnt understand and still made me write my own name on the cup.
In the rain we ‘did’ the historic centre. I forget what we saw each day, because we did the historic centre for 3 or 4 days on rain. Sao Paulo’s Empire State building, its Stock Exchange, its tallest building, its oldest building, its Justice Palace (AKA Court house), its Cathedral (genuinely, called St Pauls aswell when you translate it) and a collection of other bits that all looked pretty much the same.
Sao Paulo is really not a pretty city. Its not even average. Besides the first day in the sun, its a really ugly city.
Its also really really big! From the top of the 3rd tallest building in Sao Paulo, its smaller copy of the Empire State, we looked out (and down on the tallest building, yeah work that out!) and could no longer see the shining towers of Paulista. We couldnt find the big green parks, we could barely see roads or people among the swamp of dusty cream and beige tower blocks. And thats all we could see, as far as you could see it was the same. Some very vague mountains in the distance, the city continued on after them apparently.
Due to 99% of the buildings being carbon copies of each other its also incredibily easy to get lost. This is also not helped by the road signs. Many seem not to point down any road but straight at a building, some road signs go across the roads which is doubly confusing at crossroads. There is a vague lattice structure to the roads like in America but because the city is so big, each one developed at different angles. REALLY USEFUL SAO PAULO, THANKS!
We also struggled to find a caipirinha for the first 2 nights. Ok, so the first night we didnt look because we were knackered from the journey. But the 2nd night we struggled! Maybe thats why we were both less than great moods. Our daily fix of caipirinhas in Rio had suddenly stopped. I imagine like when you stop smoking, although I wouldnt say Im addicted to caipirinhas. Did somebody say caipirinha? Its notoriously difficult to spell. So many ‘I’s.
On Thursday, I became an orphan. My intern mum Klara left for the airport and her flight back to Madrid, then Vienna, then home.
Luckily, my Brazilian family adopted me for the weekend so I was only an orphan for about 2 hours! A stroke of luck!
The end of May is a holiday in Brazil, for Corpus Christi. As this year it fell on a thursday, nobody works on the Friday either. Its a good system. So a weekend trip home for Karina and Felipe (my host from Maringa’s sister and her boyfriend) to Santos.
On the coast. Beach time!
When I left Campinas after Karina’s formatura I didnt think I would see my adopted Brazilian family again. It was really nice to end my time in Brazil with the same family that pretty much welcomed me to Brazil! After some amazing Japanese food, see sushi in a boat photo, 3 cheeky bars, one with an incredible view of the city from an island in the sea, a family birthday, lots of home cooked food and some final caipirinha’s on the beach Santos was over before it had really begun. It was a nice little rest at the end of my adventure in Brazil.
After one final night in Brazil, staying with a friend of Karina’s I met at her Formatura all those weeks ago (arent Brazilians so nice?!) Im packing up and heading home.
Cue emotional shit…
Its been one hell of a journey, Brazil has been so good to me, Im browner than I will ever be probably (more tanned than some of my adopted family!). Ive met some truly incredible people, that I definitely want to see again, in Brazil or in London! (Yes you’re all invited, but please dont all come at once). Had some truly amazing experiences both during my internship work in Maringa and my crazy galivanting around Brazil. Ive seen 9 cities and 4 states in just 10 weeks, it has flown by and Ive loved (almost) every single minute!
Brazil, I salute you.
I’ll be back.