A summer in Sao Paulo could be so many things. Mine was so few of them, as it was mostly business, but there was much that I saw and learned of the people and in the nature. A few pictures and remarks, not that am a travel blogger, but since I was off my continent I figure an exception is permitted.
A tree eating a wall – a wall upon which the verb ‘to see’ is written. This is one of the first things I saw, right outside the Pullman Hotel in Via Olympia. It spoke to me. I would wish the tree/all trees to succeed in tearing down as many walls as it/they wished to tear down, but to tear down the power to see, if that was the consequence, I hesitate. Would a nature that was blind but vigorously growing be a superior nature?
I didn’t get around much initially, the fact-based rumors of the danger of the city had retarded my natural tendencies to wander. Pushed them into a stealthier place. I brought with me top-siders that holes in them. Subtly inconspicuous t-shirts. Sweat pants. I carried an expired driver’s license and R$300. Hey-eyes! Hey eyes, you say? Yes, because the Real (rhymes with See Al) is the currency, but you must know that when an R leads a word of course it changes to an H (is that not obvious!?) and that when we pluralize the Real it becomes Reai. Really, such that we say ‘hey eyes’.
There are almost no bar stools in Sao Paulo. My normal approach when manually discovering a new city is to have a few beers with the locals, talk, ask questions, listen to stories. No go here. All tables. I could listen, but my listening in Portuguese was very weak. I felt like a dog – I could understand some, perhaps even the important gist – happy, sad, etc, but specificity was not happening. It feels very lame to get out the cellphone and do the Google Translate thing and point at it. Google translate does have a cool thing I discovered though, on this trip, that you can point it (via cellphone) at a newspaper, for example, or any text, and it will substitute the translation for what it is seeing. Bad ergonomics though for consuming much data.
I did go to the Botanical Garden one Saturday. Leaf cutter ants were fun to watch. Sloths and monkeys were advertised as lurking in the forest too, but perhaps it was a shy day. I did also go another Saturday to the Ibirapuera park. That was very nice, teeming with humans though. Took a long walk to get there.
I did read the paper every morning. The staff at the Pullman was very nice. They’d help translate things and make sure I tried all the special things. Beware the shell of the cashew, says the man who tried to chew through one. Lip burns that only took a few days to heal, no big deal really. The cashew fruit though, and the juice – most delicious.
I could say a thousand or more things about my time there, probably much more, but this really isn’t a travel blog. Looking out the window of the Mercure, where I also stayed for a time, was what ultimately became the sense of Sao Paulo for me
this overwhelming density of urbanity, people packed and stacked high, thriving, perhaps, but certainly bustling, bustling beyond my ability to comprehend.