Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Sao Paulo’

about this crazy city…

It’s a love hate relationship with this city people call Sampa. A mix of good and bad, rich and poor, ugly and beautiful. You may think, well that is any city, but the difference is the extremity that Sampa provides. The kilometers of traffic, the thousands of slums, the thousands of rich, the hundreds of top restaurants, hotels. It has everything you want and everything you don’t in one tiny area of 1,522.986 square km.

I came across this video the other day and thought it was an incredible view of the vastness and enormity of this city.



about some of the things that I missed…

So I got a lot of crap from my students when I got back to Brazil. They all said that I wrote a one way blog entry and that even though I missed things from home there has got to be things I missed about Brazil. Well… in the end… they were right. So here we go, without further ado… The top ten things I took/take for granted in Brazil:

1. Vegetables and Fruits tasting…well…like…vegetables and fruits.
*For some reason they just taste much better down here. Don’t ask me why guys… I just eat it.

2. Juices.
*No. It is not the same as #1 because juices in Brazil deserve their own category. Watermelon, Mango, Papaya, Caju, Grape… you name it, they’ve got it. The succulent, refreshing, all natural juices in this country have become my daily liquid intake. And I love every second of it.

3. Beaches
*If you don’t know that I like beaches, you don’t know me. And if you don’t know that Arizona doesn’t have beaches, well then you wouldn’t understand why I missed them so much.

4. Feiras
*God’s gift to Brazilians. A market full of everything you should eat in life. Every. Single. Day.

5. Not always doing things the right way.
*Ok, so its not like I’m a big fan of let’s disobey laws. But in Brazil its just so easy to just twist the law a little… don’t get me wrong guys, I’m a law-abiding citizen… well.. as much as any other Brazilian, right? It says don’t park… but… oh… maybe just for a little bit is ok… right?

6. Brazilian Food… Rodizios…Pastel…Sushi…Pão de Queijo…
*Its just so good. Period.

7. Football Fervor
*The excitement and passion that Brazilians have for their teams is a true devotion. Some times too much…but still.

8. Portuguese.
*I missed speaking Portuguese! Well… trying to speak Portuguese!

9. Challenges.
*Don’t get me wrong again… anywhere you go, you have challenges. But living in a country that is not your own is a completely different second-by-second challenge that teaches you all about yourself and makes you feel totally uncomfortable, but in a good way. It makes you do things you never thought you would do. It’s probably the best thing about living abroad.

10. G and P. And my Brazilian family.
*People always make a place what it is.

about the things I took for granted at home…

1. Ordering a coffee can be as complicated as you want and the barista will not get mad at you.
* It makes me want to order something  more complicated than my normal Americano. Just because I can.

2. A smile towards another person or at you does not mean I want to hit on you or that I want something from you… it simply is a sign of recognition.
*Which often results in me smiling at everyone and looking like an idiot. Besides the point.

3. Free water at restaurants or bars or any place with a food or beverage item is totally normal.
*Even if you’re a starving teacher, at least you will only starve and not die of thirst.

4. Walking around in my pajamas all day and night without feeling an ounce of guilt.
*Maybe an ounce.

5. Playing music loud and not having to care about the neighbors upstairs, downstairs or on either sides.
*Not like my neighbors in SP ever care anyways.

6. Not having to play chicken while crossing the street.
*Even though I often do out of habit. Then I get strange looks. Like, “Lady…I stopped for you, you don’t have to run like an idiot”.

7. Ridiculous amounts of things for ridiculous prices (I’m glad I only come home once a year).
*Oh Target. How I love thee.

8.Traffic only during rush hour.
*ONLY being the key word.

9. Leisurely walking through stores without being hassled about what I want to buy. Heaven forbid I just want to browse.
*Although I have gotten the act of ignoring a salesperson down to an art in SP.

10. Citizens obeying the law.
*Don’t get me wrong people…Sao Paulo has a few law abiding citizens, but just a few.

I’m sure there are more… but these are the top for now.

about summer festivals…

Well, summer has arrived and all good things that come with it… including sweat, humidity, cold beer, thunderstorms, and much more. One thing that G and I have been most looking forward to are the summer music festivals that start to pop up around now. We recently went to two big ones and I feel the need to write about them not to just brag (because they were sah-weet), but to acknowledge what a positive experience both of them were and what great organization both these festivals had.

The first festival was Natura Music Festival and although I don’t have great pictures from the event it was super well organized. Unfortunately, we had a downpour of rain 5 minutes before we arrived which put a little damper on it, but it soon cleared up and the life went on. The food stalls were filled with all organic products and just as many hamburgers as vegetarian options. Now before you think I was chowing down on tofu while watching Jamiroquai, think again. I had pizza and popcorn. However, the point is there were options!! The bathrooms were decent and always had soap, toilet paper, and paper towel. The festival stalls promoted a lot of save the nature/animals kind of thing and I was surprised to see a fair amount of people interested in the products and souvenirs they were selling. The sound, lighting and overall stage set-up was great too.

Then last weekend we went to Planeta Terra Festival to see Mika, Smashing Pumpkins, Phoenix, Hot Chip and others. It was in an amusement park and the whole park was closed only for people attending the festival. The best part was all the rides were open until 4am! So if you didn’t like the band currently playing or you wanted to give your ears a rest and your adrenaline a rush then you just headed over to the rides! Food was good and plenty of options available (although not organic). There were some 20,000 people at the festival so I guess organization was more a necessity than a luxury, but it still impressed me.

Yippee for well organized festivals!

about the continuity Brazil asked for…

Hm. I won’t go all political on my blog, I merely want to state my opinion on the recent elections that brought Dilma Rousseff to power in this ever-changing and growing nation. I can’t vote here and it is frustrating, so in the end I only have the right to comment on facts and opinions I have heard and that I feel. So what I write here is simply this and not a complaint about this country.

Many say that Dilma Rousseff’s election to office was a sign of the democratic progress Brazil has made… really? I don’t know if I completely agree with this. I think that this election was highly influenced by Lula, not the fact that they wanted Lula (which may be true), but that the country was voting for continuity (of more than just a person, but of the policies and procedures). Over the past eight years that Lula has been in power Brazil has seen many changes for the better and this was enough to influence many people to vote for Lula’s party, which as a result put Dilma in power. My point is that it could have been anyone and with the approval and backing of Lula, this person would have won.

I always find this interesting…if you look at a map of Brazil and the past elections there are clear reflections between states and poverty levels (even look at the city of São Paulo, the exterior part of the city is plagued with hills of favelas). The higher the amount of poverty, the higher the chance of voting for the worker’s party (Dilma’s party). The lower the poverty, the lower the chance of voting for the worker’s party. For this reason, Brazil is stuck between class voting. Maybe this voting is present in many countries and I am just now becoming aware of its power over what happens in a country’s elections. The Economist stated this difference in class level voting and although I don’t think it is necessarily a bad thing because in the end it represents the country and what and who the country is. However, I do think that it is something that separates a country rather than unifies it, and this task may be Dilma’s most difficult.

Another point I want to make was the convenient holiday that was declared over this voting weekend, which consequently accounted for a 21.5% abstention. This is an extremely high percentage, considering voting is compulsory in Brazil. Another thing to consider…

The last point I want to make is about Dilma’s identity, whether she will simply be Lula in a woman form or she will represent herself and choose her own path and identity. There are many things Brazil needs to continue to work on (the health system, schools and universities, labor, union, and political reforms). Furthermore, corruption and violent crimes are still high and remain another one of Brazil’s biggest challenges.

I sincerely hope that Dilma will make a difference, will continue to improve this country, and will seek to further the progress of this country and not only the appearance of the country in the International world. Most of all, I hope that Dilma understands what truly needs fixing in my opinion, the importance of equal education for every child, this will in return create a better family structure and equal opportunities and the presence of a community.

about eat, work, play…

After the relaxing two and a half weeks I had with my parents its hard to face the reality of Sao Paulo again. When my parents came to visit I felt like I did every time I have visited Brazil… I felt like it was this magical country that is filled with beautiful people, rich culture, exquisite food (even if the best part is…its fried) it was so good to once again have a positive perspective on things. I found comfort in having my parents here… people that I knew… people that knew me… people who understood where I came from. Please don’t get me wrong I have met very nice people in Brazil, but there is and always will be some sort of gap… a space that isn’t filled… a space that you will keep wanting to fill. I suppose it’s culture that does it. Or maybe sometimes you do it to yourself. Anyways, my point is Sao Paulo is different when you’re on vacation than when you live here.

Is it possible to be on vacation in the city you live in? I guess for me it was! I didn’t need to take public transportation, I didn’t need to worry about time, money, traffic, writing reports and looking over my shoulder to make sure I’m safe. No sir (and ma’am)…I walked the streets like I owned the town. I ate out without worrying about money. I enjoyed the city. And it gave me a chance to sit back and realize what Sao Paulo is all about… eating, working and playing. People come here from all over the world and all over Brazil. They come because Sao Paulo is the next big thing… it’s changing right before your eyes. It has opportunities that Brazil hasn’t seen for years. It is Brazil’s biggest hope! So yeah… they work hard here… they play hard… and you better bet your bottom dollar that they eat hard too.

It doesn’t mean Sao Paulo is without it’s flaws. Anyone that knows anything about anywhere knows this. Its a city where the difference between poor and rich is so clear it makes you feel a little nauseous. Where it may be common to see thousands living among makeshift brick homes along the hillsides where the rich look down upon from their tall apartment buildings. But what can you do? You are living in a city where community is a scarce word, where your neighbor is even looking for a bargain from you and where you find yourself doing and thinking things you didn’t think you would.

I’m stuck. Stuck in between two worlds! I can’t figure out what to do!

Sao Paulo is an interesting journey…

about moving south again…

After writing and erasing and writing and erasing…after motivated then unmotivated then motivated then unmotivated…after happy then sad then happy then sad…after busy then lonely then tired then lazy… I am attempting to write my first entry in a month. I guess life happens… it gets in the way sometimes. You don’t know what to do with it and as a result you just aren’t quite yourself.

Either way, here I am! In this massive megalopolis called São Paulo. This city is not for the faint of heart however and kicks your butt when you least expect it (I have learned to expect everything now). The city where more than 20 million people consider home, where you could be stuck in traffic for 5 hours, where helicopter traffic exists, where the best chefs compete, and where the skyscrapers are your scenic view… is where I am trying to find my home.

After spending almost a year in Sevilla (700,000 people) it was and is a big change, but a necessary one. G found work straight away and is paying off his debts and saving for some new nomadic travels. I am teaching (slowly, but surely) and we are trying to make the most of our time in Sampa.

When I was still back in Sevilla I had been trying to find some blogs speaking about São Paulo and about people who had moved to São Paulo. I found one in particular whose blog saved my life. She is Canadian and has been living in São Paulo for a year. As soon as I arrived I contacted her and we met for drinks and then almost every 3 days we met again for something or another. She was my savior! I confided in her and she helped me with work, classes, students, my mental state, and gaining weight (by eating cookies). She has now moved back to Canada and is enjoying the life of fresh air and maple syrup. However, I hope during my time here I can be the same light she was to me when I first came.

I’m excited to write about this new city I’m exploring, the new language I’m learning, and the new me I shall no doubt become.

Tchau for now…