August 16, 2012 – 8:38 pm (I think) SP time
AHHH!! It’s so crazy here!! I’ve never lived in a big city like this before and it’s completely nuts. I see why people love it. Personally, I think the sound of cars at all hours of the night actually helps me fall asleep. I know that sounds weird, but it’s sort of lulling.
Yesterday was a crazy overwhelming day. I did my normal routine of search for breakfast, which usually consists of me finding some breakfast sandwich and juice from some whole in the wall (it hasn’t failed me yet!) and then coming back to the apartment. I taught a few classes, then decided to try my luck and wander into the centro. Mariana told me she’d prefer I’d stay in Itaim, because it’s a lot safer. She warned me about going into Centro alone, because it’s a pretty crazy area and known to be dangerous. Well….you know how I take people telling me what to do…
So I google mapped busses.
And ended up in the middle of the hood.
I met a lady who was from Morumbi, one of the shanty towns in Sao Paulo. She agreed to show me the way. “Be careful,” she kept saying, “Very dangerous. Be careful.” It actually started freaking me out, to be honest.
She gave me very good directions though, because the next time I asked someone (“Fala ingles?? No, okay, edificio Italia?!??!???”), they smiled and pointed right behind me.
The building was beautiful! The inside was decorated super Italian. I took two elevators to the top and decided the entire fiasco was worth it. I literally got a panoramic view of the entire city. I took a million pictures. I love how where the city ends, the forest begins. It’s amazing. SPEAKING OF FORESTS (Mom — don’t read this). I was absolutely starving so I saw this guy selling random purple things from a cart, using a cup to scoop into what looked like a dog poop bag. People were eating them. So….I bought a bag full and ate them all! I found out the fruit was called a Jabuticaba, a weird fruit that grows on tree bark (this is confirmed, I’m pretty sure I ate bark). The fruit inside tasted custardy with a funny seed in the middle, but the skin was horrible. I decided, when in Sao Paulo…eat fruit from random toothless men.
While at the Edificio Italia, I met a man who spoke Spanish, so we talked for a little bit. I’m pretty proud of my Spanish ability.
The pride was short-lived. I still had to find my way back.
And here’s the great thing about Google Maps and busses. They don’t have a freaking clue. NONE of the busses said Itaim on it, and I didn’t recognize any streets in the stops. I wandered around for a while, stopping at every bus station and waiting for a while, trying to see if any bus I recognize decided to drive by. They never came. I had this weird would be funny if it wasn’t happening to me thought where every time I left a station, the bus I was looking for drove by, but I don’t think that actually happened.
In my lost wanderings I discovered I was in Bela Vista, and right in front of me was the Cathedral de Se. I went inside and walked around…it was beautiful! It was huge with painted ceilings, and different rooms and statues everywhere…a very lucky find.
So now I’m in Bela Vista…still lost, and closer to the more “dangerous” part of town again. One thing about Brazil though — everyone wants to help you. If you ask for help or directions, even if they don’t speak English, they go out of their way to help. One guy and girl literally tried so hard to find my bus, but eventually I said it was okay. I wandered around and found the Municipal Theatre, which was really cool.
It started getting dark, so I got scared. The people started looking more sinister as the sun went down, so I decided to suck it up and take a taxi.
Advice from everyone I’ve met — I look Brazillian, try not to talk. I got in the taxi and said with my best accent “scema de Urusuey y Tabapua,” and started playing with my phone to look busy.
I taught a few classes and then waited for Stephanie, Roberta, and Sofia to pick me up to take me to the bar. They came over around 9:00pm and Barbara and I went with them. Brazillians are psycho ass drivers, btw. I was terrified. I don’t EVER want ANYONE to talk about my driving again. OOO that reminds me, my taxi driver hit a car and kept driving. That happens all the time. It’s like bumper cars, only faster, with louder horns.
Anyway, we got to the bar, Vaca Veia. The line was out the door, so we got beer and brought it outside. We eventually got a table and ordered some bar food, some deep fried rice/cheese balls, some chicken and potato type strip things, and some dried meet and onion salad with breadcrumbs on the side (this is my interpretation of it). The guys we were with were laughing at me. They tried to tell me I was eating chicken brain and chicken heart. Most of them spoke English because they had lived in San Diego for a year…cool and random huh?
We had some beer and then one of the guys ordered a shot of cachaca with honey and lemon. Dangerous. Dangerous. Dangerous. It was a delicious shot. I need to buy some and bring it home.
I split a capherina with one of the guys, because he insisted I tried it. I was pretty buzzed. We left around 12:30 and I went straight to sleep. I was exhausted and class started at 715 am today…ugh.
Getting to class was so chaotic. I think this day has definitely been the most eye opening like…o shit I’m definitely in a third world country right now. Starting with the fact I got lost on the way to my 715 class, and ending with my bike ride epic journey across the whole freaking city.
This is what happened.
I stopped and got a sandwich. Then, I went to pick up the bike from one of my student’s house. I biked to Ibirapuera. I found all the places I want to go when Steve gets here (waiting for him, but wanted to see where they were). Then. It happened. I was stuck in a tree filled maze. And no. No i don’t fala Portuguese.
I was literally lost forever. Everytime I asked someone they would tell me something different. One man says izquierda, one girl says derecha. I was freaking out.
I met a guy named Samuel who walked with me for a while, and lead me away from a shanty village (where I was apparently going) and towards Itaim. I kept going down hills and then realizing I had gone the wrong way…with a bike, that sucks, let me tell you.
All I could think of was the irony of if I were to get napped on this particular day. This day, of all days. You probably don’t know why. But I do.
Anyways, I didn’t die (obviously). I found it eventually and I was sooo happy. It was like paradise seeing that familiar building!!
I’m waiting for a class to start now (Brazilians are always late). Tomorrow I’m going to stay in Itaim. I don’t know what I will do yet, but I’ll keep you posted!