The blog is not finished! But after the Theft (yes, capital letters), the want/need to update the blog took second fiddle to dealing with the Theft and just finishing the trip sans computer. Since being home, it's been hard to get that motivation to complete it. But I will. Ever so slowly. Please be patient!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sao Paulo, So Long South America

The following takes place on Days 128-131, Monday, April 4 to Thursday, April 7, 2011.

When I left Rio de Janeiro on Sunday, it was with a heavy heart. Not only because I had fallen in love with the beaches in that city, but also because I came to the realization that that bus ride was my last one in South America. Somehow, before I realized it, I was getting to the last destination on my trip through South America. I felt an odd sense of melancholy about that fact. Even knowing that the next huge stage of my trip was starting soon was not helping me feel better at the time. There was still so much to see, so much to do.

IMG_4359Sao Paulo, the city I would finish South America in, is massive. Hell, saying it’s massive is an understatement. It is not only the largest city in Brazil and in South America. It is the largest city in the entire southern hemisphere. It is almost inconceivably large. And yet, for a city so large, it is strangely devoid of things for tourists.

In its defence, Sao Paulo is much more of the financial capital of Brazil. If you pretend that Rio and Sao are brothers, Rio would be the younger, party all night long brother while Sao would be the mature, stuffy, “Let’s just go to work and make money” brother.

IMG_4442The hostel I opted to stay in was in the Bela Vista neighbourhood of Sao Paulo. Though, it doesn’t seem to matter where in the city one lives. It’s a concrete, skyscraper jungle everywhere. People walk around in suits and business attire. BMWs, FIATs, and other fancy and expensive vehicles roam the streets. It’s not hard to realize you are in a business city.

But even with all the concrete and steel buildings around, there are still massive parks of green to be found. I found a couple within walking distance of the hostel and spent a IMG_4307many hours walking through them. And really, that’s really all I did in Sao Paulo. I didn’t really see any museums. I took no tours. I explored the city on my own, on foot and by metro.

I did get lucky though. Janaiana from the Salkantay Trek back in Peru lives in Sao Paulo. Through Facebook we kept connected and agreed to meet up again. Herself and her friend Krista(from Estonia) took me to a local Couchsurfing meeting one night and to a Samba Rock dance class on my very last night in South America. Samba Rock is a dance specific to Sao Paulo. It is danced to music we would normally dance Jive or East Coast Swing to. The combination of that, and not being able to understand the instructor(he was speakingIMG_4494 entirely in Portuguese) made learning it difficult. I kept wanting to revert to the dances I knew! It was a lot of fun though.

The day I left, I spent the day in the neighbourhood around the hostel. I got a haircut, had some lunch and packed my bag. In the end, I spent the last hour or so before catching the taxi to the airport playing Mario Kart on the Wii at the hostel. I kinda kicked ass, but only because the Swiss and French guys I was playing against had never played on a Wii system before.

And one last comment. While I was used to the entirely relaxed attitude of Brazil and South America, especially when it comes to cashiers(My friend John H. would have a fit if Tim Horton’s or Starbucks took this type of attitude. Slow is an understatement), the slowness at the airport was the worst I’d ever seen. From checking in to baggage drop, to security, to immigration, it took over two hours. Thank goodness I got to the airport four hours before my flight.

Goodbye South America. I will be back.

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