A den of thieves?

Trip Start Feb 07, 2006
Trip End Jul 12, 2006

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Flag of Brazil  ,
Wednesday, February 8, 2006

We've had a thankfully uneventful 23 hour stop over in Sao Paulo Brazil! We've been warned many times by other travellers that Sao Paulo is the most dangerous city in the country, and were prepared to be very vigilant.

On the plane ride over, we sat next to Woo, a Korean Brazilian returning home after a year and a half in Toronto. Curious, and looking for someone to reassure me, I asked, "Have you ever been mugged?"

Woo laughed, shook his head (I think in disbelief of the question!) and replied, "Öh, ya, many times!"

A lump grew in my throat when he explained that between the ages of 13 and 16, he was mugged on a daily basis! "They would take my shoes, my backpack, my pen case..." he explained.

"Your SHOES??!!" I was thinking. What kind of a place am I going to anyway??

We were telling him where in the city we were planning to spend our one day and he said he would never go there, that it was dangerous, and there was nothing to see - everything was really old. The thing with being a tourist is - you like to see the really old things! Luc asked, "Isn't there an old church there?" To which Woo replied, "Yeah, it has prostitutes in front of it!"

Again I asked myself, while imagining sketchy characters lurking in every shadow, "WHERE AM I GOING???"

We checked into our hotel and after settling in a bit, decided on a plan of attack. We wanted to go to visit Banespa Tower where we were told we could see panoramic views of the city. With a population of 17 million, it is the third largest in the world.

After much discussion with the limited English speaking staff at the front desk, we hired Vicente, a taxi driver, to drive us downtown so we would not have to battle public transpo on our first day. Being cautious, we left everything back at the hotel in the safe, except for Luc's small digital point and shoot.

What a great day we had! We had a personal tour guide who offered us much entertainment, considering he did not speak English, and my Portuguese is about as good as my Swahili, if you catch my drift! Armed with our trusty dictionary, we were able to learn about Vicente and we gave each other mini language lessons in our mother tongues.

We got to see a good bit of the sprawling, graffiti covered city, and Vicente helped us to find a tall building (Edificio Italia) from which we could view the city. Turns out the one we had originally gone downtown for had a broken elevator and they closed it. The next one we tried was closed because of the rain (??), but you know what they say, ¨The third time´s a charm!¨

In all, we still had a great day! The people we met were lovely and we only have pleasant stories from our stay in Sao Paulo!

Next stop, Paraguay!
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andrea on

Miss you too! I´ll keep ya posted! Hey - write me about your new car!
Love Andrea

andrea on

Glad you´re enjoying it!
Miss you too!

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