Sampa sampa sampa

Trip Start Oct 28, 2007
Trip End Dec 29, 2007

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Flag of Brazil  ,
Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I saw PeleŽ waiting for the subway. Well, at first I thought it was PeleŽ. I was glancing around the platform, waiting for my train, when a dude who would have won any PeleŽ look-a-like contest, walked up and stood next to me. It took a second look, a long second look, for my "fatigued from a 24 hour plane flight" brain to decide it wasn't actually the greatest soccer player the world has ever seen. I then tried to reason who it may have been. The best I came up with was that the man I saw was PauleŽ, PeleŽ's younger brother, who despite not being with his brother's soccer skills, also wasn't born with his erectile dysfunction problems. Erectile dysfunction - tough break.

If Sao Paulo, or Sampa as the locals call it, was a girl, to me it would be a girl who at first glance you didn't think was that hot, but she becomes hotter when you spend more time with her. Her personality comes through and this makes up for the fact that she's not a smokin' hottie. I say this because Sampa ain't a pretty city. It's a concrete jungle. An enormous concrete jungle. But the more time I've spent wandering this monster of a place, along Ave Sao Joao, past the Theatro Municipal, towards the Catedral da SeŽ, and down to the Asian quarter (where I found my beloved Korean snack - Peperro, for only 5 times the price of Korea), the vibe of the monster has taken over my body.

Sao Paulo is a monster, a monster with a reputuation - that it's a dangerous monster. Before arriving, I read a fair bit about what to expect, danger wise, and one friend even told me "dude, don't die in Sao Paulo...seriously". I mean sure, the police on streets all wear bullet-proof vests when they are walking about (not sure I've ever seen that before), and sure, more houses than not are decked out with huge fences, sensors, cameras and lights. And sure, the government made it legal to run red lights at night, but does that really mean that Sampa is a dangerous city? Yes, it does I guess. From what people have atold me, in a nutshell all the problems here come from the huge difference between the rich and the poor. As far as my Sampa experience goes, I've yet to see any signs of how this city got this reputation. Yet. That doesn't mean I'll be setting out alone on any late night walks around the city anytime soon.

As much as this vibe has effected me in the few days I've been in Sampa, I haven't been able to shake the feeling that something was missing. There are some wicked, typically Brazilian things here - awesome football teams (Sao Paulo and Corinthians), juice bars on every corner pumping out cheap, freshly squeezed juice, and music seemingly everywhere. But something was missing, something I couldn't quite work out. It was eating at me, like when you hear a song and you know the singer, but at that moment you can't remember who it is, but you know you know. Then it came to me over a glass of orange juice - Sao Paulo needs a beach. Of course, locals don't think so, they love Sampa for what it is. But as a visitor, a Brazilian city without a beach is just alittle less Brazilian. I know the ocean is about an hour away down in Santos, but that's a fair hike. They should build one in the middle of the city - like Brisbane did, but better.

Next stop, Foz de Iguaza....brilliant.
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