Big City, Sao Paulo

Trip Start Apr 05, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Brazil  , State of Sao Paulo,
Friday, September 3, 2010

Sao Paulo is really a big city, more than 3 times the size of Paris, 11 million people and in the metro area even 20 million. 

As I knew Sao Paulo would be on my path again later in this trip, I took my time to explore this, no rush. (the way I love to explore cities! spend an afternoon in a park or local coffeeshop)
I didn't see the center yet, but instead I visited the pretty and fancy area with (very) expensive shops, and wandered around in other neighborhoods.
Suddenly, I came across a city-park, and it was like a jungle! Palmtrees and many kinds of bushes and other vegetation that looked like it came straight from the rainforest. Very sureal to walk around in it, you feel like you are in a jungle, but are only in a citypark in Sao Paulo.
I couchsurfed at 2 different places, first with Romy, who took me out with her friends to a very cool bar/club with live music (and they have caipirinhas with fresh fruits! delicious with strawberries). 
Then I stayed with Leticia and her family, which was also great, I joined them for lunch and the mom is a lot of fun, she loves having guests and is no doubt facebooks biggest fan.
Leticia was very nice and I am really planning to hang out more with her if possible when I cross Sao Paulo again, she joined me in the quest to find the cheapest airline ticket to travel to the north of Brazil (as it is cheaper than taking the bus). We spent some time in the shopping centers, which are everywhere in Sao Paulo (generally Sao Paulo is a GREAT city for shopping) and gave me an odd feeling of being home, reminding me of the USA.
Generally it feels like I am back in the Western world, Brazil up till now reminds me much more of the USA than Belgium ever did. But if course I am aware of Brazil's 2 faces. The gaps between rich and poor are rarely bigger anywhere else, and with couchsurfing and the places I've seen until now, I have been staying nicely in the middle class zone.
Bastien told me only 3% of the people went to university. Bastien? Yes! Bastien! I met up with him and we had a great lunch, as it happened to be restaurant week, so we could go to a high class restaurant for a soft price.
Bastien was a very good friend of mine in New York, when I was living there he was also, and he was the heart after the NY Couchsurfing scene. Now he moved to Sao Paulo with his girlfriend, so it was magical to see him here. I enjoyed every second!

So although Brazil is so modern, it also has huge huge poverty. And beginning October it's voting time! Just like in Belgium, voting is obligatory. Which is odd when you think about it, that such a big part of the people probably don't even have TV, so how gets the voting propaganda to them? How to they choose?

Anyways, time to travel on, after 3 days Daniel and Eduardo picked me up for the last bit of the 3500km ride I got: up to Brazil's capital, Brasilia!


The language is beautiful, so enjoy listening to it everywhere words crossed my path. But it is crazy hard to pronounce as they make nasal sounding vowels, which are very hard for me to repeat. I do think Brazilian Portuguese is the most beautiful language I ever heard. In a way it is similar to Spanish, but then again not, because when I try to just say a Spanish sentence with a Portuguese accent, my speech partner looks at me as I am a green alien with 8 tentacles. It is also similar to French, more than Spanish is I would say, maybe especially because their "r" is the same. This is such a beautiful language! It sounds like poetry, just the sounds. And art, with all the special pronunciations mixed. I am very intrigued!
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