First Days in Sao Paulo

Trip Start Aug 10, 2006
Trip End Feb 2007

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Flag of Brazil  ,
Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Like Martians we have landed.

Welcomed into the home of Luiza K, Sao Paulo DJ extraordinaire with blond dreads. We were connected to Luiza through Susan´s dear friend KJ Mohr, to whom we are very grateful.

Just our luck that Luiza appears to be the most connected person in South America. ("You want to talk to an anthropologist from Bolivia who lived with rainforest Shamans and wrote the book? Sure, no problem, good friend of mine. I call now." ... "You want to meet Tom Ze (famous Brazilian musician)? Sure, no problem, good friend of mine. We have coffee tomorrow.")

Just a quick note on connectivity: there are many generous people in the world, who are eager to help and share their knowledge, resources, and introduce you to new friends. The network grows.

We have been in Sampa for four days now and have successfully transitioned into nocturnal beings. Most of the lame tourist guides say that Sao Paulo is boring, not worth the visit, and an ugly, crime-plagued city. Heed not this nonsense, fair travelers of Sao Paulo is a vibrant land with more to occupy you than we are able to list here. It is an important center of civilization. Oh - and if you need an Italian cuisine fix, this is your city.

On Monday, our new posse of six people went to the FILE exhibition in Sao Paulo. Matt was in the exhibition, and was very excited to be featured on the big wall, especially after thinking they´d forgotton to list his project. "Where´s my project?" FILE ( turns out to be a key digital art festival in south america. The champagne, therefore, was plentiful.

So far mostly late night DJ parties and settling in... very necessary after the intense 6 months of planning for the trip, Matt quitting job, Susan graduating from grad school, finishing personal projects, packing all belongings to a 10x10 storage space, and tying up loose ends in order to disappear from all that is familiar. But all play and no work make Jack a dull boy. We are excited for our film, and planning much.

Great Vegetarian restaurant: Gaia, in Pinheiros, near Acroverde and Schaumann avenues.

There is much gridlock, so put on your walking shoes - which is a perfect way to explore this city, from neighborhood to neighborhood. Metro and buses available, but fairly limited (and Metro workers today were on strike).

You may have read media reports of four days ago (the day our plane left) where bandits bombed 144 targets throughout Brasil. These narco traffickers view themselves as Robin Hoods of the people out to improve prison conditions and decrease police corruption. The story has layers of history and complexity.

We have been walking a lot. On Day 2 Matt and Susan attempted to walk to one of the major universities in Sao Paulo from Vila Madalena/Pinheiros - about a 3.1 mile hike one way. To get to the university, we crossed a river and walked through a small Red Light District. The prostitutes were very friendly and offered us a smile. Luiza later told us that this group of prostitutes is the first to organize and demand equal rights, security and health care. After passage through this area, we had some "self-service" lunch at a nearby restaurant and headed back to where we came from. After about an hour of walking, we found ourselves crossing the river again, back in the direction of the university and Red Light District. Beware of angled streets, for those of you used to grid streets, and especially for those of you who believe you have an internal compass (like Matt). Susan likes to blame Matt for their circuitous route aka "Why does it feel like we´re walking in a circle? Let´s look at the map, Matt." But Matt says "Don´t listen to what Heather tells you."

Learn Portuguese! Spanish helps, but will only get you so far. And your English is better left back on "the colony" (as Luiza calls the land of gringos).
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