Sao Paulo: Smell like riots, poverty and pee....
Trip Start Apr 26, 2013
37Trip End Dec 20, 2013
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Where I stayed
The Beat Hostle
What I did
Riots, SP free walking tour, gun battles and piss smelling streets
Due to the last of our time restraints we only had 5 days to spend in Brazil. We spent our time in Sao Paulo. After five days we were ready to leave....
Our arrival in Sao Paula coincided with an explosion of riots over an a .20 in crease in the bus & subway fares. The riots went from peaceful protests to violent crashes with the police, vandalism and shoot outs. Suddenly protesting seems to have become the new chic'. Everywhere we went there were Brazilians protesting something followed a by scheduled, intentionally violent riot over the bus increase. The violent protests were apparently well organized and when it started you did not want to be around. Tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets were the party favors of the police only to be matched by rocks, spray paint, Molotov's and the occasional knife or gun gun brought by the obliging anarchist revelers....if you believe the news reports.
Police were visible everywhere and stationed in mass in many prime locations.
Don't get me wrong, we made 2 walking tours and traveled all over Sao Paulo central and never felt threatened nor did we feel concerened for our safety.....during the day.
Say Paulo is no place to wander about alone at night especially outside of the the well let and well trod streets. The public transit system, in addition to being raised by .20 is a real pain in the ass and I can see why people are up in arms over the increase. In addition to being over crowded and sporting a 17 to 31% approval rating (better than the U.S. Congress BTW) the public transit system shuts down at midnight weekdays and 1am on the weekends. In concert taxi prices go up 20% as soon as public transit shuts down. In addition, lines to purchase a ticket, which is only one way, are extremely long especially during rush hour. Hundreds of people waiting for 6 ticket windows to open. Only 3 were ever open at any time while we were there.
I would be hacked off too.
However, it does not give credence to a bunch of young jackasses to run amok and deface property and destroy peoples lively hoods then cry fowl and wonder why the police reacted with such a heavey hand. Open protest is welcomed in Brazil. Blatant destruction and violence is not. If you get shot by a rubber bullet because you were throwing rocks at a heavily armed police officer or because you were looting a store or vandelizing a bank or business or were cheering on those who were commiting these acts you should not reacted as a shocked & bewildered victim. You were warned , you got what you deserved.
Many of the 'youth' that we saw with faces shrouded in scarves and bandanas had no skin in this game. They could care less about the issue. They were there to destroy and loot for the pleasure and the rush and perhaps the 'street cred'. If you ask me, if you go in masked , you don't deserve credit. You're just another faceless coward with no adjenda save mindless destruction. You deminish a credible cause or outcry of injustice for the simple pleasure of mindless destruction. You cause more hardship than the general complaint and do nothing to promote social justice. It is destruction for the pleasure of the act, nothing more and it's sad. Sad to witness and such a waste of energy.
Face down a tank, unarmed and face unmasked like the brave protester in Tianamon Square and you have my support. The pissants I saw in Sau Paulo did not deserve the the name protestors. Simply my opinion...but you know what opinions smell like....
Despite all this, we enjoyed most of our time in Sao Paulo....until a bit of reality rolled past our hostel one morning. At breakfast we were sitting in the front room of our hostel, enjoying the morning breeze through the open windows and watching the morning recap of the football and riots. About this time we heard police sirens coming closer.....then a pop or two, random like a back fire but clearly not to a knowledgable ear. Then more....POP.....POP POP....POP-POP-POP-POPOPOPOPOPOP. And the police cars passed by. A flurry of shots in quick succession followed by the sounds of the sirens heading back our way, "pops" following closely behind. By the time they passed the hostile again most people where on the floor except my dumb ass, looking out the window. All in all I estimate somewhere between 30-40+ rounds fired just in the 3 blocks in front of the hostel.
The girl at the desk of the hostel 'swore' it is just a just a police "manifestation" also called a demonstration or practice. The neighborhood locals said otherwise. The police helicopters and road blocks confirmed it.
It was time to leave Brazil. Do we plan to revisit, not really. There are so many other places on the map. Is it a fair assessment? Absolutely not. Upset by my comment? Thank the faceless masses who think its cool to tear things down instead of helping to build them up.
Just my 2 cents. If you come here for a visit perhaps you can convince us to return. I hope you have a convincing argument and deep pockets..... Just saying.
Despite all this there were some highlights!
Beats Hostel. A hostel with great potential
Sao Paulo Free Walking Tours. A really well run and informative tour. It can be a bit on the long side though. The Paulista Avenue tour runs 3 hours, mas o menos, and the Old Downtown tour was 4 hours. Walking. Both tours give a great overview of the city though they often just point out the highlights and you have to actually find your way there to actually see them such as the nat'l cemetery. Still, for the price, it can't be beat and the guides know their stuff.
Parque Ibirapuera. Created as an homage to Central Park it is an amazing park & green space. We had a good chuckle watching the local LARP chapter run through melee drills.
As we were preparing to depart we were warned not to tarry as yet another protest was scheduled right about the time our flight was to leave and it was expeted to shut the city down. Not to worry, Sao Paulo, we are leaving you post hast! And we are not looking back.....
The Getmethehelloutofhere Gelpi's....
Side note: Central/S. American airports.
Seriously, WTF is up with central & S. American airports? Each and every airport we went to was a mess. Departure time was more like the boarding time....sort of. No flight left later than 30+ after the posted departure time. Huge signs in Sao Paulo airport demanded you be at the gate 2 hours prior to flight. We were there earlier than demanded. We were the only people in the airport, only people at security, only people in "Doodie Free", the only people at the gate until about 15 minutes prior to departure time. Not boarding time, leaving the gate time. This happened at every single airport. When in Rome.....