The winters in São Paulo are quite bizarre. One day you are slowly melting under a blazing and unforgiving Sun and the next day you find yourself reading-up on how the Inuit’s of Greenland combat freezing temperatures; in a desperate bid to create some body heat.
You see the houses of São Paulo, are designed to be cool. They are designed for the summer. I think it’s a similar situation with Brazilians: they weren’t designed for winter or cold weather and especially not the rain.
After being in Sweden for a year I was always fascinated at how England would literally shut down upon being showered with several centimeters of the white Christmas stuff, but when the skies open up in Brazil, society goes into some sort of coma; “But why didn’t you go to school”? “We don’t have it….obviously, because of all the rain”.
It was during one of these ‘end of the world’ days here, that I chose to take a rather ambitious ride on São Paulo’s public transport system. I would be traveling about 22km, which really doesn’t sound like much, but in a city as dense as Sao Paulo, I would give myself about 2 hours to arrive at my destination.
The plan was to arrive whilst enjoying the following everyday São Paulo experiences:
x 1 City bus – seated to enjoy the passing views.
x 4 Metro lines – fast, efficient and effective way of bypassing the everyday bus traffic and rush hour.
x1 Pao de Quejo- typical Brazilian cheese bread and very nice Padaria
x1 Stroll along quiet and pleasant neighborhood before arriving at destination.
It was a nice plan don’t you think? But plans in Brazil are a lot like deserts in the Faeroe Islands….they don’t exist.
Instead of plan A, by day became an a experience of partaking in the following cultural experiences (voluntarily or not):
x 1 City bus- standing; to fully appreciate the elevation felt on driving over a speed hump at 40 km an hour
x 6 Metro lines (2 repeated)- it turns out when it rains one of the lines is deemed “unsafe” or as one attendants broken English described it “Not really a very good idea for people wanting to see the afternoon”.
x 1 City shuttle bus to the wrong location
….x 1 very long walk back to the correct location
x 2 very persistant street vendors, certain that my life would be complete on purchasing their ice lollies….well, at least some folks weren’t letting the cold and rain get in the way of their business.
x 1 very wet set of clothes
x 1 Pao de Batata – which when given a chance is probably very decent edible, but when expecting a very different first bite, somehow majorly disappoints.
x 1 very long walk on realizing the street with my destination has 1,500 houses, the destination I am after is number 1,372 and I am starting out at number 10….
I used to think I could only ever dream of the triumph one would feel on reaching Everest’s peak or maybe touching foot on the moon or maybe even beating the record for consuming 16 hotdogs (and buns) in under a minute, currently held by the finish Jacob Olsenhassonvessenlingenberg. But after surviving São Paulo’s public transit system and living to tackle it another day, I may have come within touching distance of shear delight and personal ecstasy dear Jacob was able to appreciate…minus the extreme stomach cramps.
But like with every tale and adventure, comes a very well learnt lesson and this one I will choose to share.
Should you ever wish to learn a new language in record speed; visit that country, embark on it’s public transit system and choose a destination on the opposite side of your chosen city and get ready to become fluent.
Every day in this country is an adventure, a journey and a privaledge and I end each and every one with a big smile on my face.
N.B. The hard stuff comes next: this was to update you with more of a day to day experience