São Paulo - City of Walking Dead

Trip Start Nov 05, 2013
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Brazil  , São Paulo,
Friday, November 15, 2013

We arrived into the city around 3pm, and being the savvy travellers we are, booked tickets straight out for the next night and then hopped onto the metro to get to our hotel. We chose a one night stop over as we had just done a 6 hour bus ride from Paraty and couldn't cope with the thought of hopping on another one for 15hrs, plus we wanted to see the big smoke!
Getting off in the city centre for our hotel, we started noticing a heavy police presence. Then a heavy homeless presence... Thankfully our hotel wasn't too far from the metro and we checked in hassle free, albeit with two passed out people on the opposite side of the street and several 'street girls' eyeing Adam up.
Now I've lived in South Africa, Manchester and London, so I'm not naive that there are homeless people out there. Hell I have even volunteered at a homeless shelter and had midnight conversations on the pavement in Manchester, but São Paulo's homeless problem is something else. The problem here all looks drug related as we kept coming across people who were lying in incredibly awkward positions in the middle of the pavement with their eyes glazed. To be honest at first I thought they were dead, but then could see the pupils moving. They reminded me of the zombies from walking dead.... :-S
They have their mattresses out on the street or outside shops, so you feel like your walking into their bedroom as you go past, but this is in the main tourist areas! If I wasn't concerned I would be throttled I would have taken photos of it all, but decided I would portray a nice clean and happy São Paulo in the pictures. This actually was quite hard to not have a 'walker' in a photo...
The park pavilions were being used as a homeless dorm rooms, with mattresses all in the middle and blankets all around and the park ponds and fountains were of course their bathing areas. There is nothing odder than walking through a lovely art market to be met by a man scrubbing his arm pits under a fountain. I should be grateful he's clean though...
As night approached the police presence got so heavy we thought maybe there was the equivalent of a Manchester United vs Manchester city derby going on. Then we were convinced there must be riots happening. We are talking about 6 police all in vests with guns etc every hundred metres or so. With no idea what was going on and walkers seeping into the streets, we scuttled to our hotel room to look on the net at what was going on. Alas this must be normal as nothing was mentioned in the news which is even more concerning, but don't worry our hotel protected us with a nice metal shutter over our window...
The following day we decided to do a very quick tour of the attractions, which thankfully were all close together. There are some very pretty colonial buildings and thankfully the 'walkers' are all to the side of them rather than in front. The city has a lot of potential to show case itself if it dealt with its homeless issue. I do wonder if this city will do the same as China did for the Olympics, which was to ship out all the homeless into surrounding areas and give a better impression while the games are on. As callous as it sounds they have to do something! Your city cannot smell like pee when the Olympics come....
To get out of the city we went to Villa Magdalena, which had been recommended to us by the Chill Inn owner. This area was far more what we are use to and does stress the fact that what you see in the city isn't always what the actual people live in. This beautiful tree leafed suburb had streets filled with alfresco dining with amazing decor. It was a gastronomic delight if we had time to sample each. It reminded me a lot of an area call Subiaco in Australia and Primrose hill in London. I'm glad we made the trip out to cleanse our souls of the walking dead.
We ended up whiling away time in the hotel watching the transgender hookers do their business while we waited to go to the bus station. That in itself was eye opening!
Soon enough it was time to board our longest bus journey so far to Foz Do Iguaco to see one of the 7 natural wonders of the world!

Accommodation:
What can is say, Hotel Calstar... It had a hot shower and was clean. Would have liked a window that we could see out of rather than the metal shutter, although this made me feel very safe. Cheap and cheerful, it did what we asked for it :)

Food:
We had one meal in the city centre which turned out to be a bit comedic, the waiter spoke no English, but was determined to get us into conversation. When he saw us pull out our map started talking, we asked where did he recommend, he took this as we needed glasses and brought us out a pair.
I got the traditional meat, rice, salad, beans and chips offering. Thankfully not too chewy, while Adam got a Swiss dish of beef and potato rosti.
We had lunch in Villa Magdalena where we got the restaurants signature sandwich... Oh my! It was huge, but worth every penny. Set us on our way for the 15hrs bus ride to come :)

Creature Watch:
Zombies
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