Perplexing People in Sao Paulo

Trip Start May 21, 2013
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Trip End Aug 10, 2013


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Flag of Brazil  , State of Sao Paulo,
Tuesday, May 28, 2013

As you may have read from my last blog entry, I was rather upset to leave Rio. This was exacerbated by the fact that I left with Croydon on my mind. I'm glad to report that Sao Paulo bares very little resemblance to that part of the world. However it's a city that suffers like a sibling who has cooler, more intellectual, better looking older brother. It's shunned into the shadow by Rio which receives all the limelight amongst the traveller community . Yet for me Sao Paulo is a city which receives undeserved stick. Yes, you need to put in the effort, but it's not the tedious place that I'd come to believe.

My affair with Sao Paulo started out on the wrong foot. I met up with a group of American travellers I was with in Rio, and we created possibly the worst attempt at pasta in the history of mankind. That evening, the hostel owner skipped the planned entertainment of a bar crawl and led us to the Sao Paulo Couch-Surfing community monthly meeting. For those of you that don't know what Couch-Surfing is, it's a community of people that offer their beds in their homes free of charge for willing travellers. Sounds like a great idea. What entailed was an hour meeting the most bizzare and unsettling people I've ever had the displeasure of being in the presence of. I'm sure on the whole the worldwide Couch-Surfing community is sound, but my experience that night put me off for life. Meet Gustavo, a butch Brazilian who took a fond liking to my blonde friend and was intent on interrogating us to find out exactly where we were staying. Or Davide, who stood way too close for comfort and proceeded to cover my face with a large smattering of saliva after every spoken word. And Nilson, a Japanese resident with THE MOST extravagant laugh I've ever heard and who's essentially a real life version of 'The Hangover's Chow. There were many many others too. It was an unforgettable night for all the wrong reasons. I chose to believe that this was not a typical cross-section of Sao Paulo residents, and was proven right over the next two days.

Ironically, this is because the residents of SP are what makes the city. Sao Paulo doesn't have the natural beauty of Rio; it's the epitome of concrete jungle. There are high rise blocks as far as the eye can see. It even fails to offer the attractions a big city should have. The food market and football museum are about only ones of note. Yet there were a whole load of interesting conversations that took place with locals over the last two days I was there. They were friendly and took a real a interest in your life. People made time for you. And best of all, I felt I could connect with them. As one Sampa sports journalist explained to me, the people of Sao Paulo are typically more educated than those of Rio. This is probably why I felt genuinely welcomed in the city rather than just accepted. For those that are put off Sao Paulo by other people's comments, my advice would be to check it out for yourself... It might just have more to offer than you imagine.


After Sao Paulo followed a 15 hour coach journey to Foz do Iguazu, home to the incredible Iguazu waterfalls. These are the only falls I've seen in my life, but I was mindblown by it all. The Niagara and Victoria falls are possibly more famous, but the other travellers I was with assured me they were nothing compared to this. We spent one day on each of the Brazilian and Argentine sides of the falls. We also went white water rafting down the Iguazu river which was great fun. Spending an hour afterwards on the back of a broken down jeep in the middle of the forest whilst soaking wet and freezing cold wasn't quite as enjoyable.

Next its onto the Argentine capital Buenos Aires, one of South America' s biggest traveller hotspots. I'm excited to be heading to a Spanish speaking country more than anything else!

Until next time,
JD
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