a paulista afternoon

6 Jul

I arrived in Sao Paolo and the temperature was cooler; hoodie weather for sure.  Checked into the hostel with an uncomfortably friendly receptionist, so friendly that I wasn’t quiet sure how to reciprocate, and without a shower to my name, I immediately hit the streets of Brazil’s largest city.

It was Saturday and I wandered through its financial district, which came complete with a fulton type of street martket that offered up bootleg movies and sneakers.

I was in the mood for a gyro, having heard that Sao Paulo has a thriving Lebanese communitiy, and I spent a little while searching for english speakers (so much the better if they were girls) that could point me in the right direction.

That’s where Sashimi and Shortie came in, two girls from Japan and Columbia who were glad to explain to me that unlike in NY where we’re all rather segregated, there’s no ethnically divided neigborhoods in Sao Paolo.

They asked me what I was doing.  I told them I was just wandering around.  And like a tornado that picks up everything in its pth, I joined them for a whirlwind of a ride that took me through the streets of Sao Paolo, one especially cool one, some Arabic food, a night market, a muscician’s house, and some special gifts, and dropped me in the maze that was Sao Paulo’s subway system.

It’s Saturday, sometime at night, I think around ten, and I was teeming with happniess from their special gifts.  Without thinking I get into the first train that arrives.  I’m confident my house is just a few stops away.  But as I sit across from the map, I can’t find any stops that sound familiar.  I can’t figure out why the line I’m on is green.  I thought it was suppose to be blue.

I get out and look for a transfer.  I have a city map and try to put together the pieces of the puzzle.  The subway is full of people.  It’s huge.  Transfers involve complex escalators and walkways.  Some platforms have metal divides, like in amusement parks, to make sure people are reading and willing to board each door right away.  Stragglers will be left behind.

I’m lost.  Confused.  Some stations have a barrier for those entering and leaving the train.  Have to make sure you’re on the right side.  But I’m having fun. It dawns on me that I haven’t been inside a real subway system in months.  Rio’s straight line doesn’t count.   That’s why I got messed up in the first place.

I ask for directions.  Three really ugly girls came to the rescue.  I didn’t realize they were so ugly when I asked for help.  But they are eager to help.  I decide I was the first foreigner they’ve ever spoken to, and they are excited to help.

But I have a moment of clarity – I realize how far I am but assure them I know where I’m going now.  Need two more transfers, and then a solid walk though a sketchy neighborhood.  I’m off, wandering again through this serious maze of trains and stairs. The trains are old, like the Q line of old.  But I feel comfortable, and eventually make it to a stop four dark blocks from home.

I put up my hoodie, and walk the best thug walk that I can.  Needed to ask for directions, still not exactly sure where I live – but I have a good idea and only ask for directions to double check.   Stop to have a salgado, it’s not great.  I finish the night back in the hostel with a round of beers and a game of pool.

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