So I've met up with Alexandre in the marvelous fantastic São Paulo for the weekend! (Remember that he's here for residency reviews.) I moved my afternoon classes to earlier days in the week in order to get the late-morning bus to The City. I decided to dress up a bit, since it would've been a whole week since Alexandre saw me. (I cheated and wore flip flops on the bus ride and brought heels in my bag.)
So my bus dropped me off smack in the middle of Friday night rush hour in Barra Funda, one of the biggest bus terminals in the second biggest city in the world. Alexandre, ever helpful, shouted into his cell phone, “I'm at the entrance to the metro station! Meet me here.” Thank you, Alexandre. Barra Funda is nothing more than a long-distance bus station, a municipal bus station, a long-distance train, and a metro station all packed into one crazy crowded place. But after a quick (paid) potty break and shoe change and only a couple of turn-arounds, I started seeing signs with arrows that said “Metrô," and I figured it out and found Alexandre (yay!).
My first lesson of the evening? São Paulo public transit at rush hour is not for the faint of heart. Or for people wearing heels and carrying a duffel bag. (The heels lasted exactly one metro ride before I switched back to the flip flops. Cute outfits be damned!)
We had to take the red line (the worst one) and transfer twice and THEN take a bus for about 40 minutes to Alex's sister's apartment. The wait for the red line was a cattle-crowd mess. Pushy and stinky and everyone complaining. I felt overdressed. Things got progressively better as we got away from that first stop and toward the sister's house. But when all was said and done, the commute took 3 hours!!! (At least the sister leaves for the weekends and we didn't have to come back here and deal with her.)
Don't worry, minha Sampa querida. I still love you. But your second lesson has been learned: If we end up moving here next year, we will live within walking distance of a metro stop and Alexandre's hospital, and then I'll either continue to teach from home or find something that is equally easy to get to. None of this 3-hour commute nonsense.
We walked to a sushi restaurant on Friday night (yay!), slept in on Saturday (today), and then proceeded to spend most of the day doing what I always do in São Paulo: losing myself in bookstores. I splurged a bit, like on a new Barbara Kingsolver book and on Ingrid Bentancourt's memoirs (and some others). FYI, Paulistanos: The bookstore Fnac is having a sale on English books!
Great things we saw in São Paulo this weekend:
- a man in a favela flying a kite
- an older woman wearing super tight pink pants, a white tube top, and with her hair dyed blonde with pink tips
- lots of openly gay couples (so refreshing!)
- a guy playing the saxophone on the street
- A bank with a cultural center inside
- A mall with a little museum inside (though I'd seen that before; it's on Avenida Paulista)
- an old lady watching a novela episode on her cell phone in a cafe
- other foreigners!
But super exciting was meeting up with fellow blogger Bruno and his lovely lady, Ellen, for dinner and dessert! What great company. Our blogs don't do us justice! We are just too cool for our own words. The four of us had a great time swapping cultural stories. A real United Nations. Ok, more like the Breakfast Club of the United Nations, which makes us even cooler.
Tomorrow is a mysterious mountain expedition with Bruno and Ellen, a possible meet-up with dear buddy Bruna, and then my long bus ride back to Caipirópolis. Pictures to come pending better internet connection speeds.
I'm ready to live here noooowwwwww –