Brazil, The Beginning

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I admit it.  I have been a completely lax travel blogger over my last couple months or so of travel.  I am quite prolific at procrastination.  I have several stories to share from New Zealand and all along the Banana Pancake Trail in Southeast Asia, but got really far behind with my blogging while on the road.  Now that I am planning on being slightly more settled, mostly staying in one spot in Brazil, I will be able to catch up on my posts and share them with you.  I’ll also try and make more current posts, hopefully weekly at least, from here in Brazil.

I am now in a phase of my trip that should take on some new excitement for me both personally and professionally.  This is the chapter where I have gone to Brazil for a somewhat undetermined amount of time to develop fluency in Portuguese and hopefully find a new career for myself that involves an international aspect.

I have to admit that I felt really intimidated coming here to Brazil yesterday even though I have been to this country before.  Last year, four friends of mine and I visited São Paulo, Florianopolis and Rio de Janeiro during Carnaval.  I think some of my fears were worrying about how my story will unfold, lots of questions running through my mind: Will I be able to find my way around the monster of a city that is São Paulo; Will I inadvertently find myself in some dangerous neighborhood/situation? Will I be able to get by with the limited amount of Portuguese that I know?  My first day of travel here has given me some confidence though.  I found it really easy to walk around and it was great seeing some of the familiar places I saw with my friends last year.  I’m staying one night in the Bela Vista neighborhood at an inexperience yet wonderful pousada which is walking distance to frenetic Avendia Paulista, the MASP Museum, Trianon Park, the Jardins neighborhood and posh Oscar Freire.  The area is really upscale and safe and I enjoyed simply walking around.  Bela Vista is a beautiful neighborhood situated on a hill rising above Avenida Paulista.  It retains some charming older row homes that have not yet been torn down to build skyscrapers, which are simply unavoidable in highrise-heaven (or hell) São Paulo.  Bela Vista was traditionally an Italian neighborhood, so of course it has some excellent restaurants.  I had lunch at Cantina Mamma Celeste and enjoyed a mouth watering risotto with gorgonzola and hazelnuts.

I spent the rest of the day wandering around the area near Avenida Paulista.


The MASP museum, housed in an extremely modern looking building, was free of charge today, so I was able to go in and observe priceless works of art by Monet, Picasso, Manet, Degas, Matisse among others.  There appears to be a strong police presence in the area and some protesters seem to gather in the space underneath the museum.  I wandered down Rua Pamplona to Rua Oscar Freire, which is São Paulo’s version of Rodeo Drive. A local, who gave me a map of the area, penning a big dollar sign of the Jardins neighborhood summed Oscar Freire up as follows: “You can go down to Oscar Freire and buy a Calvin Klein shirt for R$250 … which of course you can probably get in the United States for much less.”  I decided to wander by the storefonts, not intent on purchasing anything.  While in the surrounding area, I stopped for coffee at Cafe Suplicy for a latte.  It was Starbucks expensive, but tasted a whole lot better.  I made my way back up to Bela Vista, passing through Trianon Park, along Avenida Paulista, and up the hill, in the dripping rain and distant thunder, which seems to be the usual summer weather here in São Paulo.

It was nice to experience São Paulo on my own today.  It has given me some confidence that I’ll be able to survive and actually enjoy this city.  I also found myself speaking Portuguese quite a bit and didn’t do too bad.  I don’t think I said everything right, but I was able to be understood and understand in most situations without having to resort to English.  Tomorrow, I’m heading to Florianópolis to spend some days at the beach with great friends from both the United States and Brazil.  I’ll be traveling for about a month in the south of Brazil.  Stopping here even if just for a short while has made me excited about coming back here to stay for a longer period of time.

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