From the Beach to The Big City
22.04.2011 - 27.04.2011 20 °C
So I have been making a big effort to not just stick to the food that I like but to try the different local dishes, one of these being Feijoada in Rio. The meal as a whole was a mixture of meats, which ones don´t ask, rice, something that may have been cabbage and a yellow powder that you sprinkle over it. It was really good, at first, but I think that was because I was incredibly hungry. Acai on the other hand, with some granola, I could eat all the time.
My favourite part of my travels so far has to be the trip into Rochina Favela, one of the 1200 favelas in Rio with 300,000 residents. Just getting up into the favela was a hair raising start, riding up on the back of a local's motorbike on a very steep incline. I'm pretty sure that my guy was watching me in his mirror to see how scared he could make me, yes going head on into buses when I'm in shorts and don't have a helmet does raise safety alarm bells so he was probably getting a lot of satisfaction out of it. If he couldn't see me slightly on edge then I'm sure he could feel my grip getting tighter as we hurtled up. We then walked through the favela to get a bit more of an insight into what it would be like to actually live there, a bit surreal not being able to take pictures in certain places because of drug lords and watchers with guns. You really see how resourceful humans can be if they need to, how you can avoid paying for water or electricity (just steal from your neighbour) and how many houses you can fit onto a small piece of land. I'm not saying that I would ever like to live there, it still costs them an individual's whole months wages to rent a place, but there does seem to be a strong sense of community. With some of their living conditions I guess you can't avoid your neighbour. While walking through our guide introduced us to a man who has just become a grandfather for the second time..........he is 24. No wonder the average number of children per household is 7.
So it was time to move on to the HUGE city of Sao Paulo, a 6 hour coach journey from Rio. Although you pay for the luxury of the coach it's like being on a plane but a lot roomier, you get your lunch etc. and an equally spatious bathroom facility. I was set next to a Missionary who told me to keep my eyes and heart open for God on my journey. I thought this was a nice touch as she didn't start preaching, it did however take about 15 minutes for us to establish this message as her English/my Portuguese were painfully slow. Navigating the Sao Paulo Metro system is surprisingly straight forward, I work well with very detailed maps, so it didn't take me long to get near my hostel.
So far in Sao Paulo I have done quite a few galleries and museums, timing it right so I visit on their free days of course, and went to an amazing exhibition in the MASP. It was called "6 Billion others" and they had interviewed 70,00 individuals from around the world, videoing their answers to 50 set questions about family, love, war etc. They then played many of these videos and had produced a 40 minute film about peoples experience of love, what it means to them, how they show it etc. Pretty shocking the number of randomly interviewed woman that had been forced to marry someone they did not love be it arranged or to escape poverty.
Maybe I really don't go to many galleries or museums back in England but there seems to a whole lot of nudity in the pictures, particularly at the Afro-Brazilian Museum. I'm used to pictures of topless women but not loads of photos of women with their legs splayed open. I can see they were trying to be tasteful but unsurprisingly it was a male photographer- I'm sure it's all for the art and she just happened to be a very attractive model.
Sao Paulo's Asian area, Liberdade, made me feel like I really wasn't in Brazil. It is full of Japanese and all the shops and architecture are of various Asian origins. I loved wondering around the supermarkets, sushi takeaway has to be done. This was followed with a stroll around Se, it has the most beautiful cathedral but with a very creepy looking coffin in the corner and then a walk down Rua 25 de Marco which has loads of stalls and shops. Although I didn't understand what they were shouting I certainly understood that the lady following me, trying to massage my back with one of those electric hand held DIY massagers, wanted to sell me it- or rather she'd taken quite a liking to me.