Tag Archives: São Paulo

Bubba goes to the fair

Bubba: “Ok, I think I get it now. I come out of the house and go to Sabará, there I turn right, cross the road and take the first road to the left and that’s the fair?

Nujor: “Yeah, just make sure you go to the people on the right-hand side to have your pastel, not the left-hand side. The people on the left-hand side will start hassling you, calling your attention to them, like they do in Morocco or Brick Lane

Bubba: “Oh, ok, so because they are so loud, I should ignore them and go to the people on the left

Nujor: “Yeah, that’s right. Well, at least that’s what I always do

Lanja: “Nujor takes the side of the weak and the oppressed

Bubba: “Oh, and where can I find an ATM near here?

Nujor: “On Sócrates. After your pastel you keep walking until the end of Sócrates…

Bubba: “Ah! The fair’s on Sócrates?

Lanja: “No, the road the fair is on leads onto Sócrates

Bubba walked out of the house, to loud fucken’ barks from Nujor’s crazy fucken’ homosexual dog, and made his way, panting, up-hill to Avenida Nossa Senhora do Sabará. He smelled the familiar smell of toasted ham and cheese sandwiches being cooked at Bienal, the padaria on the left, mixed with the sweet smell of coconut bread and super-sugary coffee. He turned right onto Sabará. The air was polluted as the sun was struggling to shine through the clouds and the smog of Zona Sul of São Paulo. Housewives and maids were out shopping and gossiping. Just the way Bubba likes it…

The people on the left didn’t even look at Bubba as he sneaked a peak at them on his way straight to the friendlier looking people on the right. “Um de pizza, um de frango com catupiry, e um caldo de cana“, he said, in his gringo accent. “Com limão?“, asked the nice lady. “Huh?“. “Do you want lemon in your sugarcane juice?“, asked the lady, in Portuguese, of course. “Ok“, said Bubba. “Would you like to take a seat?“, she asked and Bubba said “yes” and just stood there. “Well, take a seat then…“, she said and pointed to the plastic chairs and metallic tables next to her deep fryer… “Gringo estúpido“, she thought, and smiled to herself…

Soon the pasteis and caldo de cana were brought over. They were delicious. Just the way Bubba had expected. He had had it described to him many times by his drinking buddies all over the world: “You haven’t lived if you haven’t had pastel and caldo de cana in a fair in São Paulo, man!“, was a typical line he would hear on a drunken’ Wednesday night in any Irish pub in New York… And here he was, finally sampling it.

He was also very careful to not get burned. Another drinking buddy, this one he had met in a strip joint in Singapore, had told him how when he first tried pastel, he bit straight into it and got burned on his lips, then turned the pastel around, bit into it again, and got burned again! So Bubba was careful when eating the pasteis. Oh yeah, and he added a little bit of cachaça to his caldo de cana. That’s something that no fucken’ drunk Dutch guy had ever told him to do, it was all his own idea.

He sat sipping his improvised cocktail while thinking how clever he had been. A bit like fried chicken breast with a sliced egg on top. Two different food products from pretty much the same source. A bit like publishing a bunch of academic papers based on ONE idea. That’s not something that Bubba would’ve thought of though, but does it really matter, for the purposes of our story and Bubba’s adventures in São Paulo?

There wasn’t much else happening in the fair. A couple of fruit stalls and one or two people selling made-in-china plastic shite. So, he sat a bit, enjoyed the food and the drink and headed back to Nujor and Lanja’s. Walking back, down Pajaú, minding his own business, a tennis ball fell out of the sky and almost hit Bubba on the head. Bubba picked it up and walked a bit, looking for an opening among the trees to throw it back into the tennis court. As he threw it, a middle-aged woman walking just ahead of him started talking.

Lady: “You should’ve given me the ball. I would’ve taken it home to my dog, ha ha, he he. They’re rich, they’ve got enough balls…

Bubba: “Oh. You should’ve told me…

Lady: “They have enough balls. BLOODY RICH BASTARDS. You know how many balls fall here? They don’t even come to pick them up… they’ve got so many.

Bubba: “Well, you should’ve told me before…

The lady shows Bubba a bag of some powdery stuff: “you know how much I paid for this? 7 reais, for fucken’ flour! My master is gonna have a heartattack…

Bubba: “That’s expensive

Lady: “7 FUCKEN’ REAIS! Fuck me!

Bubba got back to Nujor and Lanja’s house, stuck his head up above the garage door just to piss the fucken’ dog off and then walked in through the front door to watch the maid do her stuff: pick up each item on the bookshelf, remove dust, place back in original position, repeat for next item until there are no more or it’s 6 o’clock: time to go home and do same in own house…

The Bariloche Files

In the travel journal entry from the 15th of June, I’m writing from my daytrip to San Martin de los Andes and the 7 lakes. This was my worse day in Argentina. Probably the only bad day of the whole trip. It inspired the little story, Bubba de los Andes though, and I learned a few interesting facts about the Mapuche and saw some great scenery, but…

It’s interesting how boring the people you meet traveling are. Incredible. It’s a reflection of society. I would’ve expected that people who like travelling are more interesting. Not so. The percentages of boring people are the same as in normal society, in the high 90’s.

How stupid people are. This is also a reflection of society in general, everywhere in the world. The first old fat guy who got off at this first stop, who’s sitting in the first row, decided to stand and stretch once he stepped down off the bus! So everyone else coming from behind had to say “excuse me” and walk around him and prod him to get off the damn vehicle…

Bariloche is a terribly boring little town. Touristic. These fucken’ happy excited Brazilians are getting on my nerves. Where are the crazy, miserable people of Buenos Aires?

What a fucken’ nightmare. What were you thinking Spiro? Why book these bloody excursions? Tomorrow I’m skipping my booked excursion and taking the bus to a nature reserve (Llao Llao) near Bariloche. They said I can spend 3 hours on a hike in there if I want.

I wrote bits for the Bubba de los Andes story, and this line, but it doesn’t really fit in the story:

Bubba can you spare a dime?

The next day at Llao Llao was great and all the above general observations were completely shredded to pieces. I met some really interesting intelligent people. The Australian guy who’s wife was in Buenos Aires dancing Tango and had had enough of the big city so decided to get the bus to Bariloche for a few days to go on hikes like this. He’s a swimming instructor in Melbourne, where apparently, within a 5 mile radius which covers his area of work there are 4 public pools, of which 3 are olympic size 50 metre pools! We hiked pretty much every available path on this little peninsula.

We bumped into a Canadian couple of biologists who had just finished their degrees and were planning, upon returning to Vancouver/BC to apply for further studies. They had been to a wedding in Brazil where the girls cousin had married a Brazilian, in Goiania. According to them the Pantanal was the best part of their trip, but they are biologists, and so were in their element.

The bus stop to get back into Bariloche is at the foot of what is apparently one of the most expensive, exclusive hotels in Argentina. It didn’t seem that luxurious from the outside, but the setting is spectacular indeed. At the bus stop after the hike, our now 4-strong group, bumped into 3 Singaporeans who I had met in the hostel in Bs As. They were also very interesting, very intelligent people. What was that rubbish you were talking about yesterday Spiro? It wasn’t me! It was Bubba!

The girl is a photojournalist and one of the guys a … writing journalist. They were going around Brasil and Argentina taking photos and writing articles which they hoped to sell when they got back to Singapore and cover part of their trip’s expenses. Only a small part mind you, in the best case. They insisted that I had to see the view from Cerro Campanario and so I got off the bus on the way back to Bariloche, together with the Canadian guy from that lovely couple, got on the ski lift and we saw a most spectacular view.

That was my best day in Bariloche and another great day in Argentina. The people I met that day were wonderful, and they were all travellers. I even briefly met another couple on the way to Llao Llao that gave me a tip for a hostel to stay in Mendoza, where I eventually did end up in and where I met a load of locals as well as more travellers. But more about that later…

Back to the current day: it’s Saturday the 12th of June; these are my last few days in Porto Alegre. I’m getting sad. I can’t be everywhere at once though. I’m sure I’m gonna have a great time in Curitiba, where I’m going on Tuesday for a few days, then on to São Paulo again for a day or so and then Penedo in Rio de Janeiro state to spend next weekend. I’ll be in Rio de Janeiro on the 21st July for this, and will fly back to London on the 27th… Boo hoo…

São Paulo

I’ve been in São Paulo for 3 days now and will stay about 3 more. It’s been great catching up with old friends. I’ll write more when I’m back in Porto Alegre next week, as well as about the Argentina trip.

For now all I can say is that São Paulo has changed quite a bit since I last spent any reasonable amount of time here. It’s cleaner with less visual polution and seems to have less dirt on the streets. It has some impressive new architecture (mainly in the Morumbi area from what I’ve managed to see) and is a bit easier to get around than I remember. No, the traffic is worse, but the train system seems to be easier to navigate than I thought. The food is still great, the people are friendly though working all the time, the winter isn’t much of a winter by european standards and it’s fucken’ huge. Whereas in London I usually still think of anywhere as being an hour away, here it’s more like one and a half to two hours away.

Bubba’s fine – keeping a low profile. São Paulo has the ability to make anyone feel small and insignificant, but I bet that if HE stayed here, in about a year he’d have regained his usual swagger.

Folgado, eu?

I’ve got some great friends. Some older, some newer. I’m going to the Catholic University today, with one of my very new friends who teaches there. I might try to meet someone from the Computer Science dept (Informatica), but will probably just have lunch and a wander. Apparently the food there is great. It’s one of those eat as much as you like buffets for around £2.

Had a problem with a cheeky bastard on the plane and was almost arrested, but luckily I had the back up of a bunch of people (fleeting friends) who had witnessed it. To summarise: shitty plane (TAM), limited leg room, he was in front of me and immediately as he sat put his chair all the way back and sometimes I would move and slightly touch his chair. I’m sure his girlfriend had something to do with it (concierge psychology). He was constantly pandering to her whims. She wasn’t even pretty. About 20 mins before landing he decided to say to me: “voçê é muito folgado, which I now understand as “you’re taking the piss”. I asked him why and he just kept repeating “çê é folgado. “What does it mean exactly, I asked in Portuguese, “‘coz I ain’t doin’ anything on purpose and “I’m not from here so I don’t understand exactly what it means. This triggered a response along the lines of “…I don’t know what it’s like in your country… (“no seu pais) to me. I was starting to not feel welcome. A bit like the last time I went to Greece, but that, like this, was just a few isolated incidents with some assholes, similar to this one, but I won’t go into any details now, to spare some of my oldest friends any embarassment 😉

So I stared at him, while his head was turned profile to me and said, in English, “go fuck yourself“. “O qué“, he asked (“what!?“), so I repeated it for him: “go FUCK yourself“. And then things turned extremely comical, although I was quite worked up at the time and was even shaking when the plane was landing… He said he was gonna tell the stewardess. “Go on“, I said, “good“. A few minutes later he told a passing stewardess that I was “muito folgado“. She turned to me and asked me if I can hear what the gentleman is saying. I said that yes, the reason he is saying these things is because I may have touched his seat when I dared to move a bit on this 13 hour flight from Milan to São Paulo. She just smiled and left.

When we finally landed, he made a move as quickly as he could, with his little bitch of a girlfriend to the left and front of the plane. I stood where I was, but forgot my book (“The Torso“) in the seat pouch. So a lady sitting behind me pointed it out to me and then we started chatting. She explained that folgado means someone who takes up a lot of space, relaxed and sort of spread out. Ah, it’s not so bad I thought. Then others joined in, saying that that guy was the real folgado.

While queueing at passport control, the cheeky bastard who was quite a bit in front of me, told the security guard something, then turned around and pointed at me, and said, “that’s him“. The security dude was ridiculous. The questions came thick and fast: “Do you speak Portuguese?“, “Give me your passport“, “What is the purpose of your visit to Brazil?“, “Where are you going to stay?“, (answer: “Porto Alegre“), “What’s the address?” , (answer: “aaaaah…, rua vinte quatro de …“), “The NEIGHBORHOOD!?“, (answer: “Moinhos” (the poshest part of town, like saying Chelsea in London). That calmed him down a bit and we all took a deep breath.

Two ladies who had been sitting to my right and were now just in front of me in the queue, took the opportunity to get involved and help me out. They told the security nazi that I was reading my book through the whole trip and that, if anything, the people behind me kept disturbing me rather than I disturbing that guy… They said that that cheeky bastard was the real folgado. Security dude asked them if they were Brazilian, they said yes, he thanked them, gave me back my passport, I told him the same thing I had told the stewardess and he said: “Ok sir, sorry, welcome to Brazil“.

They kept me at passport control longer than usual, claiming that there was someone else with a similar name who had recently entered the country… etc. Bullshit. Then I had to step into this weird machine that blows some air while you stand there. Very very strange. After I finally got into Brazil proper it was hilarious to see cheeky bastard struggling to collect two trolleys full of baggage at the reclaim, while the girlfriend was nowhere to be seen.

The flight from Milano had been delayed by a couple of hours, so I missed my connection to Porto Alegre, together with a bunch of other people going to a bunch of other parts of the country. They put us up in a posh hotel. So posh, that when I came down for breakfast with my flip-flops on I got some strange looks. Flip flops are frowned upon in Brazil, funny that, given that havaianas are one of their biggest fashion exports. One of my friends here in Porto Alegre got told off at the school she works in for wearing them and now they have even introduced a bye law sort of thing that’s banned them, by law.

I hooked up with some of my oldest friends in São Paulo. It was great to see them. The two things everyone is talking about in Brazil at the moment are Cirque du Soleil and the story of a couple who allegedly killed their child by throwing her from a window in São Paulo.

Apparently anyone’s who’s anyone in São Paulo and Porto Alegre and will go see Cirque du Soleil despite, or maybe because of the price of the tickets (200 to 400 reais = £63 – £126). As for the other story, the most interesting fact for the contributors to this blog is that the husband, having a university education, goes to a special all comforts prison, whereas the wife goes to a common prison with drug addicts, prostitutes etc. The class system is alive and kicking in Brazil and whether you’ve got your flip-flops on when you go see Cirque du Soleil doesn’t really matter, as long as you’ve got a university education.

Went to the swimming pool yesterday. I used a friends card to get in, no problem, but on the way out I got some terrible stares. I think they’re on to me. The pool was nice. Outdoor, heated. Most of the lanes were taken by the swim team, but I had a lane entirely to myself for most of the time. But, I kept thinking, “what do I say“, if someone asks questions about my membership. The card clearly states that it’s non-transferable and I don’t look that much like my friend. Do I say it’s my card, and risk being banned and possibly getting my friend and his wife into trouble, or do I say it’s my friends and I thought I could use it, and act like I don’t speak the language and possibly get my friend and her husband into trouble… etc.

So I’ve decided to play it safe and go there with my not so old, but older than new friend and pay for a months membership, if they’ll take me as a guest. When I was last here they said that it can be done and it’ll cost 150 reais (~ £47 today, but maybe £50 tomorrow), alot of money but at least I won’t be plagued by doubts of whether I am folgado or not.