Friday, March 03, 2006

Sao Paulo - Feb 17th to Feb 20th (4 days)

Wow, where to begin. Actually, I know where to begin since it’s all written down in my little travel journal that I never write in. I just lied down in bed (at 3PM). I’ve been back in Curitiba for just about two hours now and I’m tired as hell. All that flying after getting up at 5AM will knock you out. Not to mention that on the plane from Recife to Rio de Janeiro I was in seat 17B, which means I was between two people; the worst positioning you can have on a plane. From now on, I will only sit on emergency exit rows by the window. Man, all that legroom was sweet (from Salvador to Recife, about an 80 minute flight.) Anyway, I can talk about all that stuff a little later, after I type in these thirty-six pages (luckily the pages are small, unfortunately those 36 pages don’t include my last day in Recife or my day in Porto de Galinhas) of poor handwriting that I may not even be able to read. Everyone should be grateful for my willingness to type all of this right now. All I really want to do is sleep.
Let’s get started:
São Paulo
Feb 17th -
Today I flew out of Curitiba and into São Paulo at Guarulhos Airport. I will never do that again unless absolutely necessary. There was a pointless holdup at customs. They thought we had just flown into Brazil from the US and made us go through customs and the polícia federal when we should have just been able to go through. Either way, at about 10:45AM I met up with Caio and left the Americans. He took me his house, showed me around, and during this whole time his mother made pasta and juice for us for lunch. Definitely awesome of her. I swear I think that Brazilians may be the friendliest people on earth.
After lunch he drove me around and showed me USP, a beautiful campus, and then around the city a little bit. He took me to his work where he is an English teacher. This class actually has only one student, but it was definitely interesting helping her with her English. I really enjoy doing that, especially here. It’s neat knowing people 6000 miles from an English-speaking country want to learn the language. I’m also going to his two other English classes tomorrow and maybe help out.
After all this, we came back to his house and sat around for a little while. Having only slept three hours I was nearly falling asleep on the couch. Oh well, I needed to stay up. A little later we went to pick up his girlfriend Daniella. Then, the two of them, his mother, and myself went to a really good R$20 churrascaria. Incredible all-you-can-eat for $8US? Sign me up!
On the way to get Daniella we passed by the old Carandirú prison. There is some definite guilt and heavy emotion surrounding that place. I was informed that the colonel responsible for the slaughter of all those prisoners received about 650 years worth of sentences. But, much to my surprise, he requested a second trial and only two days ago was released with a not guilty verdict. Quite the big turn-around in luck. Here’s the part where I continue on with something I said I would talk about in a previous post.
If you read what I quoted from Wikipedia, then it will give the reasoning behind the second trial and his imminent release from prison. Caio told me that the truth behind the trial and release is that a rich political group who got the man elected to a political position (while in prison, imagine that). Because of this, a new trial was given and the man was set free. Caio told me that the published reason was that the judge interpreted the verdict the jury had given and therefore deserved a second trial. If he reads this and there is more or I got something wrong, Caio can leave a comment or email me and I will correct it.

Feb 19th – In only the last 24 hours I have seen things I have never seen before in America. I don’t mean obvious things like Autódromo de Interlagos or Museu Ipiranga, but serious real-world things. I do not think that poverty in the US is anywhere near as bad as it is here in Brazil. Even in Curitiba I have seen favelas and plenty of homeless, helpless, drugged-out people. It might even be worse in Salvador, but in a city with 20 million people, you see some pretty effed up things. First let me start off with what is now an art museum that we passed last night. It’s not really worth it to go too much into the history of the US government/CIA takeover of South and Central America in the 60s and 70s last century. Most Americans don’t know and don’t really care to know about it. However, during the military dictatorship in Brazil, which only ended less than 20 years ago, the CIA sent people in to help teach the authorities here torture techniques as a method of interrogation. This place, that is now an art museum, was a place where “terrorists”, such as civil rights activists and protestors, were brought. (Caio if you read this could you tell me the name of the museum and what it used to be called?) They were tortured and often killed here. There is probably a lot more detail that I could find but I’m just summarizing. All of this sounds really familiar to the situation in the US; only we’re “the greatest country on earth” and the greatest example of democracy in the world. What? This is why I tell people that I really enjoy Brazil. As a country and a republic, it is growing and getting better, it’s currency continues to get better (the US’s keeps going down), poverty is on a slow decline as it the rate of violence (poverty gets worse in the US everyday). The US to me and I know to a whole lot of others, appears to be on a very steep slope that continues to get worse. I know plenty of people in the US and have met plenty of people here who know more about the current situation in the US than 85% of the people who live there (which people abroad think should be found embarrassing) who definitely believe that the American empire and American democracy project has already ended, or at least in the near future will end.
Another place we saw was a building that is locally known as “treme-treme”, which means “shake-shake”. Many of the prostitutes that live in this area of São Paulo live here and they (the locals) say at night the place shakes from all the sex that goes on here. It sounds funny until you actually see and witness the incredible, seemingly last resort option, extent of prostitution in Brazil, or at least in the big cities. I rode through the red light district with Caio and Daniella and it is incredible. There are whorehouses lined up and down the street, prostitutes walking around everywhere and people having sex in closed off parking lots, alleys, cars, etc. I learned that many of the prostitutes aren’t even out like this, but when you get certain packets of “tourist information” the majority of the information is just “escort services” and the like. All of the places labeled “American Bar” are actually just whorehouses (it seems weird using that word since it’s never really used anymore but I guess that’s what they are), and strip clubs here in Brazil are really not just strip clubs like the ones in the US. I haven’t been to one here in Brazil (or the US!!!) but several people have told me how they work here. Basically, the girls don’t get tips from lap dances or anything, they rely on someone wanting to take them to the VIP room, which is not just for private dances if ya catch my drift. In summary, strippers here are actually just prostitutes working in a strip club.
Not only are there female prostitutes, but there are a bunch of transvestite/transsexuals, and even male prostitutes (think 175lb Men’s Health magazine cover). These people however, hang out in a different area to avoid any confusion I guess. I think I may have seen more transvestite/transsexual and male prostitutes than anyone else. I definitely thought this was very interesting as I haven’t seen something like this before and it really opened my eyes to what some people’s situation must be like, but in reality it is really very depressing. I guess some people are into that stuff though, but give me a 5’10”, blonde hair blue eye American hottie and I’m good to go.
As for the poverty part, the homelessness here is mad, as is the condition of the favelas and many people’s apartments. People have hillside houses made of paper board and plastic, and I have seen people living under bridges with a little structure made of sticks and sheets, quite often people sleeping on the sidewalk on a cardboard mat and a book bag as a pillow, or on concrete steps to buildings with nothing at all. I have seen small instances of this in DC, Atlanta, Houston, and even in Charlotte, but I can almost say with certainty that the US experiences and has never seen poverty of this type. I saw a building that I believe was called Singapore (Caio, again, correct me if I’m wrong). This was an area that used to have lots of favelas but a mayor decided that these buildings would be his big project, a way to make the city look better I guess. Well, apparently the apartment buildings, which have replaced the favelas, are already worn down and looking just like the places they replaced.
I rode through a neighborhood where there were some of the dirtiest looking women I have ever seen, prostitutes all probably on drugs and with a grab-bag of STDs. Right in the middle of this neighborhood is a police station. One block away from this very obvious police station I saw at least 10 prostitutes (although again, prostitution here is not illegal, just pimping), five drug dealers, and about 20 people sitting on the curb or apartment steps smoking crack, and you wouldn’t believe how many of these were children, all of whom appeared to be 12 or under.


Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usThe sweetness that is Ferrari. Orange F430 here.
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usFree Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usFree Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usI took three shots side-by-side to make one huge picture since I couldn't fit it all in one frame from that close. It's not perfect but you get the idea.

These next few were taken at this grafitti alley in São Paulo called "The Bat Cave." The art here changes every once in a while, so I took some pictures of the ones that I thought were the best and here they are in all their high-res glory.
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usFree Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usAnother one, side-by-side. This one is about as close as you'll get without having a professional take the pictures.
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usThis is supposed to be a woman menstruating, but to me it looks like the woman made a mistake shaving her naughty bits, and in the process somehow cut her head off.
Free Image Hosting at
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usI'm not sure how this guy painted this sideways, but he did a pretty good job of it.
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usNow this guy did a pretty bang-up job with this one. He had everything lined up perfectly. Pretty sweet stuff if ya ask me.
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usAnd a nice pretty flower for whoever wants it.

Edit: For some reason my side-by-side shots aren't showing up right. They might be on your browser but not on mine. Don't really know what to do, sorry :(

No comments: