The bus trip from Buenos Aires to São Paulo seemed never-ending. The first 20 hours were fine, but by that time I had finished my book and a Portuguese phrase book I had bought before leaving. I was thus forced to watch obscure American movies dubbed into Portuguese and admire the scenery. Those last 20 hours were trying. I made a little video of the trip if you are curious, check it out:
Once I arrived in São Paulo I met up with a young man, Sahil, who was also going to the same WWOOF farm as I was. The owner of the farm happened to be in São Paulo to run errands and to see her family. She suggested that we stay in the city for a few days so that we could drive to the farm all together. Sahil and I staying in a hostel for a night and thankfully found a couchsurf host for the other three nights. We found that São Paulo was the most expensive place either of us had been to. The going rate for a night at a hostel costs twice as much as any other city and the food is expensive to boot. However, São Paulo is an incredibly impressive city! I was blown away by the security in the streets, the cleanliness of the sidewalks and parks, the beauty of the architecture, and the courteousness of the citizens, given the sheer size of this beast of a city!
After Mexico City, São Paulo is the most populous city in Latin America. There are skyscrapers as far as the eye can see, a very efficient subway system that gets you everywhere in the city in no time, and food vendors and restaurants that sell all sorts of cuisine. There are also tons of couch hosts and I happened to find a very sweet and generous host who ended up driving us around, taking us out to restaurants, and letting us hang out with him and his two adorable kids.
First stop: the central market. As I’ve said before, the market is a delicious place to get a glimpse of a culture. The Mercado Municipal de São Paulo is beautiful, clean and organized, but is priced for tourists. All the tropical fruit, which as you know excites me, was prohibitively expensive! I went for lunch and had the highly recommended pastel de bacalao, kind of like a fried empanada with a cod, green onion and olive filling. It was very salty and not as delicious as the cocada I had for dessert: a confection made of shredded coconut and burnt sugar.
Second stop: public parks. First we visited Parque da Agua Branca, a park that hosts an organic farmers market every Saturday morning. After picking up some Brazil nuts, bananas, and veggies to cook for dinner, we headed over to Parque do Ibirapuera, the Central Park of São Paulo. The park was full of people biking, rollerblading, walking, jogging, perusing the museums, and just chilling out around the lakes.
Third stop: concerts. It just so happened that we were invited to two concerts while we were in São Paulo. The first was the best. After eating a scrumptious sandwich at a popular paderia, literally bakery but more like a diner, we drove to a little brick building that was mostly unoccupied except for a large room with some spotlights and white, plastic chairs. Several Brazilian friends had gotten together to play Chorinho, old school, popular Brazilian music, mostly acoustic. They were playing by memory, playing any requests and improvising the whole time. I never stopped smiling form the moment I walked in to the room. The next night we went to listen to what I would call the modern version of Chorinho, more influenced by jazz, again at Parque do Ibirapuera.
Our visit to São Paulo was fast and furious, and I was excited when the time finally came to leave for the farm. I love that I was able to visit São Paulo and I am incredibly thankful to our couchsurf host for letting us stay at his place for free and showing us around. Now I am at my new WWOOF farm, about three hours North of the city. Stay tuned for an introductory post!