I think we walked a jazillion miles today. Probably more like six miles, but we were on our feet the entire day. Don´t get me wrong; I´m having a great time, but I just want to pass out right now.
Anyway… for those of you who don´t know, today is Corpus Christi, a major Catholic holiday, and therefore a major Brazilian holiday. So, we had the day off from school, got to sleep in, spent the whole morning relaxing and writing in our journals (the pen and paper ones), and then went to Parque Ibierapuera – basically São Paulo´s version of central park. We had to walk about two miles to get there, because there are no subway stops anywhere near the park, and we didn´t want to deal with the stress of figuring out how to use the bus system. The park was crazy, crawling with people, no maps anywhere, and giant sidewalks twisting their way across acres and acres of giant trees and sprawling lawns. We wandered aimlessly, found a buffett style restaurant, wandered aimlessly again, found a modern art museum, debated about whether to spring for the expense, decided to go for it, found out it was free for the day when we asked where to pay, and then walked all the way back to the subway (two more miles). That pretty much brings us to now.
Points of interest were:
(1) All the skyscrapers! We´ve never been this far south in the city before and STILL the skyscrapers go on forever and ever. This city has no skyline like New York or Chicago because it just keeps on going. Imagine standing on a hill looking twenty miles into the distance and all you see is skyscrapers, clear up to the horizon. Then you pick out the biggest one on the horizon, walk to it, and STILL all you can see is more skyscrapers all the way to the next horizon. This is such a different life. It´s crazy!
(2) The rollerbladers. Although rollerblading seems to have been an early 90´s fad in the U.S., it´s still going strong here. They were everywhere in the park. And in supermarkets! They have staff rollerblading all over the store! As we were leaving the park, this bus came roaring down the street, and I just happened to glance over as it passed us. Four men on rollerblades were clinging to the back of this bus that was going at least 30mph in heavy city traffic! Nuts!
(3) The coconut novelty. We always see vendors selling “coco water” on the streets, but we´ve never braved the stress of trying it. Well, today we did! The catch is, the aren´t brown, hairy coconuts. They´re giant greenish-yellow fruits the size of your head. They hack off the tip until just a tiny opening is created and then stick straws in. We were dissapointed because it didn´t taste like anything, but it was still neat!
4) The wild Amazonian trees. Not just in the park, but all over the city, there are these strange trees with smooth bark and giant leaves the texture of an aloe vera plant. The craziest thing about them is the root system. All the branches sort of sprout roots that just start growing in midair until the reach the ground. Once it reaches the ground, it goes into the soil, so you end up with an exoitc tree looking like it surrounded by stalacties (cave formations).
5) Vending machines of literature: In almost every subway station there is a minimum of one book vending machine. What a novel idea! (no pun intended.) You put in your money, select A4, and then start in on the DaVinci Code.
6) The women here. Women here are astoudingly small. Not just skinny, because they don´t really have that starved-Kate-Moss look. They´re just teeny. I would say 30-40% of them can´t weigh more than 100 pounds, and another 30% can´t be more than 115/20.
Anyway… onto yesterday. Or back to yesterday. Or whatever. I just want to catch up.
Monday night after class we went to this huge bookstore to buy a pocket Portuguese/English dictionary. When we picking one out, this guy standing next to us looking at English grammar books tried to ask us if his book was a good one to buy to learn English. But since we don´t really speak Portuguese, and he wasn´t fluent in English, we had to struggle to understand each other. Well, I thought, if he wants to learn Eng. and we want to learn Port., why not invite him to dinner and practice! So we had a very intresting, some what difficult, but really fun evening of trying to make ourselves understood while eating at a wonderful pizza buffett. One of the best meals we´ve had since we´ve been here!
On Tuesday we were supposed to meet up with him again, but we still hadn´t gotten an email back from him by 5:00 when class was over, so we just decided to walk home before it got dark. Like I said, Tuesday was Brazil´s soccer game against Croatia, which was going on during our walk home. The whole walk was like one of those dreams you have when you wake up and you´re the only person left in the world. Even the HUGE avenues… like 5th Av. in New York, or the Golden Gate Bridge, or downtown Chicago… were completely deserted. Except every once in awhile you´d pass an entrance to a bar or something and there would be lots of people packed around a television set screaming. And there were lots of random barbecue grills on corners not being tended to, but still cookin´up a storm! When we got back to the centro, we realized why everyone thinks its such a scary place. All the people who care about soccer were somewhere else watching the game, which left just the homeless folk who have bigger problems to worry about.
Oh… we just got told the internet place is closing. Well, closed five minutes ago. Guess I´ll write more tomorrow!