Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Brazil Day 60 (seriously)

After spending an hour of every Wednesday night in traffic or on a bus driving far too fast (think the movie Speed); I was determined to use the subway to get to the far side of town brought on by the recently read informative blog by one of the foreigners out here who had ridden this newly opened stretch of underground track. I was excited and was willing to walk the half mile or so total required to get to and from the house and final destinations from the metro. The normal routes on the metro here are convenient, reliable, and fast. They aren't incredibly dirty. A good mix of the population use them who are teaming with personality. The billettes cost about R2.65 which equates to about $1.48. Bargain.

I get going and get off at my first stop and go visit some new friends and future coworkers. Great.

I climb back down to connect to the newest metro stop on the yellow line- Feria Lima which.

But to my surprise and disappointment, the passage way from Consolacion to Paulista metro stations closes everyday at 3pm. At first not understanding, my thought was "Hey there isn't a World Cup game today..this thing should be open". For some reason the yellow, a major subway line, their newest one, is actually closed on a busy weekday. There were not postings, just three metro workers that basically said in a friendly way- "tough luck that's Brazil for ya".

I ate the R2.65 and made my way through the crowd, surface, and seek out the bus another 5 minutes walk away. I waited for the onibus that had my destination written on the side and hopped on. I squeeze onto a bus where patrons are pressed up against one another, probably because the subway is not up after 3, and those entering pay the turn stall guard and move to the back and find a seat or railing to hold on for dear life. People are quiet. Its hot. One woman offered me unsolicited help recommending that I exit the other side of the bus at the next stop, but I wasn't yet getting off. 10 minutes after entering, due to the unique addition of bus lanes here and there- all over the city, I was at my destination and on time. No parking fee. No traffic holding me up. Only slight hassle. This was easy.

On the way home I try to buy gum and all I have is a large bill and no one is accepting it. I was reminded of a commercial I had seen previously where a man is shown time and time again given candy, a pile of coins, or like me, just plain refused when paying with a larger bill. I had not yet experienced this. After three tries I realized it was useless and boarded the onibus. It was a direct route to my closest metro station. Great news. If only the turnstile guard would accept my R50 bill. He didn't. He brushed me off and I took my place next to his booth in a nearly empty front section of the bus while the back was full. I asked a few times in my caveman portuguese "Why can't I pay", knowing the reasons from the comical commericals. The slender young man with nicely combed soft light brown hair looks at me and repeats, "Só cinquenta" or "Only R50". But yet, he wasn't kicking me off. Confused again, I tried to make sense of this, explaining to him that my "Portuguese is few" and he began to warm up, he was no longer this vender of NO's, he told me I "could get off soon", this become more confusing.

I continued to practice the language and we got to talking. He is a 22 year old who lives in the southern part of the city, prefers it to the center because it is a bit slower paced. As the bus stopped intermittently to let passengers on or off, he carried the conversation, never breaking focus. He continued to talk as he collected exact change and passenger's cards were being swiped. This was very much his turf. He continued talking about his trip to London, and sentiments of Brazil, the language, and asked me about LA; we had been talking for 20 minutes. In the end, he signaled to the bus driver, using a screw nut tightly fastened to the railing of the bus by a rubber band, and the bus driver opened the front doors and I exited unquestioned. I tapped on the glass to thank him and he replied with a smile and thumbs up.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Pri the wonderdog

I'm totally into my little roommate.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Day 50: Oldest church in São Paulo mass (flashmob)

Walked out of the mass this morning and found another kind of mass.

About 1000 in number skating for 20 minutes then moving on by the sound of an air horn. Brilliant! Look closely for the acid drop off the monument.

Friday, June 18, 2010

São Paulo Gay Pride Parade

São Paulo shut down its main drag Avenida Paulista to celebrate Gay Pride. This annual parade is one of the largest Gay Pride events in the world. Hundreds of thousands swarmed the parade lanes to cheer the parade of sound trucks and celebrate the day.

These dance venue sponsored trucks successfully molded the city center into one massive dance party where the young people came to get their groove on and support the gay community. It seemed straight and gay alike were in attendance to dance and sweat it out with beautiful glittered drag queens and kings peppering the crowd like the royalty they are. Mind you, this wasn't the festival of roses; each themed parade truck was armed to the teeth with the latest mixes, Lady Gaga, and Kylie Minogue types pouring from the 3 meter high wall of speakers.

Paulistanos hugged the corners to get a view, dance away their cares, or find romance or lips to lock up with. Most came for the fun, music, and to support their friends- all celebrating.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010


In Brasil, soccer is something else. Before the game -pardon me- the match- the streets are packed with cars, people in their yellow, green, and blue jerseys sporting their favorite players but mostly coming together to represent their players, their favorite sport, and their home. Walking down the street on the way to our local bar we could smell and hear the familiarity of a party. The sound of far off explosions of fireworks, people singing Brasilian anthems, those plastic horns, the airhorns too, and the flags of various sizes and shape painted on faces or draped from scattered windows in various buildings and cars greet us as we push through the city. Men pedal these flags at the traffic light. He sells them with honor.

This is not like the super bowl where two cities battle it out and loads of people sit around on a Sunday eating their chips and drinking their beer and cheering a team that doesn't belong to them(hey I'm from Los Angeles) But this is for the entire country. People take the entire day off, leave early, close down their restaurant, which was our case,and host their friends or meet up wearing their Brazil gear, sweater, or colors.

On the way to the restaurant cars were honking with anticipation and cheering our their windows. VAI BRASIL! It's beautiful. People are happy. Together they are all happy.

Arriving at the restaurant we see a group of 15 or so already starting the party. Beers in hands talking about the expectations for the game. My friend Felipe and I make a bet that if Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) or DPRK make a single goal he will never smoke again after today. I hope Brazil wins. I know it will happen, but I don't think DPRK has a chance in hell of scoring on this monolith of a team so he takes the bet.

Comencou: it started. This is exciting. When a team is seen playing together for the first time you can see how timid they are regardless of how professional. These players don't typically play on the same team as each other; as they play in their different leagues throughout the year. How could Brasil be playing both timidly and dare I say, with a bit too much confidence? Well Korea played solid defense at the beginning although I wasn't sure if it was because Brasil was finding their rhythm or if Korea was on it. I soon realized that Korea, though they fight hard, didn't have much for offense and my hopes of Felipe quitting his habit were lost.

Watching fans when their player is preforming poorly is one of those things I just like seeing. Hearing them shout horrible obscenities and insults at somebody that later on could potentially win the game brings a bit of clarity of how brutal fans can be.

The most incredible however, and I wish I had video solely of this, were the fan reactions to the missed opportunities of the players on the screen. The tense shoulders. The clenched fists. The look as if they had eaten a sour lemon express the disdain, disappointment, and loss of the opportunity. The sounds that follow follow like a wave of cresting voices rising "YES! YES! YES!" to the low and baritone AAAHaaaoooo of the missed shot paired with hands covering eyes. slapping their knees, shaking of heads, and in worst cases head in hand, or my personal favorite: Hands pressed into their hair. Incredible. Such drama and such sport.

Well the game was a hard fight all the way. Brazil had to work hard for their win. The first half was scoreless, but in the 10th minute of the second Brazilian Maicon shot from the most ridiculous angle and the ball went straight and curved into the far corner of the goal. A miracle? No. I have seen youtube. These guys do these sort of tricks all the time. I am impressed he could pull it off when the game was on the line-when they were at risk of a draw. Another 8 minutes later Elano doubled the score and Brazil doubled their lead.

But then when I thought my hopes were lost, in the 89th minute, DPR Korea, the boys from the North, got their goal! Ji Yun-Nam scored and single handedly put Felipe to the test. He will be a non-smoker from here on out.

Brazil 2- Korea 1 Felipe + or- 1

Friday, June 11, 2010

Copo do Mundo The World Cup

Today is the first day of the World Cup that supposedly shuts down office buildings, blinds all who see with bright yellows, greens, and blues. Today is the beginning of something new- a global love of soccer, futbol, or here pronounced "footchieball". I wait today with immense anticipation for opportunities to see an entire country's passion for a sport that unifies, loves, and pretty much stops this country flat during game time. I am strangely excited, fearful, and curious as to what will commence. And mostly...I just hope Brazil wins.