When I first landed in Brasil at GRU, the taxi driver drove us through the center of Sao Paulo and into Campo Belo. When I first posted that Brasil is similar to Hawaii and Europe, I mainly mean the beach cities, the climate, or the upper class neighborhoods. Lower class neighborhoods are much more akin to the neighborhoods you find in LA. Bars on the windows, out croppings of graffiti, and hordes of citizens walking to their various destinations. So for the most part, I’m not too taken aback. Sure, if I had moved from Wyoming or a nice city like Dallas, Brasil would have been a cultural shock. But I lived in downtown LA and went to church right in the middle of Korea Town. Shifts in culture, cityscapes, and safety of zones changed from one street to the next – turning right off of 7th to the Flower District takes you to Moskatel and the Flower Mart, turning left takes you into a street so crowded with bums you can’t drive down it without feeling like you should shower. Brasil’s subtle changes are exactly the same. I hear Rio is much worse, and my husband swears if we go to Rio we will not ever “explore” but always have a very specific route we follow and only go to exactly the place we are planning– no wrong turns. It’s not quite as rough here in his mind, but there are definitely areas you don’t drive at night.
Which brings me back to my original thought.
As we drove from GRU we drove through the city center. This was probably the most foreign experience I have had in Brasil. I really felt like I was in another world. A post apocalyptic world ruled by children. The buildings’ architecture is beautiful, and you can tell Sao Paulo was once a very beautiful city. But overtime, urban sprawl I am sure occurred, the wealthy moved further out and the poorer moved in to the buildings and they were no longer maintained. The buildings are covered in graffiti, but not just your normal graffiti, “tagging” graffiti from bottom of buildings to the top.
In Brasil this style is referred to pichaçã “pitching” and you can’t read it. It’s not just sloppy “tagging” slang and writing, it is a whole different language, a hieroglyphic . According to Wikipedia the look of the pichaçã changes from Sao Paulo to Rio. Now grafite is something completely different in Brasil. It is seen as an art form, and you can find it throughout the city. I haven’t had a chance to snap any photos of anything beautiful just yet however.