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Lost in Sao Paulo

I woke up Monday  morning, turned on my phone to see what Monday emails I needed to handle and my Google Calendar lovingly reminded me that today was Presidents Day in the US.  YES! A day to go out and see Sao Paulo.  My son was very nice, and woke up at 6 am because Day Light Saving time has ended and his little body has not adjusted.  I am pretty sure that after Monday he’s adjusted (nope still wakes up at 6am).   As this Saturday was a waste, I thought I would try and see the Mercado Municipal today– this time by train.

I took Frank, as he speaks Portuguese, and I thought he could be of help in navigating the train system.  That was a mistake, as I then relied on his judgement and his understanding of words, and blindly followed.  Frank DOES speak Portuguese, but he’s not from Sao Paulo any more than I am, so wasn’t much help in navigating.  In fact, after a brief conversation with some women on the train he said that we should get off one stop late, and one transfer less at Dom Pedro II, as it was “a closer walk.”  As you can see from the map we got off on the other side of the freeways, which meant we got to walk alongside/underneath the freeway down an empty road with the filthy river on one side, and a large open grass field on the other.  Well we weren’t completely alone, there were all the squatters that called this area home.  Yeah, not the smartest area for some white chic from LA to be walking through with her little baby.

I have since learned that Brazilian’s are helpful people.  Even if they don’t know how to get somewhere they’ll give you directions anyway.  This probably explains why Frank asked for directions no less than 3 different times every time he had to ask for direction (which was quite a few).  Even better was when we crossed over the bridge into the “bum park” as I lovingly called the park with piles of rotting vegetables scattered through out, and little outcroppings of bums of all ages sitting around fires or food, or just sitting.  As we entered the park it began to unleash the fury of mother nature rain on us.  Yay for me.

The Mercado itself isn’t somewhere I would make time to to to in the future. It’s kind of a “hey, I’ve seen it. It’s cool,” kind of thing.  Lots of cheese, spice, fruit and meat stands everywhere.  I bought a bunch of spices for cooking, and for the most part, I think it was a nice deal.

But I’m sure I could have picked them up at my neighborhood Fiera or the grocery store too.  The fruit prices were crazy expensive, and the types of fruit were also crazy.  Giant strawberry’s were R$89 a kilo.  The below photos, show Caju fruit, Mangosteen, and Rambutan.  I guess if you really wanted to try these exotic fruits fresh, this would be a place to do it.

There were a lot of little sandwich shops to eat at.  Below is a photo of Pão Paulistano (a Paulistano is someone from Sao Paulo).  They’re big on baking their luncheon meat (which I detest as it just doesn’t seem like real meat, but the cheapest luncheon meat you can buy) and cheese into bread.  

And lots of salted and cured meat to go with all of the cheese.

They also really love their salt cod here.  Who knew.  I haven’t yet ventured a taste, but there were large bins of it everywhere.

Towards the back are the butchers.  I guess if I was in the mood for buying a whole pig this would be the place to go!  The last little piggy I find slightly disturbing as I can see his little tail and everything, looks less like meat and more like Babe!

So then we walked up to Sao Bento through 25 de Marcos street… a street full of all of the cheap China import knockoffs, and on to the train.  Which we then were told was having issues, in fact the line we were to take home was specifically called out.  I made an executive decision and decided to head South, which would bring us closer to home than West, which would take us to the line to home, but further away if said line truly were broken.  By the time we got to the last “South stop” our “home line” was supposedly up, so up through the Capital we went again. My 9 month old was a champ, didn’t cry at all.  Even when we got back into the Center and saw the CRAZY line for people to get on our train.
We got in line; everyone shoved there way in, and we were left standing on the sidelines wondering how we were ever to get home.  It was like being at the Tokyo train station at rush hour.
These guys were waiting for the train door to shut so they could smoosh in.  After a few of the train guys walked past me, a train woman walked past looked at my pathetic face and then told me about the nifty “first car” the  car for old people, handicapped, injured and pregnant/women with babies.  Awesome! My on will not be squished to death!
Our line was indeed having issues, as twice we lost power and slowed to a crawl until the power came back online.  I did however get home, no major injuries, and I got to see Sao Paulo.
Train riding with an infant was also surprisingly pleasant in Brazil.  Everyone gave up their seat for me.  In fact, even on the most crowded of trains, if I got on someone would seek me out, tap me on the shoulder, point to someone sitting down and tell them that I had a kid, and walla that person jumped up and gave me their seat.  It was a team effort to make sure I was seated.  It was even a team effort to keep my kid happy.  If he got the slightest bit grumpy, women, children, old men, young burly, surly guys would all soften up and start playing with my kid.  Granted he is adorably cute but I have to say, I love how much Brazilians love kids!

About scrubgrub

I'm just another soul on the internet, posting random thoughts into the ether, because well I love stumbling on other peoples random thoughts, so I figured why not add mine to the mix too. I'm also the mom to two very funny little boys, and how can you not share that with everyone?

4 responses »

  1. OMG!
    I am so sorry you missed your stop and ended up at Dom Pedro Station!!! That is homeless Central!
    There is a gigantic Pentecostal Church close to the station, they claim to be the largest in the World…
    The church maintains one of the city’s largest Homeless shelters, they take in over 3000 people each night and some of them just like to hang around under those overpasses and highways, and you guys went right in the middle of them…
    The city just started to knock down some old buildings in that area to try to improve the whole region, it’s an up hill battle…but they are trying.
    If that ever happens again, you could either hail a cab right in front of that Subway station or catch one already parked at the TAXI Station right in front of the station, it would have cost it about 1 or 2 dollars to ride to the Mercado’s entrance.
    Sao Bento station is the best one to walk to the Mercado and you can’t catch a cab from Sao Bento to the Mercado because the streets around that station are exclusive for pedestrians.
    You could almost say the opposite for Dom Pedro Station is almost exclusive for cars 😦
    I am glad you enjoyed the Mercado…yes, it is expensive, it has become more and more especilized in goumet ingredients for fine restaurants and a tourist attraction.
    Did you guys see the mezanine area?
    Yes, the specialty meat that the Mercado is known for is “Mortadela”, which is an Italian version of Bologna, not a real meat, well, it is real meat, but not the best of meats…
    When the immigrants would arrive in Sao Paulo, while being processed for their papers on “our” version of “Ellis Island” they would receive a “Mortadela Sandwich”, nedless to say the Italian immigrants would feel right at home but the Japanese immigrants would through the meat “mortadela” away and eat only the bread. Different cultures…
    Well, you can be sure the Italians would probably gag from the raw fish the Japanese eat on a regular basis… 🙂

    • Yeah it was one of those situations that by the time I had turned the corner and had walked enough feet to realize that the Mercado wasn’t “just around that corner” it was pointless to walk back and catch a cab or get back on the train.

      Oh well, I wasn’t as scared as I guess I should have been, guess I knew all would be fine.

  2. Interesting. I live in Tokyo.

    The train is very reliable but too many damn people. São Paolo sounds like a trip. Beijos, Charles Ayres, writer of!

  3. Pingback: Shopping & Shoes!!! « O Jeito Brasileiro

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