Current date: Feb. 3, 2002 2:30 p.m. (Sao Paulo hostel)
Current Itinerary: Today is my last day in SP. Tomorrow I will go to Parati, or a village close to there that Christina/SP told me about...then to Rio and on to Buzios (YES!!) for the weekend.
Subject: The first two nights in Sao Paulo
Friday, January 31, 2003 (con't)
I left the airport and headed towards the hostel...a bus ride and a train ride later I made it. It was a strange feeling to know that I knew exactly where I was going. I mean, it really made that first day very easy b/c I already knew where everything was. Nice way for things to start off.
I checked into the hostel and it was cool b/c EVERYTHING was exactly as I remembered it. I am staying in the same room even...which has about 10 beds. I was absolutely exhausted at that point but I wanted to get the "business" things out of the way. I sat and shot a quick e-mail to folks letting them know I made it and then I headed to the bank to get cash. Once again, it was VERY nice to know where I was going...as Tony can tell you and as I mentioned in my journals from last year...getting cash is never less than a 1 hour experience...but not THIS time. I knew exactly where the Citibank was so I was able to go straight to it. sweet.
The bank is on Avenida Paulista...a pretty major road here in SP. I decided to sit and have a beer at an outside cafe and just watch the people go by. It was great. It was the first moment of being here where I actually thought to myself "I'm in Brazil" (Sunny is very familiar with this phrase...only a different country inserted at the end). Perfect. Not to mention I had a half liter beer AND a snack...total cost: One US dollar. What a great country.
After sitting and watching people for awhile, I decided to head back toward the hostel so I could catch some Z's. On the way to the subway, I passed a little tourist info booth so I went in to grab a map. This would prove integral later b/c the guy told me about a TON of stuff to do/places to go in SP, including a soccer game that was being played on Sunday...something that is definitely on my "todo" list.
After that I gave a call to these girls I know in SP that I met here last year. I had absolutely NO contact with them since last year so they were VERY surprised to hear from me. I talked to Christina for awhile and it was great to hear her voice again.
(Background: Last year in SP, Holly/Isreal had introduced me to a local girl, Quangi (sp?) and her friends...one of which was Christina. They were VERY nice to us and drove us to some places around the city. I remember that I was so overwhelmed by their kindness...during that week, one night it was Holly's B-day. The girls actually baked her a cake and brought it to the hostel for us to enjoy!! I still had their phone #'s on a piece of paper from last year so I decided I would get ahold of them when I got here)
Anyway, we made a plan to meet up later that night. I had planned to hook up with Luciana's brother also that evening but I didn't have his phone # yet. I figured I would just get ahold of him later. I also gave a call to the brother of another friend from Houston that is from SP and left a message. I remember thinking that it was pretty weird that I had just gotten to SP and I already had all these calls to make.
Since I arrived so early in SP, by the time I did all that it was only about 2:00. I came back to the hostel and slept for about 4 hours. I woke up feeling like a new man and I was ready to attack. After quick shower (low-flow...DAMMIT) I gave Christina a call but she said she couldn't meet and we decided we would do something on Sat. I called the others but nobody was around. The hostel was pretty empty at the time too...I did some e-mail for a bit and then decided I would just go out and create my own fun...no problem when you are in Brazil.
So off I went on my own...I remembered a good restaurant from last year that was near a subway stop on Avenida Paulista so I figured I would just start there...then I would go to this area that I knew, Itaim Bibi, that the guy at the info both had told me had a lot of bars. When I got to the restaurant, it was kind of empty so I decided to keep walking. I few blocks later, there was this little corner place that had a lot of people and music playing so I went in. I had a beer and a cheeseburger...by the way, they really don't kid around with the cheese down here. You have to watch out. If you get a cheeseburger...there is TWICE as much cheese as burger. I was a little annoyed. Luckily I had an ice cold beer to wash down that block of cheese.
I sort of talked to a guy for a bit while I was in there but it wasn't going to good...some people I meet it is impossible for me to understand their portuguese but others I can follow pretty well. Depends on how strong the accent is. Of course, I was talking to the guy in Spanish so that is tough for him too. Anyway, I decided that I would just walk the streets in that area and find another bar.
Well, I walked for awhile but it didn't seem like any place had very many people...it was about 10:00 at the time so it was to early for me to go to Itaim Bibi where the clubs were. Eventually I came arcoss this Irish Pub, so I thought..."that's right up my alley...I think I will check it out."
There were a couple guys sitting at the bar and a few people eating in there. I sat at the bar and ordered a beer in Spanish...prompting the "where are you from question". Well, it turned out, the bartender, Rafael, spoke english. He had studied for a year in Alaska. (yes, I know, why the hell would a Brazilian guy go ALL the way to that frozen tundra? Turns out, he just wanted something different...pretty adventurous if you ask me). We talked for a bit but since the place was pretty empty, I was really able to interact with everyone in there. Well, it also happened to turn out that the guy I sat next to at the bar was the owner...he only spoke portuguese but we were able to communicate pretty well. He told me that he had been working in the bar circuit for many years and knew the owners of several pubs...he told me about a few and gave me some cards with his name so I could show the people at the other places to get a little "preferential treatment". Very cool. The guys who worked there were so AWESOME!!!! I ended up staying there in chatting for HOURS. Everyone was super friendly and it reminded me why I love the Brazilian culture so much. By 2:00a.m. I had become friends with ALL the workers in that place. I was having such a great time, I decided to just stay there for the rest of the night (plus I had mistakenly not brought enough money to go to a disco) We laughed and joked around the whole night. The bar closed at 3 and they let me stay there. We all ended up there drinking...for free...until about 5:30 in the morning...just me, Rafael, and the other waiters and cooks who worked there!!! It was GREAT!! They showed me how to play this dice game...which I beat them all at twice:) It was hilarious...we just had the greatest time...just me and these locals in this little pub in freakin' Sao Paulo...only one of which even spoke english. Talk about perfect...the night had started out so weak and ended up being phenomenal...I had tons of fun and met some great people...the trip certainly got started off on the right foot!!
After we left the bar, Rafael and I went to anther little bar on the corner...which, by the way, was PACKED at 5:30 in the morning. We had a beer but I was hitting the wall then. The metro was back open again so I had successfully pulled off another subway layover. I got back to the subway stop of the hostel and decided to stop in this little corner store that Tony and I went to last year a couple times (with the funniest bathroom on the planet, remember Tony?) and have a little bite. I got back to the hostel at about 7:30...just in time for a little breakfast. I had some papaya (ahhhhh....brazil!!) and hit the sack...I fell asleep pretty quickly...with a HUGE smile spread acoss my face. What a great country.
Saturday, February 1, 2003
Woke up around 2:30. Where has the day gone? Probably the funniest moment of the trip until that point happened right then. This guy comes in the room as I was coming out of the bathroom and he's like, "Oh, the snorer." I don't know what he was talking about...I didn't hear anything:)
I would spend the day doing some e-mail and getting the website back up.
I worked on that for about 5 hours. During that time, I was chatting a
lot with other people in the hostel. Somehow, the topic of conversation
ended up being salsa music...ahhh...right up my alley again. I let this
girl, Lorna/London listen to one of my CD's. She was with two other people,
Deborah/Australia and Brad/Zimbabwe. We talked for a long time. I told
them that I had heard about a Salsa club here in Sao Paulo (from the girls
in Buzios last year) called Azucar, that was supposed to be great. We
decided we would all go there for the night. My friend Christina/SP (from
last year) stopped by the hostel and it was great to see her!!! She had
a rough day at the hospital (she is a medical student) but was still willing
to go out with us! Now that is the true Brazilian spirit!!!
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