This past weekend I decided to return to Sao Paulo solo for round 2. Sampa left a bad taste in my mouth the last time I was there because my suitcase was taken (and returned, thank God), and my introverted and independent self was completely overwhelmed by having to interact with 28 other Fulbrighters and be ushered around from location to location for four days.
I had planned to visit Sao Paulo with a friend, who at the last minute couldn’t make it. It was 8pm on Friday night, and I decided what the hell, I’ll just go alone. I just had to finish the 3rd season of The Walking Dead before leaving, so I barely had time to shower and cram some clothes into my backpack before heading to the rodoviaria for my midnight bus.
I arrived at Barra Funda bus station at 7am feeling groggy and slightly overwhelmed. I had decided on a whim to arrive in a city of 11 million people without really knowing where I was going or what I was going to do. And it was 7am.
I made it to my hostel and was flamboyantly welcomed by the owner, who petted a Korean American’s head and called him a beautiful Japanese. After the owner insisted, I ended up eating breakfast there and smoking a cigarette (back on that, yeah) where I met a sexy and macho Rio man (surprise?). We joined up with two American doctors and checked out the market and the graffiti alleys in Vila Madalena. I bought gaudy jewelry and rifled through overpriced vintage clothes. I enjoyed my unrushed walk and Brahma break on my way to the alleys. They were elaborately and impressively painted with images both disturbing and beautiful. The Rio man shamelessly kissed me in one in the middle of the afternoon.
I met some English girls who were traveling through South America for five months (again, how do people afford that?). We all went out, looking like gringa hipsters and completely under-dressed for the Brazilian club scene. Seeing as we all forgot our IDs, we just went to a bar and drank overpriced caipirinhas. Negative: One of the doctors started pissing me off because he was using me as an interpreter and getting bitchy when I wasn’t constantly at his side to make him feel less stupid. Positive: He was using me as an interpreter.
The second day I went out again with sexy Rio man and a new guy I scrounged up, a German who slept on the top half of my bunk for a full 24 hours the day before; needless to say I didn’t quite know what to expect of him. He was kind of like a Clark Kent/Superman: at first he was kind of boring and nerdy, but as the day went on he got more and more fun. When he finally took off his glasses at night and started drinking Bacardi with me, he was almost gostoso. Looks aside, we had a good time wandering around Avenida Paulista and the Sao Paulo cemetery, peeping in the weird mausoleum house things that they bury people in there. We saw one that had old-timey pictures of the dead people in there, and one of their faces was completely scratched out except for the eyes and mouth.
I got drunk that night playing ‘never have I ever’ with strangers who felt like friends. I found out way too much about everyone and in turn revealed too much about myself. It felt great. A Brazilian staying there played samba on his guitar while he sang. I learned how to insult someone in German. I laughed at the English girls’ South American mishaps. I wandered the streets at 4am in search of hummus and actually found it.
I woke up early and hungover the next morning to a farewell note from the German, who had left even earlier. I ate breakfast and took a shower that was hotter than I can get in my apartment. I left when I felt like it, stopped in a big used bookstore I passed on the way to the metro, and missed my bus. Whatever. Nothing mattered and everything was exactly as it should have been.
I stuffed myself with goiabinha on the ride back and felt deflated as the humid Rio Preto air hit me on my way out of the bus.