South America was the next continent in our plans after Africa. And we use the word “plan” pretty loosely lately.
So then how to get from Africa to South America? David found the best deal for a nonstop flight from Johannesburg, South Africa to São Paulo, Brazil. Well, we thought, guess we might as well stay there for a week and check it out. What a pleasant surprise.
São Paulo – funky, fun, friendly, creative, and lively! I had no idea it is one of the most populated cities in the world, generally shows up in top 5 or 10…in the world…depending on the list. About 20 million people live in greater São Paulo and call it home. It’s got a very diverse population. The largest community of people of Japanese descent outside of Japan and the largest population of people of Italian descent outside of Italy.
We only got one week in São Paulo, but what a week it was! Our Airbnb hosts and their home made it feel so comfortable and really friendly. David instantly connected with Carlos, a professional musician, and they chatted up a storm. What really sticks out is the neighborhood padaria we went to nearly every morning. A padaria is a typical brazilian bakery. There are all over and we had one less than a block away. We saw the same two guys there every morning and although we know no Portuguese and they really didn’t speak english we shared lots of google translate words, smiles, and thumbs up. We ate pao de queijo (cheese bread) and sampled numerous local specialities. On our last day they had another customer, who did speak some english, translate for us and they told us they were so happy to have met us. It’s one of those small moments that felt so big and is imprinted in my mind. If you are ever in Brazil, you must visit a padaria!
Lots of musician and artists claim São Paulo as home. We got a taste of this through the amazing street art and numerous bands we saw playing on Paulista Avenue on Sunday. Wow, we had been missing live music and boy did we get our fill there. Avenue Paulista is closed to vehicles every Sunday. The whole avenue, 2.8km (1.7 miles) is filled with people walking, jogging, biking, food for sale, people selling all sorts of things, numerous live bands, and more that I probably don’t want to mention here. Oh and we both got some healing energy work right there in the middle of it all. You may have seen and been able to hear a few of the bands that I posted on Facebook live.
As I mentioned the street art was everywhere and really good. It’s so fun to be walking along and see such talented pieces. And really fun to see where it might show up. On walls, stairs, buildings, electrical boxes, poles, trash cans, you name it….it can be painted. There’s one particular place called Beco do Batman or Batman Alley. It’s got an incredible amount of vibrant, colorful, self expression packed into a small little street. This kind of colorful self expression just instantly makes me smile, evokes feelings of wonder and curiosity, brings me into the present moment, and feel happy.
We visited São Paulo Cathedral. It’s the largest church in the city with a capacity of more than 8,000 and considered to be the 4th largest neo-gothic cathedral in the world. I hadn’t been in grand, spacious, ornate churches likes this since my travels in Europe over 20 years ago. It was fun to come across the statue of Saint Paul in front of the church. We were reverently looking at him and then it clicked, the city is named after him! With the help of David’s sharp memory of catholicism, and a little help from google, I discovered that Saint Paul is the patron saint of writers, publishers, religious theologians, missionaries, musicians, and others. How cool to uncover these kinds of little pieces. What a fun way for me to learn, through travel and exploration.
The people, the food, the creative energy, the great weather – what a memorable time we had in São Paulo!