Saturday, October 8, 2011

Sao Paulo, A City Founded on Faith

Today TimeIrado set out to explore Sao Paulo and see some of the long standing traditions of the city. The day began with a stroll around the Jardins area to better acclimate ourselves with our new neighborhood for the next 6 weeks until we return to the United States (Hard to believe one week is already over with). After exploring shops, cafes, and some streets lined with estates, we taxied over to the Centre of Sao Paulo home to many landmarks.
We started at the Mercado Municipal, which is a large building that is home to fresh food vendors selling meats, vegetables, many fruits, as well as a few local artistic items. We ate lunch at a place that served traditional Brazilian Pastels. This market was an amazing site, despite the poverty that surrounds this area in the heart of the City, the market is abundant with produce as far as the eye can see.

After visiting Mercado Municipal, we headed toward Pateo do Colegio and Catedral da Se ("St. Paul's Cathedral"). The neighborhood between Mercado Municipal and these two landmarks is a rather depressed area. You can tell at one time this area of the city was a vibrant focal point of an emerging metropolitan area. There was a large "Flea" market where there were many name brand goods, that could be presumed to be counterfeit. There was also a large park which appeared to be under construction that was home to many homeless, sleeping under benches, resting on trees, and on the sidewalk. We chose to go up a street with many shops that led up the hill toward the Pateo do Colegio. As we continued our journey, we could see that there were many "street teams" that were selling parking spaces on the street to the visitors, despite the parking spaces being public spaces. Continuing up the steep hill, we came upon an area where the Pateo do Colegio was located. Pateo do Colegio sits atop a large hill in Sao Paulo and marks the site in which the city was founded in 1554. 1554! That is a long time ago. This site was a great spectacle and the interior of the building was reconditioned to look like the original mission that founded the city and gave it its strength through unwavering faith. There were not many visitors but you could get the feeling that it was a very sacred landmark. We were able to see some great skateboarding on the front plaza before the Policia made them stop. 

After leaving the Pateo do Colegio, we headed through a large city plaza to the majestic Catedral de Se (St Peters Cathedral). Walking up through the plaza lined with palm trees was an amazing site. St Peters Cathedral was a very busy place, as it is still an active Cathedral. There were numerous church goers praying and taking a moment to reflect on their days before going about there day. Despite being a spiritual person, I am not a regular church goer, but this place had a strength about it and it was what many of the people, including the hundred or so homeless living outside the Cathedral depended on.

 We exited the Cathedral and walked through a small area of fountains and artwork just outside of the plaza which was rather calming. We saw many homeless showering in the fountains and also saw people getting haircuts, playing cards, gambling, as well as many Police. One local man walking from the Cathedral with his daughter even came up to us to draw attention to the fact that the area was not a very safe place for foreigners. He was very sincere and genuine in his gesture which we appreciated. That was our cue to grab the closest taxi as it looked that a storm was coming and it was just before nightfall. After leaving the City Center landmarks, we headed back to the trendy Paulista Avenue and walk back to the Hotel and spotted this street performer. This performance was the cheapest thing in Sao Paulo so far! This proves that Michael Jackson was a global icon.

We made it back to the hotel just before the big storm that knocked out power to the hotel for a few minutes. TimeIrado decided to rest up before heading to O'Malleys Pub for dinner and a beer tonight. Also, to my delight, according to the O'Malley website, the Ohio State football game will be played at 9pm local time! Lets see how those Nebraska blues work out for me tonight.... From 5,000 miles away in Sao Paulo, Brazil...... O-H!

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