I was just outside the arrival hall of the airport everyone calls “GRU” because its full name is São Paulo/Guarulhos – Governador André Franco Montoro International Airport, smoking a cigarette and half sleepily staring at a tree being conquered by a giant colony of ants.
Suddenly, a large cockroach made its way towards the tree…
… and I have no idea what happened next because we had to find a taxi and our hotel in São Paulo.
I stepped back into the arrival hall where Feng and Mark were waiting for me.
We joined the crowd of travellers waiting for a taxi. To my left, two guys were kissing with the kind of passion you’d only seen in movies. To my right, two guys cuddling like new lovers who can’t keep their hands to themselves.
This is Brazil, a country of many dichotomies, a fascinating, complex and unique place.
Brazil is not what you think it is and São Paulo is a good introduction to it.
Take people, for instance. Remember, the current president is Jair Bolsonaro, the Brazilian version of Trump. Well, I’m pretty sure Paulistas didn’t vote for him because they make me look like a freaking nun. I mean, I have zero tattoos, mainstream piercings, a straightforward haircut and my style is definitely not unique. I’m so bland here I almost stand out.
“Mark, do people look different in São Paulo?” I ask casually.
A couple with their two kids is walking down the street. One of the dads is a very tall black man pushing a stroller, his partner is a shorter white guy all dressed in leather and he is holding a little girl’s hand.
“Duh!” Mark replies. “Yes. Like, everybody is wearing sandals here. And they all have different t-shirts.”
Next time someone uses the “BUT THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!” excuse for conservative views, just tell them to fuck off. Honestly, kids don’t care. They go with the flow. Same-sex PDA is sadly fairly uncommon (or worst, illegal) in many places around the world but in São Paulo, it seems to be absolutely fine.
When you think of Brazil, you probably also either picture the rainforest or megalopolises. Well, São Paulo somehow manages to have green areas growing between the concrete jungle—giant buildings, giant trees with roots so deep that it’s a constant battle between roots and pavement (pavement is losing, it’s awfully uneven).
On New Year’s Day, everything was closed in São Paulo. It felt like we had the city to ourselves. Where the 12 millions of people were hiding? Home, hungover?
We went to explore a couple of neighbourhoods, then I spent time people watching on Avenida Paulista where I stayed until it started pouring rain.
Time to move on, already. We will be back in São Paulo, anyway.