So I’m full swing into the Brazilian adventure, my first time in Latin America, Brazil, a huge metropolis. I landed in Guarulhos airport Friday morning and decided to do things the hard way, meaning taking the Air Service Bus and metro to the AirBnb place I rented for a week in Vila Madalena – a residential area, full of artsy cafes and supposedly cool people – pessoas legais – which I still have to meet. Decided against taking a taxi, annoyed of being again fresh meat getting overcharged by taxi drivers smelling the ignorant tourist. So 4 hours later, of onde fica a rua Girassol, while dragging my “light” 17 kg suitcase up and down the stairs and hills – I did get help from a guy and two ladies who were also kind enough to point me in the right direction, as my phone was almost dead and I did not have the good sense of loading the exact address on google maps before using up the complimentary 60 minutes of airport wifi – I arrived at my host’s apartment, who was waiting for me with fresh fruit, small organic soaps and a beautiful white rose in the room that I gladly crashed in.
Another decision was to wait until getting here before renting a long-term place; everybody’s raving about Vila Madalena, so this is one option. The city is enormous, so you’re pretty much confined to your neighbourhood, vila, which acts like a local enclave – so the choice of location is supposed to shape the entire personal experience in SP. I’m using easyquarto/ easyroommate to find a shared accommodation – apartamento compartilhado – a process that has the added advantage of familiarising me with the city areas, distances and use of colloquial language.
First anthropological experience was going grocery shopping at a nearby Natural de Terra, got awesome ripe papaya, mangos, and caju fruit, and a nice banana jam – people seem to be into organic produce, which to me screams afluent middle class. Another observation is that cars and drivers are more important than pedestrians, since every building – house of apartment block – has its own steep driveway across the sidewalks onto the streets, which makes the walking slightly annoying. Yesterday was the first day at the office, a research institute which occupies the 18th floor of one of the tall buildings in Brooklyn quarter, a business district- oh yes, there’s a funny abundance of US toponymes, Brooklyn, Indianopolis, Roosevelt, for streets, buildings and quarters. My boss gave me the grand tour and introduced me to several other departments – on different floors, more than 50 people in total, which promptly made my head spin a little. But people are nice, it helps a lot that our cultures (Romanian, Brazilian) share a latin language and social mores, we “get” each other in many ways. Today it was lunch at my boss’s place, awesome food and nice conversation with Brazilian researchers, kind enough to slow down the speed of their talking so my untrained ear could catch up. We talked about the neoliberalisation of research and education, entering the production line, privilege, so yes, people are aware in addition to being nice. Very cool.
Another walk in Vila Madalena this evening, to get more of the local vibe, although I do not feel social enough to engage in street conversations with strangers outside bars and cafes. The area is full of shamanic graffiti, after I sort out the accommodation I will start taking care of my other needs – social and cultural life, dancing – Zumba, biodanza or other dance types, and spiritual – shamanism, yoga, meditation.
So far so good.