26 April 2010


It's going to be hard to explain the feelings I've had since arriving in Brazil. But let me try to start.
maxixeIt began, without a doubt, when I encountered a first helpful stranger in the São Paulo airport. I didn't speak Portuguese really but understood some & spoke mostly poorly affected Spanish in response to people who spoke to me. This made getting a SIM card a bit difficult. Another complicating factor in this endeavor was the fact that I, being a foreigner, am not a bearer of the all important CPF, a sort of citizen tracking number that is requested or required for many purchases (from online bus ticket purchases - ouch! - to SIM cards and more!). This guy in the store spoke on the phone with people from the carrier, then ended up just starting over with another carrier and getting a pre-paid SIM for me as if it was for him. This is apparently common practice, and it allowed me to procure yet another phone number.

SIM card in hand, I met up with the guy taking me to Praia Grande. He and I spoke in choppy Porta(ñ|nh)ol, and I discovered that he is originally from the very small town I would be going to in Bahia in a week or so. Incredible. He could hardly believe it: “In 25 years, I've barely met another Brazilian in São Paulo who had heard of Capim Grosso, and I pick up an American from the airport who's going there!”
Sonia e FranciscoI was beyond happy to see Camila and Lucas when I got to PG two hours later. It was also a true treat to see her parents again. I had all but forgotten that I had met them at my house maybe 12 years prior on New Year’s Eve during one of the famous 45th Street parties. I also eventually remembered, with assistance, that I had eaten her mom’s cooking before...
... and it is VERY good ... feijoada
David & LucasOne of the first verbs I learned in Portuguese after arriving in PG was “experimentar”, as in “Você tem que experimentar!” or “Experimenta!” Although leaving out much, some of the things I got to experimentar when I got to PG include, in no particular order: graviola icegurt (geladinho), pastel de carne, sardela, picanha, caqui, pizza portuguesa, beijinho, brigadeiro, coxinha, risolis, kibe, bolinha de queijo, bolinho de bacalhao, caldo de cana.
In addition to these novelties, the following delicacies came from "A Cozinha Da Sonia":
  • bife à rolê e mandioquinha
  • bolo de pamonhã (YUM!)
  • feijoada com couve
Although I was not in São Paulo (city) or Rio de Janeiro for the samba school parades, all carnivalia was not lost. From 11pm to about 4 or 5am the parades are televised (live?!?). Once I fell asleep about an hour into the programming but twice I managed to set (and wake up to!) an alarm for 2am to watch for about 2 hours. Schools I remember include Graviões, X9, Mangueira, and a bit of Beija Flor.

gumboRelaxing with people you like, trying new alcoholic beverages (e.g., espanhola, batida de amendoim, batida de coco, batida de maracujá); going to the beach daily (and trying new alcoholic beverages there); playing in the warm Carnival time waters of the São Paulo Atlantic Ocean with a nine year old, his mother, and his grandparents; learning on a new language; discovering new foods, and making gumbo in a foreign land are all good things.

Zebra warning
Once again, much like in Ancón and in Quito, I came into contact with people from the past or from home ... but this time from my first and true home - New Orleans. It was in PG that I started to see some of the many parallels I would see over the next couple of months in Brazil between certain elements of the country’s food, music, and other cultural elements and those of “my people”.


  1. I was looking for more info about Sao Paulo and found this blog... thanks! I'm thinking about traveling to the city in the fall, in the meanwhile learning some Portuguese on Babbel.com (http://www.babbel.com). Obrigada!

  2. David! I'm glad you are posting again, I have been wondering how you are doing and what you are up to. It's good to hear from you.

  3. I love the photographs, the content, what you have to say ...EVERYTHING.
    I look forward to whatever you write, whenever you write.