Saturday, February 19, 2022

[SÃO PAULO] Hobo Central at Praça da Sé

São Paulo, oh, São Paulo. How do I describe thee? I guess it is one of those times in your life when you got excited about something or somewhere, got there, and had some sort of “Wait, that’s it?” epiphany. To be totally clear, though, this is coming from a totally touristic perspective. I bet I would be singing a different tune had I moved here for temporary relocation or for good, then I will be telling you a different story. But I came here as a tourist, and this is my verdict. Go to Rio de Janeiro instead.

Harsh, man. Why the hate? First, I am NOT hating. I actually love São Paulo. Of all the Brazilian cities I’ve been to, this is probably the only place that cured my Uber addiction. When you have a super extensive subway system many consider to be among, if not, the best in Latin America, you end up using that subway system as the most convenient way to get around. Google São Paulo Metro Map to get an idea of what I mean by this. It is also cheap at BRL4.40 (~PHP44) per ride. Now, the elephant in the room. Why not SP?

Unlike Rio de Janeiro that seems to have been built with tourism in mind, São Paulo does not really have much to offer in that regard. Land in Rio’s Galeão Airport and do your preliminary internet research about tourist attractions to visit beforehand and you will find a plethora of well-documented options, from photos all the way to detailed DIY tours and how to get there. For São Paulo, I had to scour the depths of its Wikitravel page to find something that can be of easy interest to a tourist who just wants the been-there-done-that bragging rights.

In the end, I only ended up with Praça da Sé and its green-domed cathedral reminiscent of churches in Germany along with Parque de Ibirapuera. I booked an Airbnb at the Sé neighborhood, and that plaza, its church, and its Metro station are just literally a few backflips away from where I am staying. As I ventured for my first day of sightseeing, what, or perhaps the more technically correct term is “who” greeted me as I entered the square were the dozens of hobos lounging there as if they were in their living room.

What followed was a strange combination of past grandeur and disarray. Ignore all the traces of poverty around you and just look up at the high-rise buildings lining up the skyline from Sé to Luz. You will probably think that you were in a downtown area of some big American or Canadian city. I don’t particularly know what that architectural style is called. You know, those big buildings with huge front doors that transport you back to the time before the Great Depression and fill your head with images of men in suits flaunting their wealth? That’s how it feels like.

Now lower your head back down and look at the hobo sleeping on the concrete and hugging the pavement as if it were his bolster pillow. Welcome back to São Paulo. My assessment of the city is that of a city caught in between, transitioning from the grandeur of its first tier North American cousins to the chaotic decay of human misery of its Central American sisters. Have you been to the downtown area of Costa Rica’s capital San José? Imagine that vibe but change the surrounding buildings to those that you see in New York or Toronto. That’s São Paulo for you.

Again, this is coming from someone who is here for just a few days of tourism. A city of 12 million people will always find a way to cope with the influx of just about everybody wanting to take a leap of faith and migrate to the big city to chase their dreams. I guess what I am trying to say is that the locals who once inhabited this old downtown area have since moved farther away west or south where the rent is higher, but the grass is greener, and the avenues are lined with well-manicured trees. Should you decide to move to Brazil’s biggest city for whatever reason, that’s probably where you should go apartment hunting, too.

[SÃO PAULO] Hobo Central at Praça da Sé

0 creature(s) gave a damn:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Protected by Copyscape DMCA Copyright Detector

Theater Review

Book Review

Book Review

Book Review