Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Last Blog Post!

I flirted with the idea of changing this blog a while ago, when it dawned on me my observations on Brazilian culture are mostly filtered through my time here in Latin America’s second largest city, Sao Paulo. So I wanted a name that reflected this.
david-bowie-changes-resized-600I decided on ‘What About Sao Paulo’ when thinking about how often I’m explaining my decision to live in this city to Brazilians here. I’m aware that as a foreigner many expect me to want to live in Rio, lured by its obvious beauty and laid back lifestyle. Sao Paulo on the other hand is pretty damn ugly, prompting a lot of people to ask me what the hell I’m still doing here when I could be living somewhere much more beautiful!
On reflection this is a pretty good question, given that I never intended to even visit the city at all...let alone live here!
Back in 2009 I was planning my trip to Brazil with my friend Kazu and we were ready to skip coming here altogether. “What about this Sao Paulo?” he asked before showing me the chapter on it in his Brazilian guide book. I really wasn’t impressed by the bland looking skyscrapers I was looking at.  “Nah” I responded quite flippantly, “I mean, it just looks like any other city, doesn’t it? Why the hell would we want to go to Sao Paulo?” No sooner had I said this than Kazu was taking a second look at the picture for himself. “You’re right” he conceded reluctantly before flicking on to the next chapter.
In hindsight the reason I dismissed visiting Sao Paulo so quickly was because it just wasn’t the Brazil I wanted to buy into. When I used to think about Brazil before my first trip here, it was the picture perfect beaches, wildlife and nature that came to mind. It wasn’t a city cased in layer upon layer of concrete. Skipping it on my trip was a total no-brainer for me because I had no great desire to come and see it; not with all the other locations Brazil had to offer.
Yet as the bus journey from Rio to the Iguazu Falls was going to take almost a full day, we ended up splitting up the trip with a stopover in Sao Paulo anyway. After sampling some of the city’s nightlife on my first night here I realised that there was so much more to the city than I’d anticipated, and it intrigued me.
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There is a real vibrancy to Sao Paulo; it is chaotic, sprawling and exciting. I knew that it definitely wasn’t somewhere you can fully appreciate in a few days. As I considered this on the bus to the falls, a seed had been planted. It was one that would later grow into full blown intrigue about how I’d fare in Sao Paulo on a more permanent basis.
Four years on I’m still enjoying the chaos of life amongst the concrete, and am hoping my new blog can persuade you all this city really isn't the armpit of Brazil.
The blog will still contain my usual dissections of Brazilian culture from a foreigner’s perspective, but will also come with the occasional focus on city life. So if you’re thinking of coming over to Brazil and find yourself asking ‘what about Sao Paulo?’, hopefully my new blog will go some way to convince you that the trip is worth it!
I’ve been assured that the new site is much more user-friendly too. So don’t be shy; any feedback or comments on it would be much appreciated. 
http://whataboutsaopaulo.com/

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