Olá from Brasil! Tudo bem? I won’t lie, I’m re-writing this blog after my first version somehow mysteriously disappeared off the face of my mac and completely refuses to be found :’). I suppose it’s the universe’s way of telling me that it was simply too good to share with the world (at least that’s what I’ll tell myself). So really, I should be saying olá from Auckland – sorry 360, ily! Re-capping our beautiful, exciting, and insanely exhausting first week in São Paulo is a pretty intense job, but I’ll do my best. Bear with me though, I’m a terrible blogger :).
We arrived in Brazil after a lovely 15-hour flight to Houston, followed by a 5-hour layover and another 10-hour flight to São Paulo. Honestly, those 30 hours of travel almost threw me into a full-on mental breakdown. I could seriously still feel the turbulence two weeks later. Although not the most amazing start, I can happily say that the rest of our week made that awful trip half-way across the world so worthwhile.
As soon as we arrived, we headed straight to lunch at a Michelin star restaurant in the heart of the city (I love you Campus B), where we were lucky enough to get a taste of Traditional Brazilian cuisine. Highly recommend the suco de caju. With full bellies, aching bodies, and hearts full of excitement we prepared for our week ahead. We spent the upcoming weekend in full tourist mode, visiting São Paulo’s most popular neighbourhoods and attractions. We first toured Vila Maddalena, best known for Batman Alley and its spectacular graffiti. Every street corner we turned down was beaming with vibrant colours, beautiful art, and expressive murals. I was filled with a sense of awe at the visual portrayal of each artist’s self-expression, imagination, and artistry. I couldn’t help but reflect on how dull and grey some of Auckland’s buildings and streets look in comparison. Petition to ‘art-ify’ Aotearoa’s urban areas! We deserve cities that breathe life and creativity into all of us.
Next on the agenda was a Capoeira workshop! Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian martial art that incorporates elements of dance, spirituality, acrobatics, and music. It was an incredibly enlightening and eye-opening experience. We were instructed by a master of Capoeira, who shared that the ever-evolving art-form was born from the combined influence and culture of enslaved Africans, Indigenous Brazilians, and Portuguese peoples. Capoeira began as a martial art disguised as a dance to aid enslaved Africans in their pursuit to escape slavery throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. I learned that practicing Capoeira today is a way of maintaining one’s spirituality and culture, but most importantly a form of continuing resistance against colonial subjugation.
We of course also toured Paulista Avenue. Paulista ave is Sao Paulo’s most famous avenue, and on Sundays it is closed for cars and completely open to the public. The streets seemed to be lined with food and market stalls for miles. I swear there were more people there on their local Sunday stroll than there are people in all of Auckland city. After we completely gorged ourselves on coconut water, tried (and failed) to blend in with the locals, and spent all of our cash, we decided to make the hour-long trek back to the hotel… in Jandals. Terrific idea, I know :)). Safe to say my feet were very upset with me the next day. But as my fave millennial mentee would say – ‘it’s never that deep’.
The rest of our week was spent attending a few informative lectures on Brazilian history/ indigenous rights and visiting different museums. Learning about the Yanomami community in particular really stuck with me. Many Yanomami people, mainly children, are dying from preventable disease and malnutrition from water pollution and environmental destruction, predominately caused by illegal mining in the area. Additionally, the community has received little to no support from the previous Bolsonaro administration. Truthfully, I was shocked by my lack of knowledge on the issue and at the extent of exploitation facing Yanomami, and many other indigenous communities in Brazil.
I left week one hungry for knowledge and ready to experience more of what Brazil had to offer.
Tchau for now :).