Finding a bargain one litre bottle of Pepsi before a night bus was a bad idea on two parts, the first because it was a bottle cap, so once it was open it had to be drunk, and me being the fool I am decided to open the bottle and gulp down the fizzy drink which brings me to the second part, which was that now I was full of sugar so sleeping on the bus would be problematic to say the least. Luckily after a few games of Solitaire and listening to Feeder I managed to drift off.
The bus was relatively short only a six hour journey, so we were in Sao Paulo at 5.30am. Two Colombian girls we had met during the World Cup had offered to put a roof over our heads for the stay. It was a metro and about a mile walk from the main bus station, so we took our time with journey so we wouldn't arrive too early. That wasn't a problem as google maps decided to send us on a wild goose chase and pinpoint the abode we were stopping in in a different location. With no Wi-Fi to message the Colombians we were in a pickle. Fortunately we found a saviour, a middle aged woman called Priscilla offered to show us the way after much deliberation with two other older women. We had finally reached our accommodation at 7.20am and were greeted by Veronica who we must have woke up with two rings of the doorbell and her appearance in her jammies, she showed us too our room it was very basic, just two single mattresses but that was all we needed and we were very grateful for the free stay. 7.20am is not my sort of hour, and I think I can say the same about Earl and our Colombian hosts so we all pottered off to our beds for a well-earned snooze. Well that was the intended plan but I kind of got stuck into a game of Football Manager instead. I had accepted one of the challenges - The Saviour Cometh where you had to save a team from relegation, a challenge which I completed with relative ease. I the decided to take a shower and was greeted with the coldest shower I have ever experienced in my life, I don't know how the Colombians could put up with it; it also gave me an electric shock. Refreshed and raring to go I went downstairs where I met Alejandra. We caught up maybe via Google Translate because of her very limited English dialect and then she took us to the local supermarket. That afternoon we didn't do nothing much apart from chill out, I accepted another challenge on football manager to maintain an unbeaten streak throughout the season only to get beat on the penultimate game. Heart-Break. We also got a few chores done like some much needed washing.
Once Alejandra's roommate Veronica returned Earl and I decided to make them some dinner. It was thanks for letting us stay with them for nothing. We opted on a bit of a Sunday dinner type feel having Marinated Pork in a tomato sauce, Mash Potato and a selection of vegetables. The only thing missing was the gravy which had been sighted in any supermarket since we arrived in South America. Still I think the Colombians enjoyed our culinary skills, Earl's mash potato was of a high quality and I'd like to think that I'd served up quality marinated pork in a tomato sauce. After dinner we had a few beers, at the supermarket we found beers for the equivalent of 25p so obviously we stocked up, we also taught the Colombians how to play s***head or has it is known in Spanish cabeza de meirda. I think they eventually picked up the game after a few early language barrier difficulties and I'd like to think they enjoyed it and that s***head will be taking Colombia by storm.
I used the much warmer downstairs shower the next day, which was a blessing that I didn't have to use the ice cold upstairs one again. Scrambled eggs followed and then we were off out. Alejandra had nothing on so we asked her if she would show us around the area. She kindly said she would, despite probably feeling very uncomfortable that she spoke little to no English.
Alejandra's walking tour though was class. Better than any of the free walking turs we had been on, maybe that could be a little bias but we didn't have the guilt of leaving a sub-standard tip to the tour guide. Our first stop on the tour was a cathedral; we then followed this with a trip to a church / school where Sao Paulo was first established called Pateo do Collegio. Inside it was more of a little café, which had some of the original wall and a few statues. Outside this building was the Marca De Paz or in English the Mark of Peace, this was a big bell which was meant to symbolise peace and fraternity between the world. It was also quite fun to ring the weighty bell. Our next port of call was the viewpoint at the top of the Banco De Estado De Sao Paulo building. We took the two elevators and 59 steps to the 529 feet observatory where we were greeted with a 360 degree view of the city. To be honest the view wasn't the best we had ever seen, but one building did stand out, one which looked like it was made from different coloured pieces of Lego, which when we returned to ground level we walked, to my delight, on our way to a typical Sao Paulo market. The market wasn't all that impressive, it definitely lacked variety, all that semt to be there was fruit and meat stalls, there was however like Belo Horizonte an abundance of bars, and they all sold the meatiest sandwich I had ever seen in my life. I do not know how I managed to control myself and not buy one of the 20BR meaty delights and ended up with 3.50BR Bacon and Cheese Hamburger accompanied with a natural orange juice. Our next stop was another church or cathedral one which Veronica had recommended us unfortunately though I have no idea of the name. Some cultural eating was next in line as we tried some Acai. Acai is a frozen pulp, much similar to a Slurpee. It is made from Acai berries which are typical in Brazil. It was pretty tasty especially accompanied with the granola, fruits and cream on top. The last stop on the tour was where the Fan Fest used to be situated, it was crazy seeing the area which once housed thousands upon thousands of world-wide football fans and now it was back to its typical winding road through a park, it was like a completely different place.
That night we again decided to cook up a masterpiece in the kitchen. I had gotten Yorkshire pudding and gravy recipes off my loved father and we decided to knock up a toad in the hole with mash and veg. unfortunately it didn't go A1, probably didn't even go Q8. The Yorkshire pudding barely rose a cm still the Colombians didn't know what it was meant to look like and they gave us a very very very generous ten out of ten. The night progressed with some fun; they made fun of us for not being able to role our r's whilst we teased them for not being able to say English words like Spoon, Loughborough and Leicester. They certainly said them better than Americans. Earl taught them how to make an origami swan/ crane and they shocked us both when they made them again perfectly with no help. Things got messy after these pleasantries as we introduced them to beer pong. It didn't help as Veronica was ill and on medication so she was unable to drink so whoever was on her side had to drink double. This did not bode well for Alejandra when it was her turn to be on her side as Earl and I destroyed them in a similar fashion to as Man United thrashed LA Galaxy in their opening pre-season friendly. The night ended with me dressed in a Colombia flag, glasses and face paints and millions of selfies being took. It was a top night.
A drunken promise led us to starting Wednesday with Earl and me both seeing off a shot off a cachaça from the less than 50p bottle of 500ml liquor we purchased the previous day. We chased this with a piece of fudge and fried egg sarnies. Yes my friends, a breakfast of champions. The main job of the agenda for the day was to try and get some football tickets for the weekend. We had ear-marked the Corinthians vs Palmeiras game as the one we wanted to see, mainly has it has been classed as one of the ten most fierce and rivalled derbies in the world, which meant this was a must see game, I had a feeling the game would be a sell-out though so our Plan B was to go and see Santos who had seen the likes of Pele and Neymar play for them in the past. After trawling the internet for ways to find tickets I came up with zilch. So I decided the best bet would be to head to the stadium where there would surely be a ticket office to purchase a ticket. So Alejandra, Earl and I took the long metro ride to Arena Corinthians. As for as stadiums go this one wasn't the best, actually maybe the worse I have come across, especially for how big the club side are. I'd even go as far as saying that Watford's home ground Vicarage Road tops it. Anyway we arrived and had a stroll round the stadium where we found nothing. However, having Alejandra with us was a blessing. Spanish is the language of Colombia, but she was also pretty fluent in Portuguese after spending five months in Sao Paulo. She managed to communicate with some of the security guards and found out that there was no ticket office at the stadium, they advised us to go to a nearby shopping centre where we would find a Corinthians shop and they would be able to give us better information. So off we toddled to the shopping centre, where the shop was typically located on the top floor at the back end of the mall. Alejandra once again took control whilst Earl and I stood on with no idea what was happening. There was good news and bad news from the conversation; we knew where to go get tickets - a place called Parque San Jorge. But the shop had informed Alejandra that because it was a massive derby the likelihood would be the game would be a sell-out and it was also another tedious metro journey away. Undeterred, I rallied the troops in all hope of getting a ticket. We got to Parque San Jorge and thankfully there were tickets, unfortunately they were pricier than I thought, 180BR (£45) for a ticket. Earl not being a football man declined immediately, I on the other decided not to pass up this once in a lifetime opportunity and snagged myself a ticket. I was then even more surprised that Alejandra also decided to get herself a ticket too. Going to one of the world's fiercest derbies with a hot Colombian chick, could it get much better than that? With the tickets in possession we headed back to the house.
As Earl and I had cooked up some culinary treats the previous two nights, the Colombians had kindly offered to repay the favour this night. We were banished from the kitchen for want semt an eternity for our hungry stomachs. The wait was totally worth it as we were presented with a kind of Chicken lasagne with white sauce, accompanied with a tomato, onion and avocado salad and also some herbed bread. It was delicious and easily rivalled our meals we had cooked. There was even desert with a pre-purchased coconut cake which was also very tasty. After food, we took it upon ourselves to teach the girls some ore drinking games, these ranged from Ring of Fire, Fuzzy Duck and Goggles. In turn they tried to teach us to Samba, with much difficulty apparently our hips do not move as well as Latin Americans.
I'd love to tell you the interesting story of the next day, but it was very chilled bordering boring. The most excitement I got from the day was having a shave watching The Nut Job and The Lego Movie which is a very good film. That night Earl had a date with a girl we had met last time around in Sao Paulo, so he jazzed himself up to go out on the town with Big Julie, whilst I sat on my laptop in the corner of the kitchen listening to two Colombians girls speak Spanish all night, the only word I understood was when they said yes or a place in Brazil. I did however manage to do some good research and my future travel plans, have a rough idea in my head of where and when I wanted to be going places and also found a good website which gave six different methods to teach people how to roll r's I hoped I could pick this up quick to impress my Colombian hosts. Alejandra and Veronica said their goodnights leaving me at the table so I also fled the kitchen to the sanctuary of my room where I watched a really crap film called Save the Date and also Captain America: Winter's Soldier.
The next day after a good skype session with my former Man cave roommate Tom Ellis I made a plan, I wanted to find the Colombians presents for hosting us for free for a week, and being good hosts. So my journey took me into the city where I went on a wild goose chase looking for a Spanish to English phrasebook I could get Alejandra to improve her English for when she visits England one day. As I say though it turned out to be a wild goose chase, the few book stores I located I only found Portuguese to English or Portuguese to Spanish, I shouldn't have been surprised though seen as though Brazil was a non-Spanish speaking country it would be like going into WH Smiths at home and finding a book translating Spanish to Chinese. So I came home after several hours, wet from the Sao Paulo drizzle and empty handed.
I decided Earl and myself would give the Colombians another taste of English food, so that night we cooked up a Shepherd's pie which the Colombians gave a ten out of ten again, there was probably being polite again, but even though I do say so myself it was pretty tasty. We had taught the Colombians many drinking games he previous night but there was still time for them to learn some new ones as we taught them spoons and high jack, many beers, vodka and cachaça was drunk leading to drunken wrestling over warm socks, samba dancing and general drunken antics.
Grease was the first thing in order for the next day. I wasn't too hungover but new a greasy burger of some kind would sort me out. So I toddled off to the supermarket got some pork and eggs and knocked up a pork and fried egg sarnie which hit the spot. The next plan of action was to get ready, I was off out with Alejandra, it was game day at last and time to go and see Corinthians vs Palmeiras. We got kitted out in our football strips - hers Colombian and mine my united jersey and set off to the game. One of my favourite days out is a game day, for me the atmosphere, banter and everything just makes for a great day. When we hit the metro though we discovered that a stop we needed to get off at wasn't running so that made the long journey even longer having to take four lines to reach our destination. It gave us chance to get to know each other better, we had a good chat about football I found out that she supports Nacional in Colombia and goes to watch them regularly and her favourite player is the dread locked winger Cuadrado. She was also surprised to hear that Woman in England aren't that big on football replying with a high pitched 'Whhhaaattt' It passed the time and eventually we were at the ground, Alejandra was too hungover to drink, so I had to give three of my beers I had took to the game to poncho selling ******ers. I have already expressed for the outside of this stadium when we went to buy tickets, but inside it was much better, which is more I can say for the first half which would have sent me to sleep but for my desperate need of the toilet and the fans chanting. The second half improved slightly as Corinthians scored twice to earn two zip victory. The quality was very poor, probably better than the AA-League but I expected better, one of the gals even bounced in off the keeper. What I couldn't fault though was the atmosphere, the crowd were on their feet all game singing, chanting, dancing and not just one section of the ground either, or small parts it was the entire stadium. Alejandra asked if it was like it in England which I said no but the quality is football better, I promised her that I would take her to a Manchester United and England game if she ever visited the UK, who knows may even make her suffer a Stags game too. We made our way back home taking the same four tedious metro lines, Alejandra was leaving the next day so she spent the night sorting her s*** out and packing, Veronica was busy with her masters work and Earl was out in Vila Madelena with his date from the previous night, so I had a good skype with Jack Turner I chilled out watching old wrestling matches on you tube.
After ordering my nephews birthday present which would be in a couple of weeks I had come up with another gift idea for the Colombians. It was simple - playing cards so they could learn the games we had taught them. The problem was that I would have no idea where I could find or what sort of shop would sell them. But I headed out anyway, not long into my trip I found a shop which sold all sorts of knick-knacks so I thought that might be a good shop, I found various games and thinks from skipping ropes to stationary to paint brushes but I couldn't seem to find a deck of cards. Just as I was about to ask the gentleman behind the counter I noticed in the corner of my eye some dominoes, as I took a closer look, I noticed there in all their glory glistening a two pack of playing cards for only £1.25. Feeling good about me I also purchased a small red and black football which would be aimed at curing my desire to play football again.
I had a bee in my bonnet for the rest of the day baking an Orange sponge cake, preparing dinner which would consist of a chicken stuffed with Philadelphia cheese wrapped in Ham, Dauphinoise potatoes and fried eggplant. Alejandra had gave us the news that he friends plane was delayed by 24 ours so now she was off to Rio the following night, this was good news for me because the oven was being really slow and Alejandra was a cool girl so I was glad she was there for our last night. I'm pretty sure the Colombians loved the food they gave me a 12/10 and 15/10 for the cake and dinner. They were also happy with the cards I had got them. The rest of the night turned into a bit of a blur as much cachaça and beers were drunk, we played cabeza de meirda (s*** head) which they said was their favourite game of the week and also High Jack. The night was full of much drunken shenanigans, selfies and shots.
I often rant in my blogs about meeting people, forming a quality bond with them and then having to say goodbye and this time was no different from the thousands of other times. If I could only create a community where it was just me and everyone I had met it would be sensational. I had become quite close with The Colombians and Alejandra in particular; we shared love of a lot of things like football, arctic monkeys, beers and face paint. But now it was time to say goodbye we were to set off for ventures new. She was also travelling South America until November so I hoped we would bump into each other again on our travels and I also told her as I told Veronica and their other Colombian friends they were welcome in England anytime and I would be very happy to show them around. They were very excited of the possibility of going to Europe's biggest sun-dial, go to a festival and see the home of Robin Hood and also more notorious land marks such as Stonehenge.
So after saying our farewells to our awesome Colombian hosts we headed off, but before our bus we had a few other matters to deal with in Sao Paulo. First up was Angelica's Grill. Angelica's Grill is a churrascaria. If you are unfamiliar with a churrascaria they are a typical Brazilian restaurant that serves you at your table with a selection of all you can eat barbequed meats. We had wanted to visit one for quite some time, pretty much the length of our stay in Brazil as soon as we had heard of them but were always put off by the prize tag which game with this which was often over 100BR. However, we caught wind of one in Sao Paulo that if you visited the eatery during the week the cost of the meal would be 55BR. Not being able to find anything cheaper we decided to head to Angelica's Grill. The restaurant was nice and I wasn't use to the service we received, the waiters taking my hoody and hanging it up, our bags, I felt a bit like royalty and totally out of my depth. The set up was simple there was a buffet table with salads, sushi and even lasagne amongst other things you could help yourself too and waiters would come over offering various meats and potato products which included garlic beef, chicken heart and ribs. This kind of eatery would usually be right up my street but due to the events of the previous night and maybe a touch of the trots the experience was a tad wasted on me. I managed to try several meats, but by my own high standards at all you can eat type buffets I was extremely disappointed. Feeling completely stuffed we left but still had several hours to roam Sao Paulo. With the free time I managed to get my s*** mopped hair trimmed and also stumbled across a hairdressers called 'Niggaz - Black Power' now imagine if that opened up anywhere else in the politically correct world. I imagine s*** would kick off which is unfortunate. It was time to say goodbye to Sao Paulo anyway and it would hold some fantastic memories from both of our visits, it might not have been the prettiest of cities but we had many good times there with top class people.
So until next time stay safe and take care