Very small update as we have little access to internet. Now in Sao Paulo which is big and ugly. We are both well and Jodies´ cold is improving. Will update more when we get WiFi.
We left Paraty and took the bus 6 hrs south to Sao Paulo. The buses here are great. Not too expensive, on time, leave and arrive in secure locations, and have almost 'lie flat' beds. At worst they do videos……….English videos, dubbed into Portuguese with bad English sub tittles .Even better, they make no attempt to match the film to the passenger demographic, so god knows what the 11 year olds felt about the S&M murder movie I have no idea. I guess bed wetting may be on the up.
When not watching the telly, the views out of the window where spectacular, with long deserted beaches, crashing waves and lush green mountains featuring most of the way, until they gave way to Sao Paulo's shanty towns and suburbs. Sao Paulo is huge and rather ugly and 20 million people (which I think is a lot) mostly live in tower blocks and shanty towns. We spent the first night in a Formula 1 hotel near the Jardins district, which is one of the better parts of the city. Formula 1 hotels (a French chain) are fine; secure, clean and cheap. On the downside the 'restaurant' consisted of a counter with a microwave and a place selling microwave meals. The room was too small to swing a fluffy kitten and you could hear the neighbouring rooms every movement. Unluckily for them, they probably had the same problem. Nice as it was, early the next morning I spent a couple of hours touring the area looking for more suitable digs and found a new place which is a classic. For a few dollars more we get breakfast, a separate bathroom, a sitting room, American kitchen (i.e. one that can only handle heating processed food) and an empty swimming pool on the roof. The pay-off is that there are prostitutes outside the door and we are at the very edge of the safe area, but it is safe enough. The rooms are spotless but the décor is so dated I keep thinking Jim Rockford is about to walk in. If it ain't a shade of beige or avocado it doesn't get a look in. We took a while working out which our favourite picture was: perhaps it was the faded print of two fluffy white kittens (obviously the ones that could not fit in the Formula 1) next to a bunch of roses, but the three children (one with mullet and football top) looking out over a lake at three phantom horses flying over a castle was a close second.
We were not impressed by Sao Paulo to begin with. It is big and dirty and a walk downtown on Saturday found us amongst graffiti covered, decaying buildings and the vagrants outnumbered the normal people. I was glad that Jodie's cold prevented her from smelling anything as urine was the dominate odour. Things did pick up and we found a very pleasant park, some nice places to eat and found out that downtown Sao Paulo is a bit like The City and comes alive during the week. On Sunday we travelled to a suburb (about 30km from the centre) which has a outdoor market in a cobbled historic centre. The market was fine and on the way home we were treated to more Brazilian helpfulness. In order to find out how to get back into town, I popped into a chemist to ask in very poor Spanish where the bus left from. The girl did not know, so asked a girl in the shop next door, who asked a chap, who knew what we needed to do and explained rapidly in Portuguese. He obviously recognised that the startled rabbit look on my face indicated I didn't understand a word he was saying. At this stage I am sure many Brits would be walking away muttering about 'bloody tourists'. Thankfully this bloke came over to the bus stop when the right bus was inbound, made sure we got on, briefed the driver where we needed to get off and asked him to make sure that we did. About an hour later muttering began at the front of the bus as the message was passed back that the English people needed to get off. A young girl who could speak English then took us off the bus, guided us to the metro station, got us on the train using her pass, then made sure we got off in the right place. Now that's hospitality!
The night before we left we went to the Opera in the Municipal Theatre. Like the opera house in Hanoi it is a scaled down version of the Paris Opera House (but bigger than the one in Hanoi) which meant that rather weirdly we knew our way around even before we went through the door. It was in much better nick than Hanoi and instead of enduring one half of a bad Vietnamese orchestra playing to about 100 people, we were treated to a very professional performance of Samson and Delilah in a full house. I will always be disappointed by opera. In my youth I always imagined Delilah to be a gorgeous petite blond, rather like Kylie. Unfortunately, girls built like Kylie are great at singing 'I should be so lucky' with the aid of microphones, but are pretty crap at belting out big numbers in opera houses. This is the preserve of hefty lasses. This is why I am invariably disappointed; the leading ladies are nearly always…………………. mingers.