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Published: September 30th 2017
Geo: -23.5489, -46.6388
Chicago deep dish pizza - I was looking forward to trying this during my layover at O'Hare because of its reputation as being some fine pizza. But ... ugh ... not so great - very oily with an overly doughy crust. I suppose you can't expect much from airport food! Funny - South America has a bit of a reputation for being hard on travelers' stomachs, but this pizza ended up giving me some bad stomach issues before even getting to Brazil! This evil pizza made for an annoying first few days of the trip.
But despite this minor setback, I was finally in Braziiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiil!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was a hell of a trip getting here and it definitely took its toll ... there's nothing like being able to stretch your legs after a long, long flight. Over the years, I've heard much about Brazil but was still a bit surprised by the sight greeting me as I stepped out of customs and into the airport terminal - a choir of Japanese people singing Christmas songs in Portuguese. This shouldn't have been a surprise as I know that Brazil does have the largest Japanese population outside of Japan, over 1.5 million
Traditional Meal of Minas Gerias ...
Tutu (sp?) - a bean dish, with rice, couve (chopped up leafy greens sauteed with garlic and onions - excellent), fried manioc chunks (like drier fries), and salted beef cooked with garlic and onions. Super-hearty meal.
Quite the process getting to Vila Madalena, a funky little neighbourhood that will be my home for the next few days in Sao Paulo. From the airport I hopped a bus, which took over an hour to get me to a metro station, and from there an hour ride on the metro, with two transfers. And then ... a 30 minute taxi ride to the Casa Club Hostel. It should've only been a 5-10 minute ride, but the driver had incorrectly read the address on the printout I had given him. This little error highlighted Sao Paulo's reputation of having terrible traffic - despite us winding up only 8 blocks from our intended destination, it took forever to make it that short distance. Welcome to a city with 20 million people in its metropolitan area!
Not much planned for today other than a quick shower and a nap, before meeting up with Solange for dinner. The rain started coming down hard, which delayed our plans a bit - she lives not too far away from Vila Madalena, but apparently even a moderate amount of rain can cause flooding and huge (even huger than normal) traffic jams in Sao Paulo.
Cat Patrol ...
Solange's band - coming soon to a stadium near you!
ended up taking me to a nearby restaurant that serves the cuisine of Minas Gerais, a state renowned as having some of the best cuisine that Brazil has to offer. It was a great introduction to Brazil, catching up with a friend, and seeing where our lives have recently taken us since we hadn't spoken much since first meeting a few years ago in Norway.
Soon after that, she had started a new job which she loved, and is continuing to love. And her music career, which was seemingly her greater passion, seems to have taken off with new band members and a CD in the works, now that they have hooked up with some renowned Brazilian producers.
For a moment, I was brought back to a night we shared a drink in Oslo (operative word being drink and not drinks - Oslo is EXPENSIVE!!!). We've always shared similar thoughts on life and fate, and talked about epiphanies, and tonight was no different. The way things have recently unfolded for her band Cat Patrol, simply can't just be coincidence. She talked of a band member who recently left, and immediately the mood of the band became more positive. The next thing you know, out of the blue that renowned music producer called, after having met Solange in passing over 15 years earlier.
And ... despite fate assuredly wanting her to end up with a Swedish guy (we first met when she was on her way to Sweden to meet one), she's now dating a Brazilian of Spanish descent - her band member! If, of all people, Solange could wind up with a non-Swede, is it possible that my own fate could be in question? Perhaps my own fate isn't as irrevocably tied to Spain as we had all thought ...
Of course, as the discussion turned to my recent life, it was a lot of "Uh ... well work is good, it's still going ok. I've still been traveling to Spain. A LOT. And ... uh ... yeah, still traveling lots." Perhaps one day I will grow up and be able to say that my dreams are coming true, but it definitely wouldn't be as fun. And ... come to think of it ... all this travel is kind of a dream come true, isn't it?
In the end, today was a bit of a blur - between the long flight, jet lag, lack of sleep on the plane, and the stomach problems which now replaced the yellow fever vaccine's side effects, I wanted nothing more than to crash as soon as she dropped me off. Gotta regain my strength to prepare for all that Brazil has to offer!
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