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The Sao Paulo Metro

The San Paulo metro is modern, and so far what I have seen of it is safe.  It is not idiot-proof however, and I made a number of bone-head mistakes.


It was crowded, but I have been on plenty of crowded metros in DC.

Lilac Metro line

I took it in the morning around 7:30am, intending to go in the direction from Moema to Borbogata, which is four stops on the Lilac line.  The Metro here on the Lilac line is clean. The platform has a safety wall with sliding doors, unlike the Metros I used in DC. The crazy incidents you hear about where someone pushes a person in front of the train can’t happen here.

Bone-head mistake #1. I didn’t notice that I was the only person not wearing a mask. I don’t think anyone was staring at me, until I was approached on the train by a guard who said things in Portuguese that I mostly did not under except when he pointed to his face and said “Mascara”, which really didn’t require translation.

Bone-head mistake #2. The way I normally use a Metro is to study the endpoints and make sure I choose the correct endpoint, which defines the direction of travel. Today, for the second time (!), I mixed up the endpoints, boarding the train heading in the exact opposite direction. So now, four stops became twelve, the first four being in the wrong direction, the next eight (now in the correct direction) making up for the mistake and advancing me to the final destination, which is Borbogata.

Exiting Metro at Bobogata

Uber ride home

Sao Paulo is a great city, but like most big cities has dirty and cluttered parts and lots of grafiti.

You can try Google Translate on this to read what this says.

Cristo Redentor

It is inconceivable that one would come to Rio de Janeiro and not see the “Christ the Redeemer” statue.

No different than any other visitor, we too, wanted to see the iconic statue, one of the modern wonders of the world.

Pão de Queijo….not

(10 January, 2023). We stopped for a quick lunch on the road between San Carlos and Campinas. This could be what happens when you order cafe and pão de queijo from a McDonald’s kiosk in Brazil, they turn out not to have it, and they do an elaborate substitution that you agree to because you can’t speak Portuguese and they can’t speak English. Since we were 25+ minutes behind schedule, I was glad to get the bag, not knowing what was inside. I did actually eat this. It appears to be not a traditional Pão de Queijo (Brazilian cheese bread), but apparently two pancakes with cheese melted. Effectively, a grilled cheese sandwich using pancakes instead of bread.

Sao Paulos – the “Motos”

There is a lot of petty crime here, most of which is cell phone thefts.  The “motos” swarm like mosquitos through traffic fearlessly, forming lanes “on the fly”zipping around cars.  I have never seen anything like that.  Any one of those motos could swoop a phone out of the hands of a distracted person waiting on an Uber.

On the good side, you can order things and have them delivered fast.  I ordered a bottle of Contreau and from when we clicked submit bottle was in my hand in 9 minutes.  Even with the service fees, the total cost was less than the bottle costs on the shelf in the US.  Some 200,000 people do this for a living (~1% of the 20M people that live here I guess).  Anyone with a  motorbike, a thermal box, and a cell phone is an Uber-like entrepreneur. I see them sitting on the sidewalks, waiting for the next order.  It seems a miserable way to make a living.  

And our car has not shipped yet, so we use Ubers to go everywhere.  Cost to go to work is about $5 USD.    It cost me that much in gas in the US.  They get there fast, though the ride is often bumpy.  But there is extreme poverty, and only 10% speak English.  And SP is as good as it gets, it’s much worse the further North or South you go from what I hear.  My Portuguese is bad, and I need to up my fluency.  Anyway, I think this will be an adventure.

Pastel – Hostess Pies on Steroids

While walking through our first open air market, the kind where they close down the street for several blocks, we found the “Pastel”.

They are like a fried pie, and come in many flavors.

We tried a couple, one was a broccoli and cheese, the other chocolate.

The only way I could think of describing them in terms familiar to Americans is “Hostess Pie on steroids”. They are most certainly unhealthy, but good. The crispy fried crust and fillings create a tempting and potent combination. Rumor is that they evolved from Chinese living in Brazil who were making something like egg rolls, but adapted to be more appealing to Brazilians.

Bureaucracy is the gut biome of the government

I’m just saying. It is sometimes called the fourth branch of the government. Unlike the other three it is not structured but appears to be an inevitable byproduct that forms when the system we call government is created. I think our best attempts to get rid of it have failed. And as we sometimes see, that may not altogether be a bad thing. In the case of your own gut biome, you cannot directly control it. I sometimes refer to a “brain in my stomach”, and I will admit to the idea that it has an awareness that seems quite independent of my conscious will. It seems to know when I’m not home. It seems to know when I am home. But in the case of the government it acts as a form of viscous impedance. That viscosity is generally considered a bad thing, but it does serve to keep things from coming off the rails, whether the rails represent a good direction or a bad direction.