This is a post I wrote on the bus from Sao Paulo to Rio de Janeiro, but I had to wait until we had wi-fi to post it.

We’re leaving Sao Paulo now. And we’re taking the bus to Rio. To do that we had to take the subway from our hotel to the Rodoviaria Tiete. Tiete is a massive bus station; last night Laura read somewhere that it’s the largest (and most crime ridden) in South America. Needless to say, that had me a bit worried that we’d run into some insurmountable obstacle.

As always though, things worked out just fine. In fact it was really easy to get to the station, buy our tickets (R$125 for both) and get on the bus.

The whole experience seemed to be characteristic of how things have been going over the past few days: I get stressed that something will go wrong, but then everything comes together. It’s great. Obviously we’re only a few days into our trip, but the things I was most worried about are already behind us.

Speaking of which, Sao Paulo ended up being a much more laid back experience than I had anticipated. When I first came to the city years ago as a missionary, it seemed like a confused, dystopiaj nightmere. In a way, I liked that about it; it was confusing and chaotic but also sort of exciting. Still, the prospect of returning to what I remembered as an immeasurably exotic, Gothem-esque concrete jungle was daunting.

What stands out, however, about this trip to Sao Paulo is just how ordinary the city has seemed. A lot of that was probably due to the fact that we stayed in one the wealthiest areas and did a bunch of touristy things, but I’m not sure that accounts for my entire shift in perception.

There are probably a lot of other factors that rendered Sao Paulo less intimidating. For one, I speak the language now. Even with all the time that has passed since my mission I still speak much better now than I did when I entered the MTC, or when I left it.

Also, I’ve traveled a lot more since my last visit to the city. When I came to Sao Paulo the first time the only other foreign city I had visited was Tijuana. Now, I think and hope, I’m more acustomed to the quirks and and intricacies of a foreign megapolis. However, for whatever reason, Sao Paulo has seemed very doable and enjoyable.

On the other hand, it is still a massive city. In the area we stayed in it was filled with skyscrapers. Avenida Paulista is ofter referred to as the Brazilian Times Square (including by me in an earlier post) and that’s not a bad comparison. However, I honestly think it’s more like Canal Street in New Orleans. The buildings are more comparable in size to those in New Orleans and there’s a lot more vegetation than in New York. In fact, Laura frequently commented that she’d never seen such a dense urban area with so many trees and plants everywhere. In the end, then, Sao Paulo has turned out quite well.


Written by Jim Dalrymple II

Urbanism and travel writer. Also a journalist covering the news.

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