Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Leaving São Paulo

My cousin Amanda just left for the airport, so now it is time to summarize the last week of craziness in SP and Ilhabela. Before I do that, I must say, this week away from work, in which I have been able to utterly and completely relax in the city, go out to dinner, have drinks, and stay up till 5 am to watch Medical Detectives on a school night if I feel like it has really made me realize the following:

a) work sucks the fun entirely out of life
b) I have not seen enough of this city and am going to miss it terribly

But anyway, let us get to the juicy details of the past week.

Wednesday

My last day of work. Joyous. Amanda got in that night and we went and got a late Italian dinner at a place near my house called Osteria.

Thursday

Spent the day canvassing Shopping Ibirapuera, then went out to dinner with Mariana at a place in Jardins called Insalata. Deliciousssssss! We had lovely fresh bruschetta and salads and a nice bottle of Chilean cabernet, mmmm. We chatted about girly stuff, which is always refreshing.

Friday

Went shopping on Oscar Freire, and went to one of the city~s best coffee houses, Santo Grão. They offered an espresso desgustação, or tasting, of 4 Brazilian coffees. Yep, 4 shots of espresso, in fairly rapid succession, for each taster. Of course, we jumped on it. It was a really interesting experience because normally, when I drink espresso, it just tastes like, ya know, espresso. It all sort of tastes the same until you actually get to try one kind after another and notice the big differences in acidity, body, aftertaste, and sweetness in each. It was so cool. Needless to say, after 4 shots each of some strong-ass Brazilian coffee plus a plate of Nutella-filled crepes, Amanda and I were in a state of giddy delight. We did some more caffeine/Nutella fueled shopping, then went home to recover from the harsh coffee downer.

That night we went to Na Mata Café, a club which I had heard a lot about but of course had never visited, with M and her boyfriend. It was the first positive house music experience I have ever had! Not that I am some sort of ear-bleeding techno convert now, but this was quite pleasant. We danced till about 2 then got in line to leave, and ended up not being able to pay for over an hour. Longest line EVER, and people kept cutting. Being total Anglos, Amanda and I were internally flipping out with righteous indignation, but luckily we met some cool Brazilian guys behind us and chatted to them, which helped pass the time a little. We got home at around 4 and then got sucked into an intriguing episode of Medical Detectives, so it ended up being a late night.

Saturday

Is it bad that I dont remember what we did during the day? Chances are, it involved shopping of some sort. I did a lot of "eye shopping" rather than actually purchasing anything, since I sort of, you know, don´t have a job anymore. That tends to put a cramp in my consumption. Anyhoo, that night we went to Skye Bar -- where else -- at the fabulous Unique to meet up with Nicola and Gabriel for drinks. After some chit chat and caipirinhas -- and those fabulous, fabulous peanuts -- we headed to a spectacular Japanese restaurant in Jardins called Nakasa. We ordered 100 pieces of sushi and 2 bottles of Chandon brut and went to town. A little bit of heaven, as Amanda says. Yum! So nice to go out to dinner in SP after all this time of being cooped up at work.

Sunday to Tuesday

We went to Ilhabela, the fancy schmancy resort island for São Paulo´s richies, for a few days. We took a bus to the town of São Sebastião, which is the closest place to Ilhabela. It was a relatively comfortable 3.5 hour journey, but then we had to struggle about a half mile from the bus station to the ferry in the blazing sun with our bags. This would have been okay if I had not been wearing dark jeans, it had not been a thousand million degrees, and my freaking roll-y suitcase actually freaking rolled. It did not ROLL! I had to drag it along like an ornery child the entire way, with me cursing and sweating. It was a looooong walk, let´s just put it that way.

We took a nice little ferry over to Ilhabela, then checked into our gorgeous inn, the Pousada dos Hibiscos. Overall, the pousada was fantastic, except for one glaring exception. Outside, by the cutesy lil pool, which had a charming arbor draped with hibiscus (hence the name), there were the most evil-looking bugs I have ever seen in my life. I´m talking nightmare-inducing. And this is coming from a girl who had cockroaches in her shower in Cuba. These bugs were something else -- you know the movie Naked Lunch? It was like that awful talking bug with the typewriter wings, except worse. These things had hairy legs and they were fat and bumped into stuff and I was SURE one of them was going to fly up my nostrils, but then I realized, those bugs were TOO BIG to fit up my nostrils, which was NO comfort whatsoever.

Anyway, we pretty much spent all day Monday sweating profusely by the pool -- me keeping a watchful eye on the insects -- then taking a walk around the vila. The town was adorável. Cute boutiques with hand-painted signs and little seafood restaurants and a nice park right on the water. Very cute. Again, the blistering heat prevented us from spending too much time meandering, so we went back to the hotel, rested, then went out and ate boatloads of delicious shrimp. Mmmm, shrimp.

After eating a fabulous, nutella-ful breakfast on Tuesday, we bid the strange little check-in man goodbye and got in a cab to go to the ferry to go to the bus station. Things were dandy until we got on our bus, the interior of which was roughly the temperature of a confectioner´s oven, and were told that the bus had no air conditioning. Yuuuup. Even the Brazilians were sweating and fanning themselves, and my poor little San Francisco-bred cousin was ready to pass out. She was a good sport though. Three and a half LONG, grimy hours later, we arrived in SP, lar doce lar, and went shopping. Duh!

I broke down and bought some leather shoes -- SUPER cute -- and a new suitcase, since the other one proved itself to be spastic and unreliable in Ilhabela. We then set off for a meat extravaganza at Fogo do Chão, one of the most famous rodizios in Brazil. You know you´re living the good life when guys in gaucho pants and crazy strappy boots are swirling around you offering you bottom sirloin, chicken hearts (gag) and even HUMP meat. We ate ourselves silly, split a bottle of Santa Julia malbec, then tried to avoid the rapid onset of meat coma. To reinvigorate ourselves, we went back to Skye Bar where Jaime came and met us for a drink or three. Yeah, what a night.

Today

We woke up at 11 or so, lazed around, went and got sushi in my neighborhood, then I started the arduous task of packing my entire apartment into a couple of suitcases. Ugh! I ended up leaving a LOT of stuff in the house, including a crapload of clothes, my busted work shoes, my George Foreman, assorted comestibles, 3 empty suitcases, a full bottle of Sagatiba cachaça, my hairdryer, lots of magazines, etc., etc., etc. I feel like the ladies who clean my apartment can maybe get more use out of all of it than I can, so I will just leave it for them. My cousin left at 6:30 to fly back to San Francisco, and now I am all alone, gearing up for my flight tomorrow to Salvador, where I´ll meet up with cousin Emily for a week long adventure in the Northeast. Whee!

So, all in all, the last week has been great. It stil doesn´t feel real that I am leaving São Paulo, that this is my last night in Topee Lifee, that I may never again work out with the beautiful people at Reebok or almost get hit by a bike delivery boy on my way to work. Aaah, I´ll miss it. Since I only have 5 minutes left on this internet card, I don´t have time to get all reflective about the city, but I´ll get there eventually. For now, I will sign off, and pick up again in the Northeast! Onwards, baby.




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