Managed to find a hostel very easily on the first night. I went to the information desk at the São Paulo bus stop, she wrote down a list of hostels near one of the stations and I had to try two before I found one with beds, it was really nice. Note to self, ask tourist info, nothing went wrong.
The first day was spent walking around Santa Cecilia with my friend Becca. She showed me the first building (tall) in São Paulo. She is very interested in architecture so that was the main focus of the information which was good as São Paulo is basically just Skyscrapers.
My whole time in São Paulo seems to have been spent in dodgey areas but not once has anyone tried to rob us, which was cool considering everyone I have spoken to has given some sort of negative account of São Paulo and even Becca says she has had people attempt to rob her five times whilst living there. One of the first things Becca told me was some rules about walking after dark.
1. Walk fast
2. If someone tries to stop you to ask something just carry on
3. Never take phone out at night and only limited money
Apparently this is how they play pool in brazil. Playing pool here is good and bad. It is good because no one knows how to play. Not only do they play it wrong but they are all really shit so as an English person you can pretty much be the boss wherever you go. It is bad because every game takes ages unless you are actually good and then you’ll just win every time. We got drunk at a really cool little rock cafe and afterwards we headed for the areas Becca liked to go.
So at the end of a night out when we were both very drunk Becca wanted to show me the worm hole
Worm Hole and Crack Alley
We had finished drinking with beccas friends and Becca decided to take me to a place called the worm hole
The worm hole is a main motorway tunnel which has been shut. It used to be a party venue as a result which I can imagine being incredible but the city had shut it at the end of the road so no one goes there any more. That is apart from the most desperate and deprived homeless people…and us
It is next to a road which is still active which means parts of it are really loud. It was like something out of an apocalypse movie. In one part the city had installed blue lights: something to do with homeless people. Either to stop smack heads using needles (pretty sure you can’t see veins under blue light) or to stop people sleeping there (difficult to sleep under blue light?) so the few homeless that were there were clearly the most desperate. They hid behind the large pillars with the cars thundering past, it looked like a horrible existence but when we walked past one guy and he caught our eyes he still nodded and smiled.
The final part of the journey took us down another shut road. It was a flyover which the city shuts after 10pm so that residents in the adjacent tower blocks can sleep.
As a result, at night, the road is lined with junkies, but they seemed to want to keep themselves to themselves. I guess no one really walks there so they don’t expect to be robbing people, they just want somewhere quiet to do their drugs. There was only really one point where I felt a little nervous and stashed my credit card in my boxers, and that was when there was a large group of them and they were all messing and joking around. But they barely paid any attention to us and we walked by without problems.
The final event of the Saturday was a graffiti and hip hop event in an unpacified favela. Now since coming to Brazil I have heard nothing but bad news about unpacified favelas. Stories of people going there to buy drugs and seeing young guys standing in the road with guns…basically nothing good.
So when we arrived and I saw this huge favela, bigger than any I had seen in Rio, I instantly started to wonder what the hell we were playing at. I knew we would have to find this event and could end up walking in to trouble
I asked Becca whether she thought it dangerous but in her usual style she replied ‘nahh, they’re just poor people they’re not dangerous’, which is true, but it wasn’t the general population I was worried about, it was the dealers and users.
So we got in to the favela and asked a nice looking lady where the place was. She smiled and pointed us up the hill. All well so far. After about 2 minutes walking though I heard 5 gunshots and immediately knew we were fucked. I turned to Becca and looked around but no one looked in the slightest bit concerned. Kids carried on playing, everyone carried on their business
Becca shortly informed me that it was actually fireworks, and they let them off to let people know the police are around. So I felt a BIT stupid for cacking my pants, but, the fact still remains that the people who let off fireworks to warn about the police are the criminals, so they were close.
We got to the festival and it was awesome, there were 120 graffiti artists and some serious talent. The hip hop was incredible and after the first acts the sun was due to go down.
Becca then turns to me and says ‘hey, so, you fancy going soon?’
Now I could tell that she wasn’t just bored of the festival. So I asked her, ‘hey, why now, is it because it’s gonna get dark soon?’
And then she finally admitted that maybe this place wasn’t safe and actually she didn’t know what it would be like after dark, so we made our retreat down the hill to the bus stop.
Overall it was a really cool day and it was nice to see that actually the unpacified favelas aren’t these crime and drug-ridden places that you can never see. I still wouldn’t wonder in to an unpacified one without the right company/intention but at the right time they are an incredible place to be…said the rich white guy who doesn’t have to live there.
I left for Florianopolis on the Monday. But first I painted a huge piece on a main motorway during busy traffic in broad daylight. Brazil is awesome for this sort of thing. As long as you aren’t tagging, even if the wall was previously clean you can just go paint what you want (within reason) so Becca took me to this wall and I did a nice big piece with rollers. Becca didn’t like it even though I made the O into a flippin pigeon at her request.
In the afternoon I headed to the bus station for a 12 hour bus to the final destination of the trip: Florianopolis, Apparently it’s a surf and beach venue which is perfect, I’ve had enough of cities for now, and I wanna learn how to surf. I’ve booked a couple of nights at a surf hostel from a friends advice. Free surf boards and £7 a night.