Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sampa III: back to Bom Retiro

(Red alert! I'm backtracking in order to cover last month's Sampa visit, and I am going to blitz you over the next few days.)

I have always loved take-off. I was doubly excited as I left Porto Alegre on a rainy day because rainy-day flying feels better. Once the plane gets above the clouds, I feel like I'm in some sort of heaven. It helps me to remember that happy blue skies still exist even when all I see is dreary gray.

While waiting for my tiny luggage at Garulhos airport, I was approached by a woman in her 60's who asked me if the baggage had appeared yet. As we were among the first people to deboard, I paused in confusion. I darted my eyes toward the empty carousel, the growing crowd of passengers, and back at the woman. "Umm, não, ainda não chegam." Tipped off by the plastic Gol cup and the emergency procedures card from the seatback pocket sticking out of her purse, I sussed out that she had probably never flown before. I entertained myself during the short wait by imagining what she was thinking about her experience at 35,000 feet. I hoped she had enjoyed the adjusted perspective on our sky as much as I had.

When I went to São Paulo in April, there were many places I had in mind to explore. However, because the evenings at Casa Club were so fun, I didn't get around to several of my To-Do list items by day. This time I was determined to balance the, um, socializing with my other errands and reconnaissance tasks. (Yes, I am in the process of looking for a suitable home for the next chapter in my Brazilian adventure.)

Even though shopping isn't one of my favored pastimes, I headed back to Rua José Paulino in the Bom Retiro neighborhood to look for some practical summer sandals and tops. There were slimmer pickings this time around, but I managed to score a few fashionable items at decent prices.

Better than the shopping, a few storefronts caught my attention.
"As Patricinhas de Bom Rills"?
(I imagine that "Bom Rills" is some sort of pun on Bom Retiro-meets-Beverly Hills.)

How shall I explain patricinhas to you? Chicagoans might understand a rough translation (minus the critical cultural nuance that hints at wealth, in a country that has a notoriously vast canyon between its haves and have-nots) via the pseudo-parallel slang, "Trixie". Looking closer at the mannequins' "thoughts," we have: "pouutz" (the equivalent, in this case, of a dimwitted whine); a question mark; a shoe; and a man's face. The Queen Heather, as it were, commands her entourage: "Girls, maintain the pose!"

Though I understand I'm probably unintentionally feeding into some sexism here, I have seen so many of these, ahem, characters in Porto Alegre that the storefront warranted my exasperated chortle.

This shop, a fitness store, was simply entertaining for its Lost-In-Translation-ness.

After shopping, I took a closer look at the area surrounding Estação da Luz...

...which includes the lovely art museum, Pinacoteca...

...and Praça da Luz. It was raining the previous time I went there, which meant the park was mostly vacant and appeared fairly dodgy even at midday. On this sunny Friday, though, it was an entirely different place. People were everywhere doing park-like things. I saw several military police taking the horses for a walk, and some Streets & Sanitation laborers trying to outperform one another with homemade free-weights.

On my way back to Casa Club I was treated to a lovely sunset from the hills of Vila Madalena.

Back at my comfortable hostel, I chatted with one of the owners, Sávio, as I settled into a nice caipirinha. Dabbling in sugary-lime goodness, I braced myself for the inevitable Friday Night Hijinks.

Next stop, the Metrô.