Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sampa III: things that go hiss in the night

So...my last full day to explore Sampa was a Monday. I headed to Universidade Federal de São Paulo and Instituto Butantã in the morning. I wanted to peruse the campus of the former because, as I have been considering a move to Sampa, I would enroll in Portuguese classes there if...

I wanted to visit the adjacent Butantan Institute sheerly to satiate my curiosity--it is "internationally renowned for its research on venomous animals."

I had a bit of a nightmare, though, getting from point A to point B...and to points C, D, and E, in the course of that day. (Normally, that is no trouble for me--even in cities I've never set foot--because I have a weird, natural, GPS-like mind and I tend to find my way around unfamiliar areas with ridiculous and envious ease.) I arrived at the university campus without hassle, sorted out what I needed to sort, and happily re-directed myself toward the poisonous things.

Because the sites are adjacent, I walked through the enormous USP campus expecting to land near the institute. I didn't factor in unscalable fencing. I didn't factor in footwear. I was wearing my Havaianas (flip flops, duh). They are oh-so-comfortable, but I don't choose them on power-walking missions.

I walked and walked along the fence that separated me from my lethal friends, foot soreness be damned.

Eventually I arrived at a guarded gate. A curious security guard advised me to take the campus shuttle back to the main entrance of USP, walk a few blocks here, then a few there, and I would find the entrance to Butantan. Awww man! Ok.

Eventually, I got there. It seemed really empty as I climbed the hill through the lush forest that surrounded the place. No matter, I figured. It's just (a little past) lunch time. Maybe everyone's still eating.

The first building I found in the larger-than-expected facility was very neat.



It fit with the stories I have heard of anti-venom breakthroughs in the early 20th century. In front of this building, there was an open-air exhibit of some of the research subjects--like rattlesnakes (cascavel, in Portuguese).



I learned from this sign that the word for "poisonous" is peçonhenta. Good to know.



I saw the creature, or the tail, at least. That's worth something.
I saw other deadly creatures. Neat.
Then I headed to the building to find the doors locked.
Perhaps there's another entrance?
Or, perhaps...



...they are CLOSED on Mondays.
PQP! (That's bad language.)

I enjoyed a little stroll though the gardens, where at least I felt like I was in a jungle.



So, it's after 2pm, and I didn't want to waste my last day. The only thing I had really hoped to see, and hadn't managed yet, was the orelhão in Itú--a town 100km outside Sampa. I hadn't brought the essentials (map, requisite bus station, iPod, etc.) with me, since I expected to save it for my next visit. At the same time (punny), it was too late to go back to the hostel to gather them. Actually, it was kinda too late to even consider a trip to another town, but
to my ears that just sounded like the makings of a perfect adventure story. "Ah, what the hell?" Right?

Next up: playing with giants...

LG