Saturday, January 26, 2008

Exploring Sao Paulo-- downtown and the Immigrant Memorial

Matt's email acquaintance, Andre, came up from south of Sao Paulo to take us around the city. We went by subway downtown through the main train station at the Praca do Luz, to the Pinacoteca, where we saw some wonderful Brazilian art from the early 1800s through contemporary. Then we took the commuter train and ended up at a churrascaria where we had an amazing lunch-- much better than even the best Brazilian steak house I've eaten at in the US-- and back to the hotel. The next day we went out on our own by subway to the Immigrant Memorial, where we got an excellent orientation to the diversity of immigrants to Brazil from the 1800s through the 1970s, when the Immigrant Hostel closed its doors. The thatched cottage is a replica of the kind of accomodations most immigrants would have had when they went to work on the coffee plantations in Sao Paulo state-- there were also coffee plants and bougainvillea (a plant from my early years in southern Africa-- although in Brazil they're trees, not just vines!).

The funky store with the gorgeous mural is just one of a huge amount of outdoor art in Sao Paulo. Much of the city is covered in murals, which may be commissioned or may not-- but in general, it's far more extensive and sophisticated than even very good graffitti in other cities. This building is just one example.

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