Sunday, November 2, 2008

Getting into town

So I went to Brazil with a healthy sense of apprehension. Everyone says it's a pretty dangerous place. One Brazilian advised my co-worker when she same to São Paulo to always leave her laptop in the office, and if she walked around only go with a group of 15 people.

So when I got off the plane, I was completely disoriented. I had to stand in line for like an hour and a half at customs, baggage claim, and finally at the exit. While in line, I stood out like a sore thumb. But not because I was a foreigner, but because of my age and because I was a woman. I guess I'm not the typical business traveler to Brazil. My Sunday night red eye was filled with middle aged bussiness men (I saw one savily dressed woman) and there were definitely no young backpackers or hippies. I guess this bodes well for Brazil's economoy? And yeah, there werew certainly no other young online-advertising-coordinators arriving in SP on this Monday morning. It really makes me stop and say, wow, what a crazy opportunity this is!

Anyway, I was completely relieved that someone was waiting for me at the airport. I don't think after that flight and with my Portugues I would've been able to find my way into the city very well, without maybe getting ripped off. My driver was a nice guy, 30 years old, who spoke great English -- having only learned it here in Brazil (which I'm always really impressed with.) I told him I was learning a bit of Portuguese and we spoke a little bit.

It took about 45 minutes with the traffic to get into the city. From the outskirts you can see the skyline of SP. It's very impressive. I've never seen an stretch of skyscrapers that wrap around almost like a panorama. São Paulo is a city with 12 million people in the city, and 20 million in the metro area. This is bigger than the American metropolises in NY or LA. And it's fascinating! SP feels like a combo of those two -- it's got the verticality of New York and the horizontal breadth of LA. So far, I love it.

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