Sao Paulo, May 2008

I returned to Sao Paulo to retrieve my suitcase from Vivianne’s sister, Alexa and to explore the city for a couple of days before setting off for home. We also had to pop into the studio so that I could finish my Peruvian Madonna but getting out onto the streets wasn’t going to be easy with the Gay Pride Parade taking place. By an amazing coincidence I was to be able to experience a real Brazilian street festival and one that “prides” itself in its unblemished safety record at that. This I believe is in something of a contrast to the Rio Carnival where you certainly can’t just wander in and out of the crowds making friends. There were apparently a quarter of a million people taking part but that didn’t stop me being called to from the crowd: “Hallo, you must be Dorothea’s little English friend from Tiradentes!” Nice Place.

We made it to the studio which is part of a charitable project which promotes art for social and therapeutic purposes. Alexa is a trained art therapist and I was absolutely fascinated to hear about her work. Somehow, involving people in practical projects that provide expression for the most deeply hidden anxieties seemed so much more supportive than just sitting them down in a chair and telling them to spill it. Some of the attendees are society ladies on their way to have their hair highlighted but one that I met was a cleaning lady whose only son had been gunned down in one of the poorer neighbourhoods. Most of the crime is drug related, with human trafficking coming a close second and the Police are notoriously corrupt.

Alexa and her friends had organised a masive protest the year before after the police had “cleansed” the down-town streets of homeless beggars, apparently at the behest of some of the top business men. I don’t know what surprised me more, the thought that people could be swept of the streets like refuse, never to be seen again, or that a group of arty young women would dare to make a public protest about it. I couldn’t help but be delighted with what I personally saw of Sao Paulo but was also grateful for the insight. I know I shall be going back to Brazil one day, there are so many friends there after all, but I don’t think it will ever again be as a tourist.

Categories: Latin America

1 Comment

  • Sandy says:

    After I settled back down after discovering I hadn’t won a free trip to Rio, I opened your blog. Very nice photos especially the naughty Grandma posing with the two colorful Brazilians!

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