I am just going to take the taxis. Walking is just not pleasant. Look closely at the first picture. Notice the small sign in the first picture. It points to the sidewalk for pedestrians. Of course, I could take a different route and maybe I will find a good one, but for now …
Besides, I like to talk to the taxi drivers. I always ask to sit in the front seat and they always let me. I learn a few things about the area and about what people are talking about.
I made the driver happy tonight when I told him that I decided not to use Uber. Not surprisingly, he did not like Uber, said it was unfair to a guy trying to make a fair living. He complained that he had been searching for a fare for three hours.
Sometimes the stories are inspiring. I talked to a guy yesterday who told me that he starting driving taxis thirty years ago after he suffered injuries on his construction job. He put his two kids through school with the money he earned and now they have good jobs that do not require such punishing physical work. His son is an engineer and his daughter a teacher. You can count this man’s life a success.
I recognized one driver’s Northeast accent and when he talked about growing up in the country, we found a shared an interest in “Globo Rural.” He said that he had long dreamed of returning to his native land, but his family had grown up in São Paulo and now that was their native land. He would never go back.
I find it surprising that the drivers do not immediately guess where I am from. Of course, they know that I am some kind of outsider. We Americans think that others think about us more than they really do. Taxi drivers are aware of the USA. How could they not be? But it is not top of their mind. They have plenty of other problems, hopes and dreams. I have not asked any of them what they think of the USA and none have volunteered any general attitudes, although many have a friend or relative who has been to the USA. Some of their questions, however, illustrate their impression. One driver asked me if we had homeless in the USA. Another asked if we had traffic that requires a rodizio (where different license numbers cannot enter town during rush hour on different days). I talked to one guy about relative prices. Food is generally cheaper in Brazil than in the USA, but not in relation to salaries, and electronics are more expensive.
The world is rapidly changing and so is the relationship between the USA and Brazil. I am talking about a deeper level here, not one based on current politics. São Paulo is bigger than New York. I don’t think many people in the USA or in Brazil realize that. And China is Brazil’s biggest trading partner.
Below are some pictures from around São Paulo. They are self-explanatory, except maybe the last one. That is a bar in the Fundação FHC. It used to be an exclusive club and the bar is left over from those times.