I already had plans to visit São Paulo to catch up with my mate, Bottles, who I used to work with at Family Bar in Auckland and hadn’t seen for over a year since she moved to Wellington then headed back to Brazil. But one day at work, must have been quite early on in the night because it was still quiet enough to have a conversation with those on K’Rd capable of such a thing, I met an American guy called Barry. We talked a bit about South America because he’d been there and I was going there and he said he was heading back to São Paulo to be with his fella and when I got there I should give him a shout so we swapped Facebooks. Then he told me about one of the biggest gay parades in the world taking place in São Paulo on the 6th June… Fuck yes please! I worked it out and could easily be there for it. So I was. Bottles was working that morning and her evil boss wouldn’t let anyone have the day off. Having said that, most of her workforce were gay, if she let them all off every time the queers had a party she wouldn’t have a business.
So me, Barry and his boyfriend, Pedro hung out for the day and the weather was perfect. Proof that if there really is a god, he does love us queers after all. It was a wicked day right from when I got on the Metro and at the next stop the train was filled with shouting, singing and whooping homos, so much better than Sydney where they pen you in behind a railing and there’s no room to move. 3 million people showed up this year and there was still room to dance along the road. Three. Million. There were more people in São Paulo for the gay parade than there is in Auckland.
Drinking in the streets is legal in Brazil an all so you don’t have to worry about hiding your alcohol from the cops. Run out of beer? No worries, it won’t be long before you find someone else with a polystyrene esky full of beery goodness. We walked along for a while, watched a few floats go past then found one we liked (that’d be the one with the campest music, then) and followed it. The choice was made when one rolled past blasting Bad Romance from the speakers. Nope, there’s no escape from the Gaga. Everyone seems to love her over here an all, even when she wasn’t being pumped from every sound system there was usually someone starting a sing-a-long. Bad Romance is now officially my São Paulo song. We must have spent a good 4 or 5 hours, walking and dancing though the streets of one of the biggest cities in the world surrounded by millions of people who know how to party. Today my legs ache from the dancing and my arms ache from the waving but that was easily the best pride march I’ve ever seen.
As for the rest of my time here in São Paulo, I did one tourist thing. The rest of my time was spent hanging out with Bottles, partying and developing photos. Yep, for the first time in my life I went to university. One of the things Bottles does at uni is photography, she showed me how to do a test to determine the correct exposure time then develop them in some checmicals that’d rot your clothes if you got it on them. Hardcore. It was fun, it almost made me consider some sort of study at some point… I said almost.
And the partying in São Paulo is fabulous, the first night I met her at work and we went on a buteco (basically a simple place to get cheap beer and snacks like them doughy egg shaped things I’d gotten addicted to which are apparently called coxinhas. Gonna end this bracket text now, its gotten a bit out of hand methinks. Digression; one of my fortés, I get too easily distracted by things an’ all and… ooh… shiny…) crawl with two of her work mates, Renata and Sasha whose real name is Evaldo but they think he’d look good in drag so they call him Sasha. I have no idea where we went. I just followed my Brazilian mates around and tried not to look too English.
It was awesome to see Bottles again and hang out. We got wasted, went shopping, got wasted some more, got wasted whilst shopping and even found time to head up to the 41st floor of Terraço Italia (between 3 and 4pm if you ever felt like checking it out) to have a look at the city. It’s huge. Like, really fucking massive. It’s on another scale, especially compared to Auckland. All I know is a few points along the Metro lines and I wouldn’t have a clue how to navigate the centre.
I was looked after by Bottles’ mum and step dad too, they drove me round to look at some sights, cooked a typical Brazilian dish for me called feijoada (more culinary amazingness; black beans and pork with rice) and printed off maps of the city, one of which saved my arse when a taxi driver dropped my off fuck knows where. Feijoada, by the way, apparently used to be a slave dish. Back in the day it was made with pigs’ ears and trotters, the parts of the animal the rich landowners didn’t want. The left overs were given to the slaves who cooked them up with black beans they already grew. Despite its dubious history it’s wicked, SO filling, its a really heavy meal but if you handed it to me with feet floating around in it I’d politely thank you, leave the table and find a nice corner to vomit in.
So I’m pretty much destined to get fatter here, a lot of pousadas (cheap accommodation, like where I stayed in Paraguay. The further up north you get in Brazil the less backpacker hostels there seem to be) don’t have kitchens you can use and the backpacker hostels further south have their own bars and don’t allow you to bring your own alcohol which means I’ve been forced to renounce 2 minute noodles and cask wine in favour of a staple diet of coxinhas and caipirinhas. Not such a hard life then ay.
São Paulo, Brazil
Stayed at: 3 Dogs Hostel