Cruising South America (February 12-March 1, 2016)

South America here we come! Our 9.5 hour nonstop overnight flight placed us in Sao Paulo, Brazil before lunch where we are rallying with our cruise buddies, Walter & Cleone and Hettie & Ronnie. Everything went perfectly: on time take off , smooth flight, on time arrival. We cleared immigration and customs and took a shuttle to the airport Marriott where we’ll spend the night and rest up to board the cruise ship tomorrow. We have a beautiful room on the 9th floor with a view of the pool, complimentary snacks and drinks, and free breakfast. Woo hoo!

Sadly W&C did not have our luck. They got stuck in Dallas overnight due to mechanical problems which will delay their arrival by at least 12 hours. Walter had arranged a city tour starting at 3:00 this afternoon. So Dan and I, completely blocking out the misery of our companions, enjoyed our complimentary cheese and cracker lunch (washed down with Coke Zero), took a quick swim, and then showered and met our guide in the lobby for Walter’s four hour tour. Laura was our guide and Wilson our driver. Expecting four of us plus the two of them, we had a sizable van, so we spread out like royalty and enjoyed the afternoon.

Laura explained that São Paulo was founded by the Portuguese in the mid-1500s. They basically enslaved the locals to do their bidding. When they ran out of locals they imported Africans. Once slavery was abolished in the late 1800s the government started recruiting cheep labor from abroad. São Paulo is now home to the second largest populations of Japanese, Lebanese, and Spanish in the world. They, along with many other immigrant groups, have assimilated into a very integrated group that is open minded and accepting of all kinds of differences.

Although we admit to seeing very little of it, we found São Paulo, the largest city in the country, to be a sprawling metropolis of stark contrasts. We visited both the rich and poor sides of town and basically found it hard to tell where one began and the other ended. Sadly a relatively new, beautiful cathedral stands directly across the street from the spot where the city was founded. We were not allowed out of the van, however, due to the number of questionable people loitering around, sleeping on the steps of the cathedral, and looking for an easy mark. Theft is the main issue.

São Paulo is not tourist centered at all, so they have not made it easy to stop and take a closer look at beautiful statues or landmarks, so most of our pictures were taken though the window of the van. We did get out of the van to check out a fun bakery though. Laura treated us to a chocolate candy that tasted like the marriage of fudge and chocolate frosting; a snack that looked like corn puffs but were a healthy, baked vegetable; and a fruity soft drink that was very light and refreshing.

Laura explained the countless tall buildings that randomly shoot straight out of the ground all over this city of 20-ish million people. They are mostly apartment buildings, not skyscraper office buildings. It is safer by far to live in an apartment than a single family house, so this option has caught on like wild fire. It’s not uncommon to own one or two complete floors. The top-of-the-line units even have elevators that take your car to your floor to be garaged. Get out! What were single family homes in former times are now small office buildings or shops.

Graffiti is EVERYwhere! Some is very artistic and beautiful but most, by a long shot, has a sloppy,  vandalism flare. Sad. On the poor side of town there were loads of homeless napping and loitering. They had completely taken over some dilapidated, tired buildings that looked like they were fresh out of a WWII or sci-fi movie. We passed a fortune teller set up on the sidewalk. Again, I was not allowed out of the van, so I have no clue what my future holds. We got a great view of the city from the 9th floor of a museum. From there we looked down and saw coffee beans drying on the rooftop of a neighboring building. Below that we could see a small inner-city  coffee farm. What are those odds? There are some spectacular, old buildings, architecturally speaking, but they seem lost in the juxtaposition of the street people, graffiti, and trash. We saw a few mattresses and even a sofa on the sidewalk outside a building taken over by street people. Sad considering that Brazil, rich in so many resources, is the fifth largest country in the world and boasts the sixth largest economy.

On the up-side, the ratio of women to men is three to one. Good if you’re a guy. Also there are some beautiful parks, lakes, and green spaces.

We had an enjoyable afternoon and came back to the hotel at 7:00 just in time for happy hour. There were light snacks, beer, wine, and small desserts. We sat down and successfully ate enough snacks and drank enough wine to make a meal. Cha Ching!

Hopefully our buds make it in tonight. H&R are due before midnight, if all goes well, and W&C will just do the best they can. We’ll see if they are in the lobby at our appointed time tomorrow morning.


3 thoughts on “Cruising South America (February 12-March 1, 2016)

  1. As usual…you do NOT disappoint Schele. Yup! Sorry about the fortune teller…I agree with Murphy…she would say you are blessed. Hope every else gets in safely tonight and you fun cruise goes well!


  2. Yes, your first blog!! I love your pictures, they are great, and I love that you went on the city tour without them ☺. I also looked at all your pictures for Tom’s party, they were so fun.

    Love you!!!

    Matt Mongeon | Senior Business Analyst
    PMP, ITIL Foundation, RCV, OSA, SOA
    Technology Team – Cox California
    5159 Federal Blvd., San Diego, CA 92105
    • 619.266.5675 (ex. 55675) |( 619.822.4661 | •


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