The five of us joined the droves of Paulistas en route to Estádio do Morumbi. The 20-minute walk down Avenida Jorge João Saad was a festival of sustenance and good cheer. Although we had enjoyed lunch in the food court of the nearby Butantã mall, the excitement and refreshments for sale on the roadside put snacks in the forefront of my mind. A.C. dissuaded me from buying provisions out of a stranger's trunk. The crowd moved south in an orderly fashion, although many pedestrians took to the street. The pavement was slanted, but I deemed walking with motor traffic exponentially dangerous. Thus, I stayed within the boundaries of the curb.
The path to the stadium was lined with educational establishments. The presence and variety of schools were characteristic of sophisticated Morumbi. I was taken by the neighborhood on our initial drive past several beautiful residences. Our journey to the game had afforded me the opportunity to explore the district on foot while dreaming up a hypothetical future in the metropolis.
We would live in Morumbi. Our child-to-be would attend Colégio Miguel de Cervantes, a Spanish international school. From what we could tell, the grounds were massive and green. Baby C. would be given his obligatory dose of Spanish and opportunities to exercise with his peers. Aerobics of the body and mind would put the child to bed by 18:46. We would rise at 6:00; I am a morning person in my dreams. The three of us would gather with A.L. and M.L. on Sundays in the countryside.
The thought of having to part with our friends, especially after waiting years to reunite, weighed on me, and I was in denial about our impending separation. But the memories of our moments together could not be taken away. The next instant, the game was upon us: São Paulo versus Vasco. I dressed in red, the color of the home team. The red sea, in which we swam was united. It cheered, chanted, and swore as one. A.C. and I assimilated, picking up some Portuguese in the process. The passion of our fellow Paulistas was infectious, inviting, and beckoned us to stay.M.J.C.
30 November 2016
28 November 2016
Theatro Municipal comes into view as we cross the Viaduto do Chá on foot. M.L. says the building is haunted, but A.C. and I do not comprehend her claim right away. We do not know the Portuguese word for “haunted” and M.L.’s pronunciation of the word ghost sound more like “go-shhhhhhh.” Since the goal of conversing in another language is to be understood, M.L. continues with her English, and we enter into a game resembling charades. As we approach the viaduct’s center, M.L. raises her arms to her sides and says “woooooooo.” A.C. and I, realizing the essence of her story, survey the upstairs windows of the structure as we approach. The three of us ascend the steps in search of tickets for tonight’s show. I begin to lay out my evening attire in my head, but cease when I find myself unaccompanied in my plan to see Wagner's Lohengrin.
23 November 2016
The grounds of Museu Paulista, situated in the center of Parque da Independência, are manicured and express a sentiment of grandness. The fence surrounding the museum barred us from ascending the steps; the institution had closed its doors for renovations. In Brazil, it is difficult to determine construction end dates with accuracy. A.L., versed in matters of unfinished undertakings in São Paulo's proximity, educated us on this common practice. Although the signage conveyed a message that the site would reopen in the future, we were filled with doubt. The yellow-tinted structure longed to be restored to working order. In the intervening period, we amused ourselves by inventing a plan to take up residence in the building. We plotted while strolling along the facade's north side, and divided our house into thirds among the four of us. A.L. and M.L., residing permanently in the metropolis, claimed the west wing and the main block. A.C. and I reserved the east wing for our periodic excursions to Brazil.
19 November 2016
São Paulo overflows with pizzarias. The name of our adopted restaurant is Charles (Av. José Maria Whitaker, 1785 - Planalto Paulista), in honor of Chaplin. I am uncertain if any parallels can be drawn in the comparison of Charlie with this Italian dish. The great presence of Italians in Brazil may account for the abundance of pizzarias in the country's most populous city. Charles serves every pizza imaginable, include that of the sweet variety. The waiters circulate the dining room carrying round, silver trays. Goiabada and queijo-de-minas are the most Brazilian of toppings. Referred to as “Romeo and Juliet” when paired together, the combination is enchanting like the city at night.
15 November 2016
We took a break from the crowds on Paulista Avenue by detouring to Pátio Paulista for brigadeiro. Brigaderia, an establishment devoted to purveying this Brazilian confection, is tucked away on the basement level of the mall. A.C. and I notified the shop associate of our selections. We chose a few different types of chocolate in the mold of a truffle and a dish of lemon cake served with warm brigadeiro in liquid form. We were surprised to find that the recipe for brigadeiro is simple:
- Combine 3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa, 1 (or 2, if desired) tablespoons of butter, and 14 ounces of sweetened condensed milk in a medium saucepan.
- Set on medium heat and stir until thickened (approximately 5-8 minutes).
- Remove from heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract, if desired. Let cool to room temperature.
- Form into small balls with butter-coated hands.
- To add sophistication, roll on toppings such as chocolate sprinkles or shaved almonds, and place in a small truffle wrapper. Brigadeiro may be chilled until ready to serve.
14 November 2016
We enjoy the view of Praça da Sé from the top of the steps of Catedral da Sé. The park, formerly named Largo da Sé, is the center of São Paulo. The palm trees lining the promenade provide shade from the sun. In the borough of Sé, history collides with the urban characteristics of the metropolis. Pátio do Colégio, the site of the city's founding, is a six-minute walk to the north. Walking to the extensive Mercado Municipal would require a mere fifteen minutes more. The square is notable, not only for its existence during the colonial period, but also for its role in Brazil's recent history. Several demonstrations of the Diretas Já movement, which called for direct presidential elections, occurred here in 1984. Consequently, a new Federal Constitution was adopted in 1988. The following year, the first direct presidential election since 1960 was realized.
10 November 2016
A.L. left the three of us standing at the Monumento à Independência do Brasil while he retrieved the car. The spring weather in São Paulo varies between an oven and an ice box. On the day of our visit to the Parque da Independência, the heat veered into cooking an egg on the sidewalk territory. M.L., A.C., and I took a turn around the monument. As A.C. and I rounded the western side, a Paulista began speaking to us in Portuguese. M.L., the only Brazilian in our current party of three was somewhere in the vicinity but out of earshot. We answered the friendly stranger with smiles. M.L. entered the scene as a translator. The conversation addressed the topic of the heat. I found the stranger’s assumption that A.C. and I were Brazilian to be fascinating. The country is diverse and we fit right in.
04 November 2016
A.C. and I had relied on Skype and the old-fashioned post to communicate with our Brazilian friends for six years. When opportunity presented itself, we flew to São Paulo specifically to reunite. Our flight landed at Guarulhos International at an indecent morning hour. The pedestrian runway led us from the terminal, past the shops, and to the pick up point outside. The airport and the night air were still. The plethora of unoccupied seats inside extended an invitation, which we kindly accepted. I do not recall how many minutes it took for A.L. and M. to find us in the newly installed wing of GRU. But I do remember the combination of excitement and serenity I felt at our embrace. They were the same, and so were we.