According to Wikipedia, “… Sao Paulo is the 11th most populace city on the earth, and largest Portuguese-speaking city in the world …  The city, which is also colloquially known as Sampa or Terra da Garoa (Land of Drizzle), is known for its unreliable weather, the size of its helicopter fleet, its architecture, gastronomy, severe traffic congestion and skyscrapers.”

I don’t know anything about its helicopter fleet, architecture or gastronomy, but I see it from my 9th floor balcony.  A view of a soccer field below, and beyond that, skyscrapers.  At first I disliked the sport field, but then I realized, if not for it I would see nothing but tall buildings which seem to go into the horizon.

And as you will notice in the image below, I have what appears to be fencing on the balcony.  It is made of string instead of wire, which I assume it is to keep birds out.My balcony is long and narrow. The rectangular hole in the wall is a BBQ grill.  One thing certain about this country, the Brazilians take their meat very seriously.  Everyone cooks meat, therefore all houses and apartments need a place to cook it.

And they do cook meat very well.  And beans.  These Brazilians know how to cook meat and beans.  Every restaurant serves meat and beans.  The little place I go for lunch has meat on a grill, and beans, rice and a few vegetables.  I cannot imagine this country being friendly to vegetarians, but I know personally several who do find a lot to eat.

Many of the restaurants have a selection of food that you load up on, then place your plate on a scale and pay per kilogram.  I have a very good lunch with a bottle of water for about 10-12 dollars.  With a meal like that, I have a small dinner.  Usually a sandwich or toast.

Now, the Brazilians are not people who enjoy spicy food.  As a matter of fact, you will not find black pepper on tables at a restaurant, because it is too spicy.  When I go to the little restaurant for lunch (Santina de Maria), I will ask for some of their spicy sausage.  It is not spicy at all, but it does have a very unique flavor.  The first time I tasted it, I wondered whether it was good meat or not.  I took a chance and ate it anyway and did not wake up dead the next morning.  Every time I ate it since then, it tasted the same.  So I guess it’s just the spices they use and not bad meat.

The best way to describe the traffic here is cordial.  If someone wants to cut you off, they use their blinker and wait for you to give them room.  Not what I am used to in Turkey.  Everyone drives the speed limit, because there are cameras everywhere watching you, which will send you a ticket in the mail for speeding or running a red light.  As I type this, the lady who owns the “Damnit Cat” that I took care of for 6 weeks, just took me to a restaurant for lunch.  She told me she gets so many tickets each month, that she no longer even tries to drive politely.  She said, her approx 300 Reais a month ($100) is just the price of driving in Sao Paulo.

She also told me that because of the crime in the city, when you drive late a night you ignore the traffic signs.  No stopping at a “Pare” (stop) sign due to the possibility of being car jacked.  Yes, you may be pulled over by the Polícia, but the fine is part of being safe.

The People.  I was told the Brazilians are the happiest people in the world.  With the crime I would question that, but working with these good people, I can see their happiness deep inside.  There is Jefferson Tisano who works in the Maintenance of the Consulate who does everything he can to hold his joy inside while he works.  One of these day, I will take him out for a beer after work to see what’s inside that glorious cerebral matter of his.  There is a small diminutive electrician named Fransisco who is always smiling.  Always.  When I say, Fransisco, why do you smile so much?  He says, I dunno!  Then there is Felipe who is cautious with me.  He is in charge of the local guard force and tries to maintain a serious nature when he is around me.  But I have seen him smile and laugh when I was not nearby.

Now, there is something we must talk about.  After coming from a Muslim country with its call to prayer 5 times a day, starting at about 4-5 am, I was looking forward to being in a Christian nation with churches and cathedrals abound.  But alas, no.  No, as in no churches and cathedrals abound.  I thought that Brazil would be like Ethiopia or Russia with its Orthodox churches everywhere like the mosques in Turkey.  Sometime, I will have to search one out, wherever they are.  But I have yet to hear any bells at all.  *sigh*

Okay. Enough for this post.  Kick butt.  D.