My last weekend in Brazil is now over, and I am headed into my last week in Brazil. On Saturday I met up with cousins of a good family friend (from the States) who lives here in Sao Paulo which produced a great afternoon with wonderful views of the city while driving as well as a wonderful experience spending time with Brazilians and getting a sense of their life here. We also visited Ipiranga Park, Sao Paulo’s independence park of sorts. It was so so beautiful, very European looking (see photos) and reminded me of La Plaza de España in Spain. Spanish was easier for them than using English, so I got a good 5 straight hours of Spanish practice, which was truly fabulous. I don’t feel that I have lost much if any of my Spanish in the 4 years since leaving Spain (it seems longer ago than that though) – being able to communicate with essentially strangers for an entire afternoon in Spanish gave me such a feeling of accomplishment.
On Sunday morning I ventured out while everyone else was still sleeping to find some crafts and gives are a few markets up on Paulista Avenue (ironically that is the center of business and finance here in Sao Paulo, and South American in generally really). There was a great antiques market and a crafts fair across the street that I loved. Later as a group we went for an outing around the city to visit some sites and museums. We first went to the Mercado Municipal de Sao Paulo, a large food market with cheeses and wines and fresh fruit and jams. Again, reminded me of European markets (but didn’t reek of fish as they most often do). It was in a large train station like building that was beautiful, and half of the building had a second level with restaurants, where we ate a fabulous lunch with Leda and Fernanda. I hadn’t had fish that good in a long long time. After wandering around the market a bit, we trekked over to a beautiful (actual) train station, Estacao da Luz (Light Station) after which we went to the Pinacoteca Museum right next to it. This museum had lots of different types of art including lots of sculptures and paintings, but the building was what was incredible. It had been redone of course, but inside there was a large open space in the middle that had various brick walls within it, looking to be from an original structure. After spending some time there we sat in the coffee shop for a good hour just relaxing and talking, some quality time with Ana Luiza, Leda, and Fernanda, all three of our favorite people from CIEE, the study abroad organization that runs our program here. This took up a good 6 hours so by the end of the day we were all ready for our hotel beds, which we very casually refer to as our H3 beds on a daily basis (the hotel’s name is H3, and we love the beds so much that we have named them, “I can’t wait for my H3 bed!!”).
It was a great final weekend in Sao Paulo. This week we are finishing up our projects and will be leaving this coming Saturday evening, Sachin and Jamie will be staying here for the year to study, while the rest of the group will be heading back to the States. I will be departing for Buenos Aires on Saturday and could not be more excited!