Brazil, Travels

São Paulo State of Mind

It is hard to write about something you don’t understand – hard to mold the words into a clearcut, finite meaning about something that seems indescribable and infinite.

Only rarely have I experienced the same feeling of simultaneous happiness and emptiness as when I saw the towering buildings of São Paulo disappearing behind the horizontal line for the first time. The other times I have experienced the same feeling were on an edge of seemingly endless wastelands or seeing the waves of Atlantic ocean in Ireland, Scotland and South Africa: on these occasions, time has stopped in my memories for a moment, and the scenery has been imprinted in my mind with bright, specific colours.

But with São Paulo, the images in my mind get mixed up and time jumps back and forth in quick jolts.

The waves do not beat the rhythm for my memories, the whizzing wind of the British Isles is replaced with the constant hum of the traffic.

My memories are born from complete silence in the airplane, from where I see São Paulo for the first time. Then descending, into the taxi and through the darkness of the night I am taken to the hotel. After this, the memories of the following days swirl over the tall buildings surrounding Ibirapuera Park as if they were a helicopter with an engine failure. The memories calm down for a moment in a corner bar which edges are softened by the finally setting evening sun, and on the streets of Pinheiros, lined by shadowy and leafy trees and skillful street art. Then, the memories rocket to the skies in an elevator, stop for a moment to take in the view, until they swash down again into the metro tunnels.

São Paulo is hard to understand: the images it created do not form a coherent whole, the city is too big to understand. The biggest metropole of the Southern Hemisphere is the biggest mystery of my city adventures so far.

It has stuck into my mind as a utopia, into which abyss I would like to disappear one more time.

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