After just over two weeks in Southend staying with friends we set off again on our travels, Brazil bound.
The luggage allowance on flights to Brazil is massive, four 32 kg cases as hold luggage, cabin baggage and a personal bag. Having not been to Brasil for 5 years, and visiting at Christmas a good 40% of our luggage was Christmas presents which we managed to fit into three almost 30 kg cases.
The flight was scheduled to take off at 8.10 pm but was a little late, possibly due to the fog and we arrived at about 6 am in Guarulhas Airport in Sao Paulo. The flight was something over 11 hours and was uneventful. In walking around the cabin in the wee small hours it looked as if the plane was inhabited by cliché ghosts, most passengers having covered themselves completely in their nearly white blankets, including my beloved wife…
From the airport we got a cab to our friends Fatima and Harmen who have an apartment in the Jardim district of Sao Paulo. Today, Wednesday, was Harmen’s birthday so our first evening here was a typically Brazilian family dinner. Lots of people having lots of loud, overlapping conversations over fantastic food. My Portuguese is very basic and although on a one to one basis I can get by I have a long way to go before I am going to be able to keep up! But I am looking forward to my three month immersion course.
Other than socialising we don’t plan to do much else in the way of sight seeing and in any case pictures of Sao Paulo from our time here may be scarce as ‘personal security’ is an issue. Most of the apartment blocks are ‘gated’ with 24 hour security and the advise is to not go out wearing jewellery or watches or flashing cameras about, especially if you look like a foreigner! Having said that, walking around the streets, it doesn’t feel particularly risky during the day, haven’t been out at night yet.
The other thing I have immediately noticed is the cost of living here is unexpectedly high, many, if not most, everyday items of shopping are considerably more expensive than in the UK. Restaurants too are not cheap; although here they have restaurants with the collective title of ‘Kilo’. They are buffet style eateries where you pay for your meal by weight which is a really good idea; the food is generally really good, but the thought of facing the scales keeps you in check!