While at a rest stop that had internet on our way from Florianopolis Brazil to the biggest city in South America, Sao Paulo Brazil, my mom received an email from the person we were renting an apartment from in Sao Paulo. We were told that there was a huge protest going on at one of the important avenues, Paulista. It happened to be the avenue that we needed to drive through to get to our apartment.
We had already been in the car for about 7 hours (in the backseat and not able to move because of all our stuff) and had to wait in traffic and drive on another route which took another hour when we got into the city due to the road being blocked.
I hear or read things on social media or the news about world events just like the protests occurring in several cities all over Brazil but they never felt like they were really happening. They weren’t directly affecting me. But this time, it felt real. I am in the country, city, and in walking distance to the protests.
It was Monday when we arrived in Sao Paulo, just when the protests were starting to pick up. On Tuesday, we went to a local restaurant. While walking on the street towards the restaurant, I saw several people of all ages walking towards the direction of the protest and holding signs with words in Portuguese. I only recognized the word não or no in English. And the numbers 3.20, signifying the increase of the public transportation fare.
When we arrived at the restaurant, the news was playing on the TV and every eye in the restaurant was watching. People who were walking past the restaurant stopped to watch through the windows. The footage that the news choose to replay over and over again was some people trying to break into Prefeitura do Municipio de Sao Paulo or in English, the Sao Paulo City Hall.
The next day, we went on a tour of downtown Sao Paulo. People seemed to be living life normally. The only differences were things like this bank. (these are the top windows, below by the door is completely covered in black plastic due to being completely destroyed)
While at a bakery, our guide told us there was a store that people broke into and were stealing TVs from. Then we realized it was the store right in front of the bakery! The woman working at the bakery told us the bakery wasn’t robbed due to tight security. A few other stores on the same street were closed due to robberies the night before.
After enjoying a pão com chocolate e brigadeiro, bread with chocolate and brigadeiro, we ran into a TV crew doing an interview in front of the store that was robbed. It was closed as seen in the background.
We saw lots of graffiti. Here the price 3.20 is crossed out.
This police booth was completely wrecked. There was glass on the ground all around it.
In my opinion, this was the most interesting part of our walking downtown Sao Paulo tour. The same footage we saw on TV the night before at the local restaurant became real.This is Prefeitura do Municipio de Sao Paulo or in English, the Sao Paulo City Hall. Some parts of the ground were burnt and there were several police standing. Workers were cleaning the graffiti and repairing the door.
Journalists were there too. One had a tag clipped on his pants that said CNN with his picture and name.
There were so many people crowding around the building. Even locals were taking pictures. Someone by me probably heard me talking and said in his best American English accent, “Welcome to Brazil”.
Close by the Sao Paulo City Hall is Theatro Municipal. It’s a really beautiful building architecturally. Though when we were there, just like the city hall building, there was a bunch of graffiti.
So far our visit in Sao Paulo has been enjoyable. The protests in Sao Paulo for the most part are peaceful and the only way we’ve been affected by it is traffic. Thousands and thousands of people gather at the important streets so for the times that we had to take a car, we had to take different and normally longer routes.
The only day there was not a protest during our trip to Sao Paulo was on the day Brazil played Mexico in the Confederations Cup. I guess people were busy watching soccer. However days later when Brazil played Italy, despite the game, people were again protesting in the streets.
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