We arrived into sexy Rio de Janeiro on an overnight bus from Ouro Preto. Unfortunately, our first stop wasn’t Christ, Sugar Loaf or the beach but Copacabana hospital where Lindsay was admitted with a temperature of 39oC. Having visited Peru, Bolivia and Brazilian national parks, the doctors suspected a tropical disease. But after eight hours of blood tests, x-rays, urine tests and yarns to the insurance people, we were discharged with super strong antibiotics to treat a bacterial infection. #notdengue #notmalaria #win.
Four days later, we returned to our favourite Brazilian GP to treat me. Although my temperature of 38oC did not warrant a trip to the hospital, I too was diagnosed with a different bacterial infection with a different type of antibiotics.
Being hardcore (or stupid), we pushed through Rio’s most important sights. If Buenos Aires is like Melbourne, then Rio is like Sydney. With its sandy beaches, lush greenery and sunny weather, it’s beautiful in photos and beautiful from a distance. However, on the ground, the sidewalks are crumbling. The old buildings in the city are not well preserved and cariocas (residents of Rio) don’t particularly mix well with others.
Dare I say it; I think Sydney has better beaches. But maybe I was just delusional from my raging fever.
Somehow, we survived an alcohol-free stay in Rio and we headed to São Paulo, our last stop in Brazil. With a population of 20 million (that’s the WHOLE of Australia), Sampa, as it is often called, is one mad, hectic, concrete city unlike any other.
For a paulistano (resident of São Paulo), spending two hours getting to and from school or work is BAU. To ease traffic, there is a rotating transit policy where cars with license plate number ending with certain numbers cannot be on certain roads on certain days at certain times.
With a population of this size, it’s each man and woman for him or herself, there is no train etiquette especially during peak hours. Push in or miss your train. Push out or miss your stop. Like Melbourne, this is a city without an airport train. A taxi from the international airport into town takes anywhere from 45 minutes to three hours.
While São Paulo may be an urban nightmare, we enjoyed our time there. Spending only two days in December (maybe everyone was already on holidays?), we found the traffic to be ok. Our trip to the airport took 50 minutes. We also stayed in a leafy suburb of Villa Madalena which is full of mid-rise apartments, shops, restaurants and bars which spill onto the streets.
There is also great diversity in Sampa thanks to waves of Italian, German, Lebanese, Chinese, Japanese and Korean migration. Having travelled South America for three months, I was thrilled to find Asian grocery shops, bubble cups, sushi and ramen! Any city with quality ramen is a good city in my blog.