Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Sao Paolo—Gateway to the West

When the Portuguese colonizers decided to explore the interior, it wasimage from Sao Paolo that the expeditions began.

That history is reflected today in many ways, the coat of arms of the city has a hand extending to the West. A prominent statue has explorers in a boat facing that direction, and its centrality as the commercial heart of Brazil is undoubted.

Apparently, 25% of all of Brazil’s wealth is generated in the city and surrounding state of Sao Paolo (both have the same name.)

Named for St. Paul the Apostle because the first colonist arrived on Jan. 25th, which apparently is the day that Paul became a Christian, the city boasts nearly 20 million people in its greater metropolis area.

Everyone says that traffic is incredible, but honestly, after 1 day only admittedly, I haven’t seen it.

Sao Paolo 2011...City Tour (1)What I have seen is the proverbial melting pot of Brazil with whites, blacks, mulatto (at they are known), natives, Japanese and more all living together.

The flag of the city has red, white, and black to represent the various ethnic groups.

What this city does seem to have is energy and a commercial focus and that’s something that Sao Paolistas (?) seem to have a great deal of pride about. There’s a sense of superiority here vis a vis the other parts of the country and that also seems to be a part of the legacy of the country.

In 1822, when Brazil became an Empire, one of the discussion points was how much autonomy Sao Paolo (along with Minas Gerais-another powerhouse state) would have so that they stayed part of Brazil.

I’ve been reading a book called The New Brazil which describes the evolution of the country from hyperinflation madness (40% per month) in the 80s to burgeoning economic superpower.

90% of the cars in Brazil are “flex” and run on sugar-cane ethanol, making the country energy independent, for all intents and purposes.

Thanks to my friend, Hallely Azulay, I was able to procure the services of a first-rate guy (let me know if you need him), who gave me context, showed me how great coffee can taste (it’s good!), and provided some insight into the mind of the Brasilieno.

Challenges abound. There’s obviously a significant divide between the rich and poor and it sounds like access to education (as well as corruption) really haunt the country like a weight around its neck.

This post doesn’t do all that I saw any justice, that’s for sure, and there’s more to come, but I wanted to get my thoughts down for now (it’s late) before the next day of activity hit.

blog comments powered by Disqus
View Comments