Back from Brasil
I finally made it back to Seattle, so I wanted to write a short overview of things from the perspective of being back in Seattle. São Paulo is so very different from Seattle. In Seattle, there are no huge walls or fences around the houses. There are no doormen to the apartments. Most of our parks don't have fences around them. Our protesters are still encamped at Seattle Central Community College for the time being (their protesters are encamped at Praça Ciclista near Paulista and Anhangabaú. The weather in Seattle is cold, but not too cold. The weather in São Paulo is awesome, sunny with a bit of overcast and clouds from time to time. The people in Seattle are friendlier than I remember (another greeter I found was a homeless man selling Real Change newspapers, Daniel). Seattle has fewer Cathedrals and in less promenant placement. Seattle's Airport to Downtown light rail is much cheaper and convenient than the bus or taxi to Guarulhos. Seattle's major university is further away from downtown and requires a bus, but São Paulo's major university requires a metro and a bus. Seattle and São Paulo both have wonderful forests a few hours away. São Paulo's forests are slightly more accessible because you can walk 2 hours from the bus to the forest. São Paulo has more food vendors and many more vitiminas than Seattle. Seattle's buildings don't require any identification to enter the elevator. São Paulo's museums are cheaper and there are more public places. There are long streets in Seattle on a grid with numbering in useful patterns. There is no place in Seattle where I feel unsafe. I never felt unsafe in São Paulo but I am a pretty strange guy. I don't know about other people. Homeless people who sleep on the sidewalk in São Paulo are not harassed as much as in Seattle. There are the same number of panhandlers in São Paulo as Seattle. There are the same number of expensive cars in São Paulo as Seattle. There are many many more small cars and motorcycles in São Paulo. The method of crossing the street in São Paulo is completely different than Seattle (in Seattle, pedestrians have the right of way always while that is totally not true in São Paulo). There are many places in São Paulo where cars don't go because people fill the street. There are feiras (farmer's markets) many days of the week in São Paulo but only a few days in Seattle and never in the street. Cars in São Paulo will often run red lights at night not respecting the lives of pedestrians. Cars and motorcycles with sirens in São Paulo will break the law of the road and no one will flinch. Women in São Paulo dress very scantily. The metro of São Paulo changes the dynamic of the city so that people go out more. Wireless networks are strange in São Paulo. There may be something about the networks I was using, but they were flakey except for the Netgear. Electricity in São Paulo is half 110V (good for US devices) and half 220V (very bad for US devices, good for European devices). Not all are labeled, but smart people label them. The outlets are very often 2 prong, so bringing a 3 prong to 2 prong will save you days. A splitter wouln't hurt either. On my last days in São Paulo, they added a bunch of Natal decorations. This is similar to Seattle, but their decorations are a bit bigger. Graffiti in São Paulo is more common and much higher quality. There's an alien language used in many of the worse graffiti which piques my interest. Of course, it could be a simple substitution cipher which I would very much like to crack.
So giving this long list of differences, there must be a clear winner. And there is. São Paulo wins the city contest. Between Zurich (I stayed for 2 weeks of work), Berlin (3 weeks in the dead of winter), Tokyo (1 month in spring), Seattle (10 years), Spokane (19 years), San Diego (15 days over 10 years), Las Vegas (20 days over 7 years), and Kopenhaven (aka Copenhagen 2 nights), I pick São Paulo as the winner of all cities I have visited. I no longer seek the best city in the world, I have found it. I love Tokyo and I'll visit it and Berlin again, but São Paulo beats them hands down. Instead of promising to return when my tour of the world is finished, I will simply visit it as soon as I have time and things in order. My intention to visit Africa and Australia (the last two continents I have not visited) will have to wait until I have twice as much free time and money or a coincidental reason to visit them.
On my return trip I met a man briefly who visits São Paulo every year for Formula 1 races. He's a big fan and he remarked that people in Brasil are huge sport fans and that they are passionate and are open with their feelings. They sing and stand up all throughout the races. This is the Brasil I know and love. Even though I don't like sports as much as they do, I understand why they like their sports. So long as their feelings show I will say that's the Brasil I know. Also interesting he said that he also has traveled many places and that the Brazilian enthusiasm is not so in other places in the world.
So when will I return to Brasil? Let's say before May 2013. I have a lot of learning to do and I need to find a cheaper ticket.