"If I were starting a business, it would be in either concrete or hair gel. I'd be the richest man in Brazil."

Avenue Paulista - Sao Paulo, Brazil, originally uploaded by Aaron Michael Brown.

Some people were complaining about the look of this blog, so I've done some HTMLing, and added my top 100 favorite blogs to the sidebar. Now you can procrastinate just like I do!

This is a quick entry to write about the horrendously intense clouds that were looming over Avenue Paulista this afternoon. The day had started with an unbearable 90 degrees of heat and humidity and awfulness, but as the day wore on, and I know this is a cheap cliche but I'm running with it, you could palpably feel the tension in the sky as the clouds rolled in and got ready to rain like all get out as it tends to do here in Sao Paulo. Granted, this afternoon we were spared the onslaught, but after years and years of Portland's six-month someone-left-the-faucet-on-upstairs drizzle, the sheer volume of the water falling from the sky is quite impressive. Even the storms in Minnesota's summer, complete with afternoons spent in the basement listening to the radio for information on tornadoes, doesn't quite compare. Sao Paulo is a pretty tense city; the streets are loud and full of cars that won't cede an inch to pedestrians, the pace is fast and the fumes noxious, and the general concrete fortifications that parcel out this entire city create a pretty stressful metropolis. I've already written some on the way safety is constructed spatially and it's relationship to health, and considering how much of a beating Sao Paulo has already given to my lungs (pollution), my liver (caipirinhas), and now my heart (all this stress) it becomes a lot easier to see the tolls and frustrations with urbanity that have long driven everyone from Thoreau to the Brady Bunch to my parents to choose shelter by living in the suburbs. I wrote about New York a few weeks ago, comparing the city to Anne Spirn's conceptual Granite Garden, but here in Sao Paulo the term "Granite Jungle" seems more fitting; Sao Paulo humid, sticky, and full of the invasive species of homo concreteus-sprawlicus that suggests that guiding growth of the city is impossible. After a particularly busy day on the train system today, a suburban commuter line pulled above ground to a neck of town I had never visited before; the urban landscape still continued in all directions, as far as I could see. The enormity and sheer size of Sao Paulo remains conceptually out of my grasp, especially as a kid used to living within a mile of Portland's Urban Growth Boundary. But I digress. I have more that I want to write about water in the city of Sao Paulo (specifically in the way that the rivers have been straight-jacketed with concrete and asphalt, like everything else in this city, and the torrential summer floods turn the steep city street gutters into gushing streams, guiding the water to who-knows-where downstream where someone less fortunate probably lives) but I should be sleeping to rest up for Carnival this weekend, the futebol game tomorrow, and hell, even some academic work somewhere in there.

To end on a happy note, I arrived early to the Metro station today, and while flustering about my generally horrendous Portuguese, the woman working at the convenience store took a liking to me and, after asking where I was from, gave me my coffee for free. This only really saved me about forty five cents - the Real/Dollar conversion rate is generous - and they only serve coffee around here in the tiniest thimble-like shot glasses, but it made for a good start to my day. I've also been meaning to write about experiencing culture through literally consuming it in the form of Brazilian takes on pizza, sushi, mangoes, alcohol, and the like, but that post will come in time too, I guess.

On another happy note, I received the most adorable email from my next host family in Curitibas. I'm pretty sad to leave Aldeni, my mom-away-from-mom who feeds me super well and greets me with a long, cheerful "Oi!" every time I come home from class, but this program is of course continuing at break neck speed. I've been on IHP for about a month?! What?!

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