Bella Bobrow: Week one in São Paulo: Thirsty Brazilians and Connect 4

Bella Bobrow

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As of today, I have been in São Paulo, Brazil, for one week.

If you are imagining an actual jungle instead of a concrete one, you couldn’t be more far off. This metropolis is the third largest in the world. And although the place isn’t super vegan-friendly, the coffee is incredible.

I’m lucky enough to be staying with my godparents, their two kids, and their three loud dogs. Well, two are loud. The other is blind and sleeps a lot.

The room I share with the little girl is much pinker than I’m used to. The first thing she said to me when I arrived was “Do you have my mermaid tail?” The suit is very sparkly and actually works underwater. Half my suitcase consisted of gifts and purchases the family had first shipped to my house in Ventura, which is far cheaper than having USA-made products sent directly into Brazil.

The two kids have been giving me Portuguese pronunciation lessons. “Lim-ow?” “It’s not lim-ow! It’s lim-aAOh.” “Lim-aoh?” “No, no, not like that.” We have also played at least 50 games of Connect 4.

Everyone here speaks a tad of English, but the only Portuguese that I used on my first day was “Eu sou vegetariana” (I am a vegetarian) and “obrigada” (thanks). I’m making progress though!

At school, all the classes are in Portuguese, even chemistry (which is already a foreign language). It’s a place even smaller than Foothill, and you have to show an ID to get in the door. Monday was my first day – it was filled with lots of people hugging me, offering me food, and talking way too fast.

There is one big thing people are always talking about, and it’s not the Oscars. It’s water. Think the California drought is bad? You wouldn’t want to move here.

Just to compare, in California the governor asked citizens to cut usage by 20 percent. Well, here, there are serious talks of the state forcefully rationing water, making residents go 2 days with water, 5 without. In some areas of the city, they have already started to shut off water in the afternoon.

The Cantareira river system, which serves 6.2 million people, is at 5 percent capacity. Other rivers are similarly dry.

What little water they have is polluted and few dare to drink from the tap without a purifier. At restaurants and in homes, everyone drinks bottled or filtered water. It’s super different, like almost everything else here.

Aside from this massive crisis, my first few days have been incredible, and I look forward to sharing more of my adventures as I get to know this wonderful country.

 

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