Sao Paolo

A city of many layers, from what I could gather through my limited Portuguese (I imagine Rio is more geared to English tongues and fancies) and restricted time here. Towering apartment blocks and offices keep snug the middle-classes but pounding the streets reveals the vibrantly aspirational along with those content – or doomed – to spend their days outdoors; possessions loosely bound in brightly coloured bags, bottles of cachaça glinting in the sun. Then what delight to enter the cool of the art gallery between banking houses on Paulista; so close to neglected old masters that I could have defaced them with my quill. The same street gives a fascinating insight into what once was here, when the use of oils was still restricted to cooking and lubing…

Regular pedants will know that on my every foreign trip I insist on assembling local bread, cheese and salami into a reassuring picnic, chewing the fat while overlooking some great site or simply staring at foreigners. And what could be a nicer spot to do this from than the small, gated park of Trianon? Within minutes I am utterly terrified, to the amusement of assorted office hounds on their own lunch-breaks. Tough policemen break into girlish laughter at my demeanor. The cause? Admiring the palms above my humble bench my eyes reach a delicate, floating gauze of…spiders…spiders EVERYWHERE…webs with legs protruding across the very paths I came by (they must be in my hair, have laid their eggs by now!). Fat spiders, skinny spider, little spiders, GIANT spiders, all of them laughing their tiny/huge venomous chops off. Yes, that’s right – a little bit of jungle is preserved right here, in this supposed sanctuary, simply to ruin the peace of jelly-limbed Europeans like myself.

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