Thoughts. Words. Action.

A few days in Sao Paolo, Buenos Aires and Mexico City

Sao Paolo, Brazil 

One of the most populous cities in the world, with one of the worst traffics in the world.  It was just as crowded as I remembered, and just as alive.  Not too far from the green, lush and well-maintained Jardim neighborhood, the seemingly endless, tightly packed and dilapidated ’favelas’ vividly exhibit the stark social contrasts that are present in most of the developing countries.

Brazil, as one of the BRICs, is one of global markets of explosive growth, and it shows.  There are more cars, more opportunities, more excitement and more pride in the people of the city.  The cab driver shows how he regularly uses the ‘Waze’ iPhone app to stay abreast of traffic jams and accidents, and to connect with other drivers – yes, while driving.

The Daredevils of the Road, however, are the motorcycle riders.  The natives have a much more derogatory name for them.  These guys do play with their lives, with one finger on the horn; they whiz past you, weaving in and out of the traffic, whether it is standing still or moving steadily.  They will deliver their packages to their destination, come hell or high water.  Take that, Dominoes!

And what can you say about Brazilian steaks?  Flavorful, tender and juicy.  Every bite is a treat.  Accompany it with the side orders, especially the delectable bite-sized cheese roll, and you would not want to stop.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Driving through the shimmering lights of downtown, it is evident why Buenos Aires has been compared to Paris at night.  The wide main road is brightly lit; the buildings have a very European, particularly French-influenced architecture, complete with the false balconies that are not very practical, but so beautiful to look at.

The massive opera building glitters like a diamond among the other structures.  A ray of light shoots up in the sky from the Obelisk not too far from the opera, shouting to the world ‘Buenos Aires is here!’  Walking distance from the Obelisk, you can stroll through the Theater district.  Live venues line both sides of the road, one right next to the other.  Flashing, multi-colored grand marquees invite you to enjoy the latest shows, or you can spend some happy moments in the casino at the end of the street.

From there, it’s a short walk up to Puerto Madera, a two-kilometer strip dotted with excellent restaurants and office building, on both sides of the water inlet.  Sit back in one of the excellent steak houses to enjoy a leisurely lunch, or a very late dinner – they stay open well past midnight, and hours seem to just slip away as you observe tourists and natives alike strolling up and down the street, relaxed, arm in arm, talking and smiling.

The Brazilians and the Argentinians have an on-going rivalry for who has the best steaks.  As far as I am concerned, both of them are winners.  So enjoy the superb steaks, and be prepared to give a diplomatic answer depending on where you are.

Mexico City, Mexico

Landing in the new terminal in Mexico City was an unexpected, but very pleasant experience.  The facility, amenities and the staff were all world-class.  The immigration process was smooth, and the inspectors were courteous.

Going through customs is still luck of the draw.  Press the button when you hand in the customs form, and if the red light shines – you lose.  You get to open all your luggage and have it thoroughly inspected.  If you are lucky, you’ll see the green light and breeze through customs.

At around 7am, the drive from the airport to the newer development of Santa Fe area is almost two hours because of the early morning traffic.  The neighborhood of Santa Fe has blossomed into a very modern and cosmopolitan center, with a number of upscale restaurants – including nothing less than an English pub, and a park with a modern mall underneath it.

An interesting idea is the ‘Dinner in the sky’ experience.  The eating space is a large metal table set up like a bar with fixed chairs, covered by a red canopy.  The entire ‘restaurant’ is hoisted up into the sky with a large crane.  That is right.  You can enjoy your dinner up in the sky, which I am sure was not what 77 Bombay Street had in mind when they wrote their hit ‘Up in the Sky’.  All in all, the experience in Mexico City was quite pleasant.

All three cities reinforced my conviction that the world out there is waiting to teach us about life.  There are sights, smells, tastes, risks, and delights in each new place, and in each locale we revisit.  We add to our humanity, and add to the collective experience of humanity when we partake in the feast of life.  So happy travels and travel happy!

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