Wednesday, September 21, 2011


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The city I live in is right on the outskirts of Sao Paulo, about a twenty minute bus ride away (depending on how psychotic the driver is feeling that day). As much as it may feel like your life is in mortal danger at any moment, these guys are amazing. Skirting in and out of traffic at heart stopping speed, coming within inches of smashing into other vehicles, nearly side-swiping motorcycles, I'm reminded of the expertise of French bus drivers. I'm flabbergasted, every time, that we make it to our destination without some sort of accident.

From my experience, Sao Paulo's metro system is safe and clean and easy to navigate, if horribly overcrowded. It's easy to look at the surface and think of public transportation as this wonderful boon, but when you consider how many people here are forced to travel every day by bus, train, or metro, the picture changes. If you just can't abide strangers' various body parts rubbing up against your own, public transportation in this city is probably not for you. But, at a few of the stations (such as the Sao Caetano stop, shown below), you may find yourself serenaded by piano. These aren't paid musicians, and they're not subway scroungers who are trying to make some spare change. They're normal people, sometimes weary travelers, sometimes students who can't afford a piano of their own to practice on. This guy here was alternating between Souza and Samba.

Yesterday, we spent the afternoon in Liberdade, Sao Paulo's Japanese neighborhood. Even in the midst of all that steel and concrete and noise, we discovered a place of peace and Zen. Maybe not the nicest Japanese garden out there, but a welcome interruption in such an otherwise chaotic place. And lunch, as usual, was amazing. Gyoza, real ramen (not that crap you get for seventy-five cents a packet in the U.S.). I've yet to be disappointed in a meal here, even when it's traditional Japanese.

It was also there in Liberdade that I met a rep for a fight gear company called Pretorian. He informed me that former Pride and UFC heavyweight champion Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira has a line of gear coming out soon, though nothing is yet available to the general public. However, Mino had given the rep two kimonos and two pairs of shorts to test market. The kimonos were already gone, but I scored a nice pair of Minotauro Sports shorts (yes, I snatched them right off the poor bisected mannequin). Sorry I didn't catch your name, Praetorian Rep Dude, but thanks for the hookup (and the free gi patch)!

I've been training jiu-jitsu here with Cristiano Spadone (faixa preta under Luciano "Casquinha" Nucci) on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for about three weeks now. His game is so smooth, allowing us to play a bit while gently nudging us into a position where he can strangle the hell out of us. Just when I feel like I might be close to gaining superior position, I'm tapping out and wondering what the hell just happened. The next step is adding judo with Marquinho Tortorello (who also has super solid newaza), and MMA on the off days.

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