You`ve already heard about my bus triumphs, but what about the other methods of transit here in this giant city(question mark) Planes, trains, and automobiles have been on my mind a lot, since transportation is rather a big theme in the beginning and intermediate EFL world. As you can imagine.
(And before I continue, let`s get this part out of the way. Ma`s keyboard seems to have changed overnight, and now I can find neither the colon, nor any of the proper accents for Portuguese words, nor quotation marks and apostrophes. Ugh sei la!)
First, the automobiles. I arrived here in Brooklin my first day by taxi, and that has been the extent of my taxi adventures so far–thank God, because they`re expensive! I have ridden a few times in Marilia`s sister`s boyfriend`s car (to a bus stop, natch), but I`d say that the most memorable car trip I`ve had so far was this past weekend. We were at a bar in Butanta with some friends, who invited other friends to join us…you know how it goes. One of this friends had a car and offered to drive us back to Brooklin, where people would crash in the apartment until the morning. Okay, cool. This girl had a special car because she was paraplegic, but that`s not even the interesting part. She was a terrifying driver (some drivers of stick have an alarming way of braking suddenly) and we had 7 people crammed into this tiny clown car and had to drive casually past the police to get on the highway, so half of us were sitting on people`s laps and trying to bend over and hide under the windows.
Secondly, the trains. Picture this. I am at Sao Bento, which can get semi-dodgy at times, and it`s 10 pm. I am with a friend and we want to get to his house in Jabaquara, which is straight down the blue line. Nobody is moving through the turnstiles: yes, the system of swipe cards is broken. (I found the colon!) The crowd is pissed (inclusive me, as I just observed a 3-hour lackluster lesson in beginning English and I am HUNGRY), and there are a few harried policemen trying to keep peace. There`s no way this will go on much longer. This is Brasil, my friend says. And he`s right: a lone guy darts through the turnstile. Suddenly the floodgates break. People everywhere, flouting convention because they want to get home! The two policepeople try to get a grip on the situation, and they almost do, but a tired crowd without answers is an unhappy crowd, and in an uncharacteristic move–in the States I am quite the rule folower–I go through the stile and keep walking. A free subway ride. Oh, Brasil.
I also keep making the inevitable mistake of taking the CPTM at rush hour. The CPTM is the commutery train here in Sampa, and one of the stations is right by Ma`s apartment. The second time I took it, I was still getting used to Brasil, and I got really spooked by the close quarters and people talking about me like I couldn`t understand, and I vowed not to take it again. However, after today, that trip was like a walk in the park–and yet, today I handled the even more hellish voyage so much better!
I just came back from Shopping Eldorado, which is 3 stations up the Emerald line. How bad can that be, right(question mark) In Sao Paulo at rush hour…you have no idea. I got in with my shopping bag, and the train was crowded. I almost didn`t make it in the car before the doors closed, actually. With each station, more people packed in–to the point where, manners be damned, everyone basically knew each other really well by the time we reached the stop before mine. Body odor, awkward body part contact, the works. I raised my eyebrows convivially, in a sign of mutual suffering, at the female coworker of the guy whose butt my hand was forcibly pressed into. Isso nao e vida, she had said as people crammed into the car (This isn`t life, or maybe This is no way to live.).
Shit, I thought to myself, I have to get off at the next station. No time to be timid. This was not going to be easy, since the door was barely in sight and I really hate making a scene. I readied my shopping bag, I shifted my weight a bit so that the people directly around me perceived that I was preparing to make a move. The train stopped. I shouted.
Licenca, pessoal, quero descer! (Exuse me, people, I want to get off!)
Ela vai descer, vai descer! went down the line. (She`s getting off, she`s getting off!)
Ahhh, vou tentar pelo menos, I shouted jovially (I`m going to try, anyway). I shoved and elbowed and smiled, and finally I was on the platform. A helpful set of hands birthed my shopping bag out of the melee behind me and into the free air, I shouted a `Brigada! (Thank you!) and the doors closed. Oof.
That was actually, I think, my biggest victory here so far. This is no place for the timid.