So I've been here in Sao Paolo for a few days now, and here are my observations:
a) It really is very much like Europe. If someone told me I was in southern France, I'd believe them (aside from the different language, of course). And aside from the fortress gates in front of nearly every home, as if they were fearful that an army was soon to attack. Definitely unFrench.
b) I finally understand why over the years I have met two Brazilians in NY who inexplicably look Japanese: the incredible Japanese migration. Starting in the early 1850s, so many Japanese came here to Brazil from Japan. And today, they don't really even identify with Japan. They are fully Brazilian. It seems weird at first until I realize that I, as an American, am the same. I'm technically from Europe, but I don't identify with the land of my ancestors. I'm 100% American. I learned all this at the Japanese migration museum in Liberdade--like a Japantown.
c) I like it here. The longer I am here, the more I feel comfortable and at home. Everyone is so nice and welcoming.
d) The country doesn't feel so much in 'poverty' as I had originally thought. It's just got a tropical island feel. Very cool. Laid back. And... colorful! The graffiti murals are EVERYWHERE. And it doesn't look bad. It looks really great!
e) The hills. You can't be fat in this city. Or you can be, but you'd need a car. The steep hills; the steps that go on forever--every day is a hike. At least in the area where the hostel is. Just walking around the city, I climbed "75 flights" according to my phone, just today alone.
f) I admit I ate at Subway. But I had the Brazilian steak on my sandwich. :)
g) This is the nicest hostel I've ever stayed in. And given that I've stayed in more than twenty throughout Europe and Asia, that's saying a lot. Clean, hip, friendly. And I can get work done on my computer. And the beds rock. And the other residents from all over the world: England, Peru, Ireland, Netherlands, France, Brazil, Panama, etc. Viva Design Hostel. A fine choice.
h) The subway system is complex, clean, modern, and air conditioned. The city has over 12,000,000 people and you can tell in the subway---I felt like I was back in Shanghai. Throngs and throngs of people.
I want to write more but the tapping on my keyboard is probably annoying my roommates. It's 2:30am. Gnight!