23 Mar Escape route
Sao Paulo airport on a humid Saturday morning. Escape from the confines of caring these past few weeks; time for a bit of R&R away from the late winter chill. I saw the sun rise here, a little reluctantly it seemed as it struggled out from a grey-white shroud – looks like industrial haze but may just be tropical heat. I am ‘airside’ in transit so can scarcely say I have set foot in Brazil but I have had a cup of their famous coffee…… Which was underwhelming, unexciting, irresistibly demanding of understatement but sufficiently big on caffeine to hit a spot that really needed hitting after 11 hours tourist class with TAM. A collection of weary transatlantic overnighters sit alongside me, heavy-lidded, their heads nodding and lurching as sleep beckons uncontrollably. They should have had the coffee.
Someone told me this week that the flight here from London is the longest journey you can take over water. I found it hard to believe but watching the in-flight map you realise it is indeed a long suspension over the north and south Atlantic, more than 8 hours without sight of dry land. A little surreal and comical to see this huge journey dramatised by an enormous on-screen plane taking a whole night to cross a tiny on-screen ocean!
The airport at Sao Paulo, (acronym-ised to GRU – work that one out if you can) is all glass and granite, shiny and new and pre-Olympian – or should that be pre-Olympican? A glass cocoon from which to gaze out on Brazil’s big industrial sprawl, an enormous city of almost 12 million souls. As we climbed high over it at around 8.30 a.m. heading south to Buenos Aires the vastness of the city is laid out below, like a massive architect’s model of concrete and cement before the landscaper got to work.
Not quite 3 hours south you reach Buenos Aires, offering its own take on hugeness. Stretching for miles and so close up against the bank of the mighty Rio Plata it should be at risk of falling in. Argentina and a river called Plate – you expect a swathe of silver glistening in the morning sun, no? It was a shock the first time I saw it and it remains kind of unsettling but this huge river is the Big Brown: brown like liquid milk chocolate; big as in humungous; an expanse of opaque, slow-moving water on its way to the sea.
17 hours and here I am in the late summer warmth of this amazing city, almost half a world and a couple of seasons away and ready to roll. Nice to be back on the blog!