I’m in Sao Paulo attending the Transpoquip Event, well actually exhibiting and speaking but who’s counting…This is being organized by Sebas van de Ahe. He’s an old buddy of mine who organized shows for the Rai (Intertraffic) in the Netherlands. He invited me to be a part of his first show after leaving the Rai and Immigrating to Brazil. He lives in Rio but says this is the city of commerce in this country of 180 million souls.

After nearly 24 hours in country, I can now give you a learned description of this largest of our Southern neighbors, at least of its largest city.

Sao Paulo has a population of almost 20 million. It’s big, and that’s saying something if you some from Los Angeles.  I’m being assisted here by a friend of a friend and he tells me that the architectural style is "early Latin American." I would call it classic third world.  There are good looking sections like the one where my hotel is located, but most is the chock a block non zoning style you see in third world countries. Streets are lined with "bodega" like shops – with a high rise wedged in here and there. Downtown looks like most downtowns, with high rises and a broad avenue or two, but Sao Paulo lacks the "design" you see in many cities.  Few large Parks or sweeping urban vistas. 

I am struck by the amount of security here.   Virtually all buildings are surrounded by spike topped wrought iron fencing with "mantrap" entries and guard posts. It’s like every one is an embassy.  I’m told that some areas of the city are quite dangerous but I have seen no examples of that.

The facilities,  restaurants, shops, hotels, and the exhibit complex are fine, and in some cases excellent, but it’s like they neglected to finish the landscaping. The construction was completed but the company they hired to finish the sidewalks and planters hasn’t shown up yet, and the building was completed 10 years ago.

Parking is available, and costs about $4 for the first hour and $2.50 per hour thereafter. It can be expensive. An excellent dinner for two last night was $75 which included no dessert and one glass of wine (not each, just one glass of wine). The hotel is not expensive($100 a night) and I would call it a three plus star hotel. Perfectly serviceable and clean, but not the Ritz.  The currency here is the Rial – which is about 56 cents US.

Traffic is bad, but no worse than LA, Chicago or Houston. The air was very clean but I’m told that was because it rained yesterday. They have world class smog.

I’m most struck by the graffiti. It is everywhere – on major buildings downtown, even high up on skyscrapers. The taggers must be daredevils. I am surprised they don’t fight back. In LA one phone call and the "art" is gone the next day. Here it’s like they have given up. My host just shrugs his shoulders and says "what can you do?

The city is very clean. They have folks in orange jumpsuits all over the place sweeping constantly. There is no litter.  The electricity is 110vac but the sockets in the walls take getting used to. There are two types that can be side by side. One is standard US style (slot type) and the other is the "two prong" type you see in some European countries. I am going to investigate this further.

I’m about to start "day two." I’ll report back after the show.  Strange hours. The show is open from noon to 8 PM. Puts me a little off schedule.


John Van Horn

John Van Horn

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