Brazilians refer to São Paulo as babilônia, meaning a metropolis with all of the problems of a large city: pollution, traffic, crowds, filth, etc. Now I know why. I took the bus from Curitiba on Wednesday as I had a dinner with a friend from the U.S. that night. I arrived early, at 2:30 PM, in order to have time to shower and get ready before my dinner. I went straight to my CouchSurfer’s apartment building, but encountered neither him nor the keys to the house there. I waited there until 7 PM and finally called my friend explaining to him my situation and telling him that I’d be late. He offered me the shower in the hotel. I figured that it’d take me an hour to reach the hotel, but the doorman told me that because of the traffic it would take two. Shit! I had gathered all my stuff together and was headed out the door when my CouchSurfer showed up. By the time he had shown me around the apartment and I had gotten ready, it was already 8 PM. My host had told me that it would be better to meet my friend closer to home, as my friend had a car and driver available.
I arrived at the metro station ten minutes late, stressed about having kept my friend waiting. I called the cellphone number he had given me and his driver responded, they were stuck in traffic. An hour later I called again, they were still stuck in traffic. I waited for what seemed like an eternity in the metro station, all the while cursing myself for not having left earlier and my CS host for showing up four hours late. It took my friend two hours to traverse a distance of less than 10 km! São Paulo, babilonia.