When São Paulo is pretty, it’s prettier than anything you can imagine. But when it’s ugly, it’s downright coyote ugly. And Largo da Batata, where today’s demonstration starts, is probably one of the ugliest places in the entire State.
I happen to know the place well, having worked just four blocks away, where the gentrification begins and the place changes name to Vila Madalena, the famous bohemian spot. What to say about it? The close to non-existent sidewalks, the seedy”American Bar” establishments (Sampa’s classic euphemism for strip club), the loud music coming from every other store trying to get your attention but only making you dizzy and praying for some silence.
And the bus terminal. Largo da Batata is a sort of a river delta, if you allow me the image, where the traffic from the main commerce streets, like Teodoro Sampaio and Cardeal Arcoverde, meet up an important avenue, Brigadeiro Faria Lima. It’s a hub for buses from all over the city, and, recently, a brand new Metrô station.
It’s where the workers meet the well-to-do, if only for a glancing moment; it’s a very busy spot, crowded night and day. Considering the protests have begun because of R$ 0,20 extra for awful services, there is no better place to demonstrate how awful the public transport is by concentrating on a place that showcases the cause better than a thousand words.
Largo da Batata has been through an expansive refurbishment, mainly because of the new Metrô station. But it still is one of Sampa’s ugliest places to be. When it rains, it sometimes floods. When it’s sunny, there’s no shade. The buses come and go and if you are lost, you are LOST in capital letters because there is little to no information on the itineraries or timetables.
The TV crews are there since early morning awaiting the spectacle. The last news inform us that the police has agreed to withdraw the use of rubber bullets and to “respect” the route defined for the march, as long as it doesn’t clog up the traffic on Paulista Avenue, as it has happened last week.
Also, nobody will be arrested for the possession of vinegar. I am taking this part of the news as a joke.
In the words of a poster I’ve seen: “Vai. E se der medo, vai com medo mesmo”.
Which translates as: “Go. And if you feel afraid, go afraid anyway”.