Saying good-bye to Sao Paulo wasn’t hard. We were ready to move along. Nothing allowed me to wish it farewell better than a stop at the ballyhooed Biennial and popping Sonique. The Biennial, themed around the intersection of art and politics, was a sensory overload of art from all over the world housed in the never-ending layers of an Oscar Niemeyer building. Sonique, a bar-slash-club, kept the Lemongrass Martinis flowing and the Spicegirls playing. Z Carniceria is a mini-Meat Packing District: what was once a butcher’s is now a bar catering to the alternative hipster set, replete with meat still hanging from the ceilings. It is places like this that will make me miss Sao Paulo: the city is unbelievably grittysexycool. You need to peel away at some layers but you will finally get to something juicy. Maybe it’s a small store in Bixiga selling delicious pesto or a tiny pizza place on Rua Augusta with graffiti-covered walls and incredible slices – Sao Paulo will have you reeling at its hidden gems.
Our journey to Cape Town took us through the city of Buenos Aires. We had a twelve-hour layover and I wasn’t about to waste it. I cabbed it to Plaza de Mayo’s Casa Rosada to meet up with my darlings Emily and Kera, not just friends but sisters by a bond stronger than blood: a cappella. Streetphoria, Latin America edition, was on. Emily needed to go to a Bolivian festival out in the boonies for schoolwork so off we went on the rickety Subte to a far out part of the city where 65,000 people had gathered to celebrate the Virgin and the Bolivian community. Dancers, parades and different smells all came together in a complete inundation of the senses. After a guided romp through the festival, Emily’s coordinator was kind enough to drive me back to downtown Buenos Aires, pointing out the sites as we went along. We spoke in Spanish, but a month of Portuguese seemed always to get in the way. Once in Palermo, Emily and Kera were intent on giving me a quick taste of Argentina, since I had practically spent the entire day in Bolivia. They rushed me from empanadas to dulce de leche ice cream in a flash and boy, what an intensely phenomenal experience that was. But if there was one thing that made my race through the city worth it, it was being with two people that made me excited about Williams again. When I went back to share a cab ride with two people on my program to the airport in order to catch our 11:30PM flight to Cape Town, it turned out that they had left already, leaving me stranded in a city that I didn’t know without a peso to my name. Shocked, flustered and totally lost, I wouldn’t have known what to do without my friends. Emily and Kera handed me cash, hailed me a cab and got me on my way back to the airport. I owe them so much more than just the money they lent me. After over a month of resenting what waits for me back at Williams, they reminded me of a Williams that is a world of beautiful friends who will look out for me (and I them), no matter what.
In Cape Town now and life’s good. I’m living in the Bo-Kaap, a Muslim neighborhood of Cape Malays living in pastel-colored houses, just a couple of blocks up from the action of City Bowl. Table Mountain and the two oceans follow me wherever I go. The city is full of great eats (tons of breezy hipster cafes and restaurants to keep me satisfied), but the thing I drink in the most is the fresh ocean/mountain air. The colonial architecture, the imposing cloud-covered mountains and the crystal blue ocean are all enough to have seduced me for life.