Brazilian Diary - Thursday 10th June 2010

São Paulo would be sad to see us go - the day broke grey and cloudy. We were due to meet with Renata at noon to have a final meeting (primarily to sort out money matters) and go out to lunch together but that gave us the morning free for packing, preparation and last minute shopping.

Jacqui was very keen on the latter, after breakfast she was into a taxi to meet up with Renata for a guided retail therapy session. The rest of us walked up to Avenue Paulista where we separated - Lucy in search of Brazilian football paraphernalia for her sons, the boys to check out the nearby shopping mall. This had come highly recommended by the organisers and other Brazilian friends but it turned out to be quite a disappointment, filled with very conventional upmarket shops with extremely high prices. I'd been mildly tempted by the idea of an official Brazil football shirt but these were going for R$180 (nearly 70) which was way out of my league. After walking the aisles for a few minutes it was clear that there was nothing for any of us here so we each went our own way to while away our remaining couple of hours. I rode the Metro to see another part of the city but soon had to head back again in time for the meeting.

We met in the lobby of the hotel and were soon surrounded by paperwork. Each of us had a form to sign (in duplicate) indicating what we'd been paid and what this was in return for and I had another set for my dance workshops. There was a breakdown of the overall accounts for bringing the band to Brazil and, an unexpected addition, a certificate verifying our participation in the festival (once again I got two for my dual roles). Thanks and appreciations were exchanged and the last of the monies were paid over. The amounts we had originally been promised had all been 'rounded up' to allow for extra expenses and conversion charges (we were all paid in Reais) and this final act of generosity cast a very positive light on our whole experience.

Then it was off to lunch. There were lots of restaurants in São Paulo that provided a self-serve buffet service with either a fixed price or price per kilo (your plate was weighed each time) and Renata took us to an amazing one with an Italian theme - big, log-fired pizza ovens, a dozen types of pasta and an enormous selection of salads, veggies and cold cuts. We ate, drank and made merry with the prospect of a transatlantic flight starting to cast a shadow.

Checking out time at the hotel was at 2pm which was fast approaching. Renata was unfazed by this, suggesting that so long as one or two of us were there on time to start the process there wouldn't be any problems with taking our time to actually move out of the rooms. Bill and Jacqui set off to be there while the rest of us finished off our food, sipped our drinks (mine was pineapple juice with mint, something I developed quite a taste for) and eventually made our way back.

When we got there it was to find most of the cases stacked on a baggage trolley in the lobby. The hotel staff had not been as easygoing as predicted and Jacqui and Bill had done sterling service in moving most of the luggage on their own. The rest of us quickly packed and loaded the rest of our stuff and we were ready to head for the airport.