Brazilian Diary - Wednesday 9th June 2010

Our last full day in São Paulo! Having tried twice to get to MASP (Museu de Arte de São Paulo) and failed we were determined to make a go of it this time, so after breakfast the five of us (Lucy was back on her feet, although somewhat tentatively) headed off up the hill to Avenue Paulista. The museum was about twenty minute's walk away but we easily doubled this by meandering and wandering in true tourist fashion, partly due to certain Shopping Requirements that were under consideration.

The ticket office was manned by one of the world's most miserable and surly clerks, snapping and muttering when we committed such heinous crimes as paying for a R$15 ticket with a R$100 note. This was quite a contrast with virtually all of the other Brazilian shop assistants and waiting staff I dealt with who, even when faced with weird requests and requirements (black tea with cold milk is a bizarre and unknown concoction in Brazil but a seemingly Essential Requirement of Life for certain Britons) responded with polite helpfulness and humour. Anyway, we made it past Mr. Miserable and entered the museum - via a lift which was unexpected.

In the days since returning to the city we'd all been suffering from sore throats, itchy eyes and other symptoms of Urban Pollution Attack. There were no obvious smells in the air or a feeling that it got worse or better in different areas, I suspect it was just the combined effects of so many thousands of cars filling the streets and endlessly fighting their way from A to B and back again. For whatever reason it was physically relaxing and refreshing to step into the cool, softly-lit space of the art gallery and to feel time slowing down as I stepped into a contemplative and introspective state.

The museum had a small but fascinating collection, a few European artists and lots of Brazilian (or certainly South American) ones, most of whom were unknown to me but several of which I found engaging and (in some cases) engrossing. The layout of the museum was odd, we entered (via the lift) at the second floor and made our way down, ending up two levels below ground. The only real failing was that the shop appeared to be closed and I wasn't able to buy any prints or cards to remember some of the artists' names.

Our one remaining São Paulo gig (of the four that had been originally planned) was in the evening but at this stage of the trip expectations were running very low. We were all tired, Lucy was still well sort of 100%, our experiences along the way had made us wary of what had been promised for us, and all in all this was becoming something to get through rather than be excited about. The organisers had asked us (or rather Lucy, Jacqui & Bill) to sing an acapella piece that they'd never done together before and which needed some work to bring up to performance standard, and for Bill to teach a song for the participants to sing, both of which added an extra bit of pressure. Still, we'd added these and another couple of requests to the set list and had come up with something that should please everybody.

As with getting about anywhere in the city we needed to set off well in advance to allow for whatever we might find on the roads. In the middle of the afternoon we loaded up the minibus and set off towards Pinheiros.