Friday, August 11, 2006

Paranapiacaba

That is Tupi-Guarani for “the place where you can see the ocean”.

This shot was taken from what I think is the closest way to see something like that after dropping from the bus. Just go back a bit and behind the parking lot you will see a trail. It will take you to a little wood structure from where you can sunset from.

Trick is, fog rises early so, city is almost always surrounded by moisture. That day the fog almost made into its valley, but the Sun was way too hot for it to sit and cover every little red house built by English engineers.

They arrived end of 1800’s, looked at the problem and built a solution.The trains were supposed to be carried up the 800 meters from sea level along 10 kilometers. How steep? Do the math.

Marcio can tell you all about it at the Train Museum that his father, assassinated while driving his locomotive left him as Life’s Work. Today Marcio prays that powered hands will see the benefit of reconnecting the “Baixada Santista” to the elevated downtown life of Sampa, or Sao Paulo for its natives.

There is a commercial, diesel train taking minerals down that line, for exports. But no Litoranea, or line that “paulistas” and visitors can take to explore the City from its best angle.

Diversion

For that you might try flying back from Rio. Take the shuttle from Rio to Congonhas in Sao Paulo, and pray for its pilot to take you over the “Serra da Tijuca”. Enjoy the long single side isthmus that follows for miles buffering the land from the tropical Atlantic Ocean. And then, if it comes flying down towards Congonhas right from NE he/she might take you over Cubatao at the closest distance to Sao Paulo’s center. One day I came thru it as if going inside a crater made out of clouds with the Sun settling behind them.

If you want to help Marcio, here is his phone in Paranapiacaba: 1155 7605-2398 or you can try ABPF’s numbers [Associacao Brasileira de Preservacao Ferroviaria] for Brazilian Association for Rail Preservation at 55 11 6695-1151. [You can also set group visits to Paranapiacaba by calling this number.]

Trip

Check the maps at the subway while in Sao Paulo. CPTM is the old, recovered train system and it connects to Metro, the subway. Get one ticket to jump from one system to the other. You can go pretty much anywhere with them. Walk the distance or try buses [EMTU] which are way less predictable, and you don’t need to try that hard. Best way to learn Sampa is walking its streets. Just be street-smart and don’t try unknown areas after dark.

But if you are brave enough to try by yourself, go to Estacao da Luz (close to the Museum of Portuguese Language, recommended) take the CPTM [light brown line in the map image] train to Rio Grande da Serra all the way to its end and then take the 424 bus, a blue one to Paranapiacaba. It will let you just past the parking lot where the “mirante” hides itself.

Paranapiacaba is down the steep road past the little Church. The city lives for its Winter Festival that just about happened, so during weekdays don’t expect to see many stores and places open, but weekends are better served.

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