How Interesting the City of Sao Paulo

“Let the words I speak today be soft and tender, for to-morrow I may have to eat them! Anon

We liked to stop in Turcuruvi on the way home from downtown Sao Paulo, but not because it was about half way and would give a person a break from driving or riding the Tremembe bus. Ah, our stop was the Tucuruvi market, the market Doris and I loved. It was a marvelous market where we could buy so many things for our table. Much was quite exotic under the roof of this large building and available at those open stalls. I want to have you stop at this market with me on this blog and hopefully enjoy every moment.

Brazil is one of the top fruit producing countries in the world and much of that seemed to land right there in the Tucuruvi market. I remember not just the varied-coloured fruits and vegetables piled high in order on tables but especially the Abacaxi; that’s the pineapple but it seemed only distantly related to what we buy here. Those pineapples were about twice the size, more yellow–so different from the ones we know here.  More important they were dripping with juice and sweetness when anyone began the slicing. So why am I so enthusiastic about those Abacaxi? This, they never gave me canker sores when now I have to be careful about what we buy locally. Those are picked so green and end up being quite acidy. The Abacaxi is a favourite for Brazilians and often on a sidewalk of a main street someone might be selling slices from a portable stand. Most non-Brazilians might be afraid of picking up some stomach bug at one of those stands. Me no! I never was sick from any pineapple. Oh to be back in Tucuruvi and take you along, just to buy a pineapple or two!

Another priority memory from Turcuruvi were the shrimp. Now when I speak of shrimp you might think of something small. These were prawns and of the same shrimp family but so much bigger. They came up each day to the market fresh and cold from the port of Santos. They were too large to deep fry so we had to slice them lengthwise to make sure they were cooked. But Doris could not do it for she was allergic to them–the fresh prawns would make her hands so red.  So Marlene would peel them, cut them in two and take out the central vein. Doris however could eat them when cooked and  each of us loved them. I always wondered how she could eat them but never prepare them for cooking.

You’ll want to know who this Marlene was. I don’t have space to give you the whole story though she was a blond young lady who often passed for our daughter. Marlene was from a very poor family and we opened up our home to her when her father died. She went to school from our home and at the same time she gave a hand with the household chores. But since she wasn’t a lot older than our Monica and Vernon, she had a fun time with them. Often Doris and I would be away during the evening doing something related to mission work and we found out that Marlene and our children would often be having a great time playing together while we were gone. But when our vehicle stopped at the gate all went quiet and they returned to their homework. At that time Monica took music lessons and Marlene picked up those lessons second hand. Later in life Marlene not only became a primary school teacher but has been one of the organists in a large church in the interior of the state. Isn’t it interesting the memories of good things that come back from precious times in the past—all because of the Tucuruvi market and prawns.

For those of you who may someday visit Sao Paulo, this city of some twelve million, I should pass on some mundane facts. Sao Paulo is now almost twice the size from those days. No matter how much you’ve studied South America, when you visit there this city will be a surprise. No other in the continent even hints at coming close to Sao Paulo for it is a huge industrial complex that is the pride of all Brazilians.

When your plane comes in low over the city preparing to land, it is surprising to see what looks like one city after another linked to each other. Those skyscrapers centers are small cities that are really just suburbs of the central core. Sao Paulo is high on a cool plateau that lifts it above  Rio’s altitude and away from the coast. That makes it especially cool during the winter months so that a sweater or jacket is “de rigeur.” In fact we installed a small kerosene heater in our home while living there just to take off the chill.

Another time I’ll write about other fruits and vegetables including the Guarana fruit that has twice the caffeine of the coffee bean. There is a humorous story there that I shall pass on—as well as other bits and pieces from our time in Sao Paulo. But I can’t close without mentioning the goodness of God doing that time and the lives we saw changed for the better through telling the story of Jesus and his love. So we’ll meet somewhere in Sao Paulo in this blog next week and then whet your appetite for a trip to this country and city we’ll keep writing about.

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