Forget shuttle buses and trains, why not walk to (or from) the airport instead? That is the preferred method of novelist Will Self, who even went as far to include one such stroll – from Los Angeles airport to Hollywood – in his surreal novel-cum-walkalogue Walking to Hollywood.
It is something I’ve experimented with myself here in Trujillo. Well, sort of. In my case, the airport was actually more an obstacle than the final destination itself.
Some weeks ago, you see, I decided that if I was going to have to spend my birthday alone this year – what with my wife being on the other side of the continent in Brazil – I’d do so by going on a long walk to the beach in Huanchaco, a small coastal town nine miles (15km) upcoast from Trujillo. The local airport – an entirely forgettable place if it were not for the charm of its arrivals lounge doubling as a car park – would merely serve as a milepost that, whilst requiring circumnavigation, would at least reassure me that the birthday beer I envisaged having on the beach was almost within reach. Continue Reading
In the months prior to leaving Brazil I’d written about walking and psychogeography as means of finding new ways to see, explore and understand the complexities and unseen beauty of São Paulo. It was fitting then, that during those final few months I became increasingly aware of a stencilled call to arms which seemed to echo my own advocacy for urban exploration:
‘See the city’
In the context of an iconic SP location like Parque Ibirapuera – where I took the photograph above – ‘ver a cidade’ (see the city) seems to convey a fairly straightforward observation: look how beautiful our city is. Continue Reading
Below is an English translation of my article for the Brasil Post (Huffington Post). Enjoy.
“Não existe amor em SP” (Love doesn’t exist in SP), sings Criolo in that beautiful song of his. I must admit, I was inclined to agree with him when my Paulistano wife and I first moved to São Paulo from London just over two years ago.
During my first few months here the city felt like an impenetrable and ugly concrete jungle whose dense canopy consisted solely of bland high-rises. And, of course, there was the bumper-to-bumper traffic, smelly rivers and turnstiles on buses, which even now still baffle me.
Much of this I recorded on my blog, the book is on the table, which I started after my wife and sister-in-law thought my stereotypically grumpy British observations provided an amusing outsider’s perspective on life in São Paulo. Continue Reading
As a lone traveller armed linguistically with but a mere Spanish phrasebook my anxiety levels were already hovering around substantial, but when our flight was unexpectedly diverted 250 miles west to a city on the coast they bypassed severe and frantically breached critical.
Our arrival, you see, had been impeded by geography: a plateaued city flanked by volcanoes and decorated with fog – a perfect shitstorm of topographic and atmospheric proportions that rendered ineffectual both the weather radar of our plane and the depth of vision of the pilots.
The morning after the night before.
Fortunately, there was scant time to fret further as it was just seven short hours before air traffic control detected the curtain of gloom being drawn long enough for us to be herded aboard and evacuated back to our original destination. Continue Reading
It was during my walk along the Minhocão – São Paulo’s grotesquely endearing monument to the car – that I first spotted it: an islet of tiled perfection in a city full of fractured and forgotten pavements.
An isle of tiled perfection (otherwise known as a ‘curb extension’). Note, the Minhocão in the background.
Unlike the pragmatically Ilha Grande (big island) and Ilhabela (beautiful island) which sit along the coast between Rio and São Paulo, mine is no island of exotica but instead one of Ballardian concrete.
Why, though, my fascination with a slab of paving in an unremarkable neighbourhood like Santa Cecília? Aren’t those ‘real’ islands on the Atlantic coast infinitely more interesting? Perhaps, but thousands of words have already been written in their honour; they’ve been Trip Advised to death.
What interests me are the ignored curiosities on our streets, and taking the time to stop, notice and appreciate them. As psychogeographer and novelist Iain Sincliar observes: ‘Walking is the best way to explore and exploit the city…allowing the fiction of an underlying pattern to reveal itself’. Continue Reading