This time, I was given no such limitations. Indeed Régis and fellow poet Horácio Costa took me to the heart of the city for a spectacular view of the São Paulo skyline from a restaurant atop one of the older skyscrapers. Another afternoon Horácio took me to an historical museum near the old city center, and later, at sunset, we wandered the streets where hundreds of poor Indians and others who had migrated from Brazil’s provinces gathered on outlaid scarves and worn rugs displaying whatever deitrus they hoped to sell—pencils, cards, change purses and, in many cases, seemingly worthless trinkets of what can only be described as junk.
One still sees things in wealthy São Paulo, however, that one would never witness in Rome, Paris, or New York. Near one of the swankiest shopping centers of the city, a small child, still almost a baby, had been posted to sell what seemed like sets of colored pencils. The child was crying in its evident abandonment. I watched for a few moments in a combination of horror and fascination before turning back to my hotel.
I dropped the equivalent of $50.00 in Reals into the child’s cup, the boy hardly noting my presence.
New York, May 3, 2000