Wednesday, 29 November 2006

A Lie-In In Downtown Sao Paulo

The main problem with house-sitting downtown in The House of Horror (and I mean proper downtown) is not the traffic or the violence or the pollution, it's the noise. Every type of noise conspires to keep me from sleep. When you live in an area populated by hookers and homeless people, skatekids and transvestites, and with multilane highways in view, you wouldn't expect it to be quiet.

But none of these things causes me a moment of bother.The biggest cause by far is the school next door. It has a siren so loud that ships at sea wonder where the fog has gone. Pupils living out of town can hear the first siren at 7am if they've overslept. As São Paulo isn't overburdened with schools, or the space for them, our school works in shifts of five hours each for kids of different age groups. The siren sounds every fifty minutes until 11pm. I have no chance of oversleeping. The church clock is regular as clockwork between these times too. It tells me when the kids will be coming out into the schoolyard for their daily screaming competition. Factor in regular helicopters, the police station next door, the election rallies, the background noise of the constant traffic, and you can forget sleep during the day. The homeless people sleep through the lot though, even on concrete. I should ask them what their secret is.

Why do I need to sleep during the day then? At night, the family of pigeons living on top of the leaky roof sound like they require feeding 24 hours a day. You never see a baby pigeon mostly because they're all hiding upstairs at The House of Horror. The waterfall down the inside of the wall was interesting during the rainy days. There are also the lorries that deliver to the supermarket across the road, but only in the madrugada. Plus items being blown onto the roof from way up in the block of flats next door - towels; single socks (it's never a pair that goes missing); torn-up photos of ex-lovers; and a huge bra which nearly knocked me out one day while trying to open the gate. It's now being used as a double hammock in the yard. There is also some noise of unknown source which occurs in random bursts throughout the night. It could be scooters backfiring or bolts slamming.

If these things happen during the week, I can sleep at the weekend, right? Wrong. Saturday - work. Sunday - The fruit and veg market in the street right outside. They start setting up at 4am and shout 'Um Real!' in rhythm with my hangover headache until 3pm. I thought I'd taken all that The House of Horror could throw at me, including when it threw massive cockroaches down from the ceiling onto my bed. I don't want to think about what might have happened if I'd been sleeping face up with my mouth open. They don't particularly scare me, but the ugliness makes me shiver. It's hard to relax when you're waiting for the next one to dive from the beams.

There are other minor irritations, but this morning took the biscuit, the cake, and the milk shake all in one. Just when I was getting used to the situation. My early classes had been cancelled so I was looking forward to sleeping, between sirens, until maybe 10.30am. Somewhere between Air-raids 3 & 4 came the sound of music and screams. Another party in the flats next door? No, it was louder. The crowd noise was big. Some Heavy Metal band was playing a gig. It wasn't even 9.30am. How? I thought all their little fans that made the devil horns with their hands didn't come out during daylight hours. I had a wander outside but couldn't find or hear anything. Muito confusado. Maybe it was just in my head, or The House of Horror was playing tricks on me. Either Way, I'm glad the owners are back soon. I really need a lie-in.

1 comment:

DnJ Travel said...

Hey there! My partner and I are about to set off on a year-long work/travel trip around South America, and we would really really really like to do house-sitting in Sao Paulo/Rio/Parati when we arrive in April.

Would you mind it if we called or emailed about how you got the house-sitting gig, what website you found it on, your experience, etc? Your blog is fascinating by the way! Totally using it as a reference to prep for our trip!

It would be great if you got in touch!