Admittedly I was apprehensive about arriving in São Paulo – enormous, grimy and dangerous, it seems to live in the shadow of the glamorous Rio de Janeiro. And it is large. Overwhelmingly large. Home to 11 million people, close to 30 million people live in the entire urban region; it is the third largest city in the world.
Despite this, I have felt a lot safer than I thought I would. The people are incredibly open, friendly and infinitely patient with my ropey Portuguese. Pulsatingly energetic, the city has a real buzz to it and a grit, which makes it exciting.
I discovered that my affectionate Portuguese nickname, Hugozão, which was given to me by my fellow Portuguese students at uni, is not quite as innocent as we first thought. Formed by sticking the augmentative –zão on the end of my name, you only have to look up the verb ‘gozar’ to realise that a ‘gozão’ is a large amount of something rather unpleasant.