Our home in São Paulo was a compact 1-bedroom apartment on a double-digit floor of a big bland downtown building with a fantastic view, many built-in conveniences, and a super comfortable bed. From the outside, things felt a bit chaotic. The building sits at the intersection of two main-ish streets with lots of foot traffic and a noticeable homeless population. The lobby was only slightly calmer with lots of comings and goings in a variety of languages (Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, and Spanish mostly) and elevators delivered its passengers to their floor at a half-walled back hallway that opens to the view opposite of that which is visible from our apartment. It was mind-boggling to grasp how the sea of concrete could stretch so insanely far in every direction, but there it was – no matter which way we looked, building after building after building full of tiny boxes housing millions and millions of people. Indeed, I felt a bit like an ant that never tired at simply staring out into the abyss.
Inside of the apartment, we had a shocking number of conveniences well organized into the small space. A huge couch for lounging, one of the most comfortable beds we’ve had yet, tons of storage, every kitchen appliance we could need, a washing machine, an elaborate drying system, filtered water, a full fridge, a dining table, tv, large computer monitor, and still space for the dogs’ kennel. Our host was very easy to communicate with and even stopped by one evening for a nice chat. We were quite comfortable, and in a challenging city, it makes everything seem easier to have things run smoothly at home.