Australia held an extraordinary federal election on 2 July. Citizens on the electoral roll could participate at overseas voting centres prior to election day. Brazil had two centres: Brasilia’s Embassy and São Paulo’s Consulate-General. With a terrible federal government in power, I ensured I exercised my democratic right by visiting São Paulo during the late June early voting period.
Although many tourists enter South America via São Paulo, the continent’s largest city is not a major tourist attraction. Despite this, I enjoy the city and, besides voting, also caught up with fellow runner and Pearl Jam fan, Cleide.
Union protesters on São Paulo’s main Paulista Avenue had the volume cranked up
This São Paulo building is an example of the city’s varied and interesting architecture
On 24 June I walked through central São Paulo to the multi-storey building hosting Australia’s Consulate-General. To access the building proper security viewed my passport (proof of Australian citizenship) and checked me for undesirable objects. Then I could enter and take the smart lift up to the Consulate General’s floor.
Showing my passport again, a staff member took me to the adjacent room set up as a temporary voting centre. The worker found my name on the electoral roll, explained the new senate voting rules and asked me to fill an early voting form. My residence lies near an electorate border and the worker requested electorate confirmation as her map wasn’t clear. I completed separate upper and lower house voting forms and placed them in the envelope to be sealed. The other Consulate General official witnessed my signature and I was set to go.
Although official and proper, voting at the Consulate General wasn’t an authentic Australian election experience. The voting vicinity lacked political party people pushing how to vote cards and volunteers sizzling sausages and selling home made jam – essential parts of an Australian election. The Consulate General however did have portraits of Prime Minister Turnbull and Foreign Minister Bishop glaring from the reception wall.
São Paulo glass door shadows and reflections
São Paulo is a massive, crowded city with limited safe running areas. On Saturdays, University City, the University of São Paulo’s giant campus, grants runners and cyclists access to its roads.
Friend Cleide completed the Rio de Janeiro Marathon four weeks earlier and was in early training for September’s Foz do Iguaçu Marathon. Each Saturday Cleide meets her coach and fellow runners to run the roads of University City. This Saturday I was lucky enough to join Cleide for a 12km jog. For only my 4th run in seven months I was happy to complete the distance at the scheduled six minute per kilometre pace.
My Sunday afternoon flight west to Campo Grande departed from the closer Congonhas Airport. Cleide kindly offered to drop me off from a barbecue at her relatives’ place. A combination of enjoyable company, food and heavy traffic on the route to the airport meant I arrived only 15 minutes prior to departure. Packing light, I didn’t need to check in luggage. I raced through security and found my departure gate, joining a few other stragglers on the last tarmac bus. Finally on the plane, the Pantanal beckoned.
Cleide and her relatives enjoying the churrasco (Brazilian barbecue)