After having visited Santos, I have to say that the leaning tower of Pisa seems like very small thinking. Santos has its very own leaning skyline.
Santos is a small city with Brazilian standards. It has some 400 000 citizens in the city proper, two millions if you include the small towns close to it. Sao Paolo, an hour or so away, has 12 millions citizens.
Santos is situated in a valley, surrounded on three sides by tree covered mountains, with the fourth facing the water. Wherever you look in Santos, you’ll see mountains in the background, often shrouded in fog, and always breathtakingly beautiful. The seaside is an important harbour: every year during summer it is filled with cruise ships, although since the season hasn’t started yet there’s mostly cargo ships now. You can see them in the horizon or crossing the bay. My faithful guide loves the cruise ships and used to work on one, but personally I can’t help but find the cargo ships more beautiful and more interesting and definitely filled with fewer tourists. The city has enthusiastically built high riser by the beach, so many that the city suddenly turned warmer. Without thinking they had accidently built themselves a very effective cover from the cooling breeze from the ocean.
The literary festival is celibrating its tenth anniversary this year, and so far it seems amazing. The organizer owns an amazing independent bookshop, with handsome dark bookshelves and a café that serves an absolutely perfect coffee. And beer. I can’t think of any reason why anyone should ever leave the bookshop, if it wasn’t for the fact that the literary festival takes place at the theatre of the community centre. The only fault I could possibly find with the bookshop was that all the books were in Portuguese. But we all know that that won’t keep me from buying some.
Brazil is in the middle of an election, and as in most countries nowadays that fills people with pure terror. My guide told me that they had their own Trump, and the bookseller/festival organizer added gloomily: “Only worse.”
And I think he’s right. Jair Bolsanora has been called “the most misogynistic, hateful elected official in the democratic world and possibly the most repulsive politican on earth”, admires Pinochet, defended the use of torture, eagerly advocated for dictatorship and said so many hateful things about women and LGBTQ-people that he is actually facing charges for inciting hate speech. His followers don’t mind. They call him “The Legend.”
But as always, there is also resistance. Millions women in Brazil has come together on social media under the hastag: #EleNao, or: #NotHim.
And this weekend, Santos is celebrating its very first Pride.