Santo Brazil and Pele – in photos and words

Santo Brazil – in photos and words


There was another day sailing north further up the coast of Brazil towards its largest port – the fabled Santos. Santos was famous for two things – coffee and Pele.

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Unfortunately El Nino was exerting its power and unsettling the weather. We had been plagued with unseasonal rain on this trip and Santos was no exception. We headed up the inlet towards the port to find the hills around shrouded with low-lying clouds and the stilted shanty towns along the edges of the inlet all enveloped in mist.

In a coach with windows festooned with droplets we set off to the football ground that made Pele such an international star. On the way we passed by the picturesque bays with islands and sailing boats, long tree-lined promenades and parks. You could see that with the sun shining it would have been beautiful. Even today, in the rain, there was beauty.


Personally I was not enamoured by the shopping centres with their promise of cheap merchandise due to the weakness of the Brazilian currency but I was taken with the leaning apartment blocks. Some architect had miscalculated the ground stability and need for deeper piles. The foundations were not sufficient. In a few decades they’d start falling over. It looked to me that there was a disaster waiting to happen.

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At the stadium we looked at the statues, plaques, art, cups and photographic homage to the great Pele. We went out to see the pitch and I marvelled at how small the stadium was. I had imagined a great stage for such a football genius to display his wares. This place was very modest.


Then it was off to the famous coffee house. Back in the day Brazil had been the centre of the world’s coffee supply. In 1922 the Coffee Exchange was built to facilitate this market. The building looks much older with its unique architecture, brilliant stained glass roof and paintings depicting scenes from the very early days of Santos. These days it is a museum and well worth a visit. I thought the architecture was great. It looked brilliant.



We walked back to the railway stage and boarded one of the newly renovated trams to take us round the old town nice and dry. My mistake was sitting on the outside so that I could take some photographs. Half of me was soaked through. But the ride was interesting. My tram was named Pele.


The old town was old. It was a mass of decaying colonial buildings. It seemed to me that the Brazilians did not value their old buildings. Everything was rotting and falling down. Perhaps there was a psychological factor at work here? They secretly wanted rid of all the vestiges of colonial control.

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Back on the ship we headed off back out of the inlet passing the masses of wooden shanties housing the poor and looking far prettier, on their stilts, than they really were. Alongside them was a marina for millionaires’ yachts and huge expensive apartment blocks. That seemed to summarise Brazil – a land of extremes of ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ which was responsible for the crime and violence.

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I was reminded of that Bob Dylan sentiment about when you’ve got nothing, you’ve got nothing to lose.

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The light was fading as we pulled out. I didn’t think I’d caught the best of Santos. But as we sailed out between the bays and hills and passed the ships moored outside the inlet I was taken with the brilliance of light as it brought everywhere to life. It was magical.


6 thoughts on “Santo Brazil and Pele – in photos and words

  1. I think that nothing to lose sentiment originated a far cry earlier than Bob Dylan.
    You’re sounding like John Lennon when he said “before Elvis there was nothing”. He was wrong too.

    1. Peter – I think the people in those favelas certainly had nothing to lose. I’m sure it did originate earlier – so what? It was Dylan I was quoting.

      1. I know that, obviously I know that and also know it’s not Dylan’s quote. That was all.
        I wasn’t talking about the favelas. I’ve seen a great deal worse in Africa. At least these as pictured are off the water. In Africa they are ankle deep in their own excrement.

      2. Peter – is anything new or original? Or are all thoughts recycled?
        Yes I too have seen worse in India and Africa. They are usually alongside wealthy palaces. In Rio there were whole spreads of multimillion luxury apartment blocks along the beaches.

      3. Yes, of course there is new and original. How odd to question otherwise.
        No, all thoughts are not recycled otherwise we’d never have developed plastics and more recently the substance that’s just about to gives us all a whole new way of life, Graphene. The potentials are unbelievable.
        Are you familiar with technology? From that bounces off a whole new world of expression and concepts. It is ever evolving and developing. It develops on a daily basis within a variety of scientific fields, Quantum Physics being one of them.
        Today’s leading speakers and spokespersons on many important social subjects are frequently creating new terminology and explanatory phraseology. People such as Niall Ferguson, Yanis Varoufakis, Prof. Jordan Peterson, Stefan Molyneux, Paul Weston, Milo Yiannopoulos, Lauren Southern, Ben Shapiro, for example. Of course it takes a particular skill set to be able to do such a thing.

        My original point was simply that I can’t see how you can’t see that by attributing that sentiment to what was a 23 years old pop star wasn’t appropriate. That was basically my point, but you didn’t seem to get it. Why make any mention of Bob Dylan? He had nothing to do with it except learn of it exactly like you did. Why not just use the phrase? Or are you one of these people who believes that every word Bod Dylan uttered was original? Such as “you can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.” I’ve heard people make claim that he had written that phrase. It doesn’t surprise me at all considering there’s 1,800 books on Dylan out there and if readers who read that stuff keep reading that same quote, they’ll come away with that in mind. That’s probably your subconscious reason as well.

        Of course all slum housing is in or near vicinity of the wealthy as these are the people who do all the manual labour. It’s the same the world over.
        Rio is only one of hundreds if not thousands of world cities with such an instance.
        Besides, Rio’s beach front, the Copacabana is probably the most famous beach in the world, at least for fun stuff, that and Sydney’s Bondi. More serious thinkers would probably consider Normandy, Omaha and Juno Beaches as of far more recognisable importance.

      4. Peter – it seems to me that totally original thought is rare. People tend to build and elaborate on what has gone before.
        As for Dylan – much of what he did was highly creative and original. But obviously he also borrowed and adapted things from around. Who doesn’t? I made a quote from Bob Dylan. Whether he gleaned it from elsewhere is totally irrelevant isn’t it?

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