For many people, Paulistanos included (or maybe especially these), suggesting a walk through the center of São Paulo can seem like an adventure. If the walk is at night, then it would be something for extreme adventurers or the occasional freak. But that is not what Carlos Beutel believes. The owner of the vegetarian restaurant Apfel, located since 1984 on Rua Dom José de Barros, since 2005 has been taking – without charging a penny – groups of people who meet every Thursday to visit the highlights of this region so mistreated by public management.
The Night Walk organized by Beutel is themed and takes groups to historic and emblematic points in the capital of São Paulo. It always counts on the support of specialists and personalities from sectors such as architecture, visual arts, urbanism and history, who help to illustrate the tour of, on average, 3 to 5 kilometers.
So far, in about 900 editions, Beutel estimates that he has accompanied 45,000 to 50,000 people through places that tell much of the city’s lost history. One of his most famous tours, “Hunting the Ghosts of Downtown São Paulo”, which included properties with a reputation for being haunted in the city, came to gather so many people that, contrary to what one might imagine, he decided not to accomplish it.
“To take a group of thousands of people, I would need to ask for security, police and things that I don’t want to ask the government,” he explains. It was also in the name of safety, he adds, that the starting point of the walk, which has always been the Municipal Theater, in Praça Xavier de Toledo, changed its location. It is now the main entrance to the Mário de Andrade Municipal Library, on Xavier de Toledo street, always at 8 pm.
“It’s a brighter and busier point, we think it’s better to start there and also avoid following certain roads for a while while the situation of violence does not improve”, he ponders, criticizing the municipal administrations for not taking care of the city’s patrimony, but guaranteeing to always have “an optimistic bias”.
“We see a lot of people who frequent the centers of cities like Paris and London, but they say they don’t have the courage to walk through the center of São Paulo, which is a beautiful city, very beautiful and full of history, which deserved greater prominence among the large metropolises. in the world”, says Beutel.
In any case, he advises participants to avoid taking valuables and arriving and leaving in groups, avoiding walking alone through the most deserted streets at the end of the event.
‘Bank, yes, period’
The idea of creating an activity that focused precisely on the historic center of São Paulo at night began when the group of people who live or work around Rua Barão de Itapetininga, who met (and still meet) weekly to discuss the problems of region and possible solutions and referrals to administrative bodies, suggested doing something similar to the night tour held in Barcelona, Spain.
The suggestion, he recalls, came from Carmen Gimenez, a resident of the region, and from Nadir Khouri, former owner of the Arroz de Ouro restaurant, a pioneer in macrobiotic food in the city in the 1970s. Beutel immediately adopted the idea, which had its first September 2005 issue.
In the following year, with the increase in demand for the tour, Beutel decided to professionalize the activity, hiring accredited tour guides, who pay out of pocket.
“Yes, I bank, I take what I earn from my restaurants and that’s the end of it, I don’t need anyone”, says this passionate about the city, adding that, if I could, “I would do even more, because São Paulo deserves it”.
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