Very poisonous snakes at the Butantan snake pit.
Yes, that´s right, today was spent looking at serpents at the Instituto Butantan! The Institute has been producing antivenes and vaccines since the early 1900s and can now be visited by tourists. It was founded in 1901 by Vital Brazil and now consists of lots of nice old buildings, plus a few modern, uninteresting ones! But there are also museums of various sorts, and a good few hours can be spent here. We started by checking out the Serpentarium, a big pit full of various poisonous snakes lounging about. Visitors used to be able to see venom-milking demonstrations here, but these no longer take place as they are considered detrimental to the snakes´health (not to mention the handlers!)-- in the past, 50000 snakes were held here, the biggest collection in the world.
HOuses for very poisonous snakes in the Butantan snake pit!
The snakes have little bee-hive type houses to snooze in or on, and seem to be enjoying their very sedentary lifestyle.
Next stop was the Microbiology Museum, which gave an excellent overview of viruses and bacterias and their effects on humans, along with the development of vaccines and antibiotics. There were microscopes to look through and various activities for children - really well done and very educational for both children and adults. Just down the road was the Biology Museum, with a collection of live snakes, spiders, fish, frogs, scorpions and poisonous caterpillars. If it can kill you, they´ve got it here, so nice to see these creatures BEHIND glass instead of inadvertently under your foot and attached to your ankle! The History Museum is in the old stables and shows some of the equipment that used to be used by the Institute - some is quite ancient, but was being used up until the late 1980s.
The Microbiology Museum, Butantan Institute.
This centre is still a major producer of vaccines and antivenenes, but the equipment is much more modern now. There is also a 24hour hospital on site for treating victims of snake bites and other venomous animals and is considered one of the world´s leading treatment centres, although the hospital is just a small, rectangular shed. The road back towards the entrance has a ´street museum´with placards explaining about the Institute and its history. Once again, most of the information here is also in English, so quite informative.
From here, we caught a bus back to Trianon Park to wander through the craft and food market, and check out the antiques market across the road under the MASP (Museum of Art, Sao Paulo) in Av.
Replica of a medieval doctor´s outfit - the beak contained herbs and was to protect the doctor from bad vapours, and the stick meant they didn´t have to touch the patients! Some doctors today would no doubt prefer a return to the old ways!
Paulista, just a couple of hundred metres from our hotel. The shopping centre near the hotel also had a big market inside, so we checked that out and got a coffee at Starbucks. Not sure how, but we became honorary members of the Starbucks Coffee Club and got a demo of plunger-coffee-making with free samples of coffee and cake - very pleasant! Thanks, Starbucks! After a short rest, we walked down to the Ibirapuera Park to see the famous singing and dancing fountain - it is all lit up at night, and the water spouts in time with a music soundtrack and light show - quite impressive, although don´t really need to sit through the whole one hour show. Had dinner at a nice cafe on Av. Paulista.