On Friday morning, we got up to head out to the beach. We headed to a stretch of coastline known as Costa Verde, or Green Coast. This area is located between Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro and is dotted with small cities and fishing villages. To get to the coastline, we had to drive over a mountain ridge covered in lush, green tropical vegetation.
We first hit the coast in the town of Caraguatatuba. From there we followed the coastline north through Ubatuba and eventually to our destination, Trindade. This little town is known as being a hippy beach. The town is very laid back and is filled with lots of young people just hanging out, happy to be at the beach and away from everything else.
We got in town just in time for a quick dinner on the beach and to enjoy the evening’s festivities, the “Miss Trindade” pageant. Eight local girls vied for the fiercely competitive title. Beauty pageants here are much more sensual and sexual than in the US. Before the competition, the judges (male and female) came out scantily clad and walked the runway. I think if something like this was held in the US, the freaky religious types would start beating the bibles to have it shut down.
Saturday was beach day. And, after a week of rain and cold weather, we were all ready to be outdoors. We headed down to the beach mid-morning and staked our claim. The beach was in a protected cove and just a few feet on all sides, the mountains rose up covered in lush, green vegetation. It was easily one of the most stunning beaches I’ve ever been to. We boarded a boat to cross the bay to a private swimming spot surrounded by huge boulders. The water was friggin’ cold. But, as long as we stayed in the direct sun, it wasn’t too bad. I hiked back to the beach along a path in the mountains that skirted the beach. I felt like I was back in the Amazon again – except this time, I wasn’t worried about any strange creepy crawly things making an appearance. We hung out on the beach all afternoon and did a small hike to to see some nearby waterfalls.
On Sunday, we got up and headed further north to the colonial town of Paraty. We headed off to the docks and jumped on a boat for a 5-hour tour, a 5-hour tour. Luckily, the weather didn’t get rough and we enjoyed 4 beaches in perfect sunshine. I just sat stunned by the beauty surrounding us: tons of little lush green islands sitting in beautiful clear blue water. I didn’t want to get off the boat as we docked just before sunset. We stayed in town and walked around. As one of the first Portuguese colonial cities, Paraty has held on to its historical past and preserved it’s beautiful old buildings. There was a festival going on and the town was filled with people and, to my delight, desert carts on every block. We had a nice seafood dinner before heading back to our hotel.
On Monday after breakfast, we headed into town to walk around a little more. We then headed south along the coast towards our next destination, Ilha Bella (Beautiful Island). We drove through Ubatuba and stopped off to see a turtle sanctuary, aquarium and have lunch. We continued on and reached the ferry that crosses over to the island right at dusk. Unfortunately, a strong storm blew in – and was still blowing when we arrived. The ferry couldn’t cross so we stayed on the continental side for the evening in São Sebastão.
We got up in the still morning and crossed over to Ilha Bella. We checked into our hotel and before I knew it, Helo had booked her nephew, Tiago, and I on a 4×4 excursion across the island. While the wind had calmed down, there was still plenty of rain on the mountains that lay in the center of the island and in our path to the beach across the isle. It’s been a long time since I went 4x4ing, probably since I had the Land Rover and lived in Colorado. We made the bumpy, muddy, 1.5 hour trek with 2 couples. We finally arrived to our destination which was, unfortunately, covered in mist and fog. This beach is considered one of Brazil’s top beaches. Give the shear number of stunning beaches here, I think that’s an impressive achievement. And, even in the misty rain, I could see why. We made the trip back after a lunch a walk on the beach. I skipped out on the snorkeling today. I have a strict “No snorkeling in cold, wet rain” policy.
On Tuesday, we had to head back to Piracicaba. But, I’ve sworn to come back to Brazil just for a beach tour. There just isn’t anything like it anywhere else I’ve found. The closest is probably the beaches of Hawaii, especially Kauai.
Upon returning to Piracicaba, I went with some of Helo’s friends to a book signing in Sao Paolo. Then, on Friday night, we went to a fund raiser for a local children’s shelter. The main act was a samba band of some fame within Brazil. But, the opening act was a Brazilian country band. I’m so not a country fan, with a few exceptions. And, hearing it Portuguese didn’t make it any more palatable for me. I didn’t know that the southern US accent could be transported and used in Portuguese songs. And, the people actually knew how to two-step. Wow, the things I am learning about the world…
The samba was great fun. Leigh, a friend of Helo’s, was not shy about getting me on my feet and getting me on the dancefloor. The venue was similar to what I’ve seen back home in the US. The difference was that the crowd transformed from a subdued, but polite set of people to a crazy, lively crowd reliving their samba days singing the songs of the Brazilian Carnaval. The energy in the room was great. Unfortunately, we forgot to snap some photos of us dancing. But, I will survive. As long as I know how to dance, I know I’ll stay alive.
Originally Published July 23, 2007