Friday, January 28th – Monday, January 31, 2005
Simone has some time off, so we decide to head to her parents beach house for a couple of days in the sun. Our first stop is in the town of Ubatuba. It’s about three hours by car away from Sao Paulo. The road to Ubatuba is pretty nice (remember, civilization.) She’s got a Renault Clio, which is small and cute, like most cars in Sao Paulo. The one problem, at least on the highway, is the engine. It’s got a 1 liter engine. Next time you get 2 liter soda bottle, figure the piston is about half that size, and powering an car, two peopel and luggage. My motorcycle, my 600 pound motorcycle, has a 1150 CC engine (aka 1.15 liters.) I was trying to figure out what the smallest engine in a car is that you can buy in America. I can’t think of any, but I do know the old VW’s were 1600 CC. Going up hills is slow and difficult. On the freeway it sounded like a hamster on Coca Tea when I tried to go the official speed limit (120K/HR.) On the flip side, the car is cute and red.
We get to the beach town, and it could be a small beach town in Hawaii, and the beach house is a typical beach house with a Brazilian flair. We unpack the car and go out for something eat. The place Simone picked was open to the air, and pretty basic. The food was OK, but the fish was very , very, very salty. After dinner, we walked down the street for a while, stopping for Ice Cream, and chancing upon a small carnival (not to be confused with Carnaval, the celebration the country shuts down for.) That, my friends, was pretty fun. Seeing a brazilian twist on Carnies was pretty interesting. In Brazilian fashion, the two women Carnies wore very tight jeans and showed much cleavage. We ended up winning a small trinket (OK – she won it.) It was surreal to be at a tossing rings for a prize at a very small carnival on a small beach town in brazil, with a small brazilian girl, and it was a lot of fun, and something I hope I never forget (which is ultimately the purpose of this exercise.)
The house is about a block from the ocean. On Saturday, when we wake up we head to the beach for some sun and some fun. We walked the length of the beach (Maramduba) and it wasn’t much different than beaches in Florida, other than the islands sticking up out of the ocean in the near distance. We passed someone wearing a worn Tellytubby head and what appeared to be a pair of red one piece long johns selling something. It was the most menacing things I’d seen in the country, or South America, and over a week later, it’s still true. I’m glad he didn’t approach me, because I think I would have run away in terror, jeopardizing my “Sexy Foreigner” status. We went down to the far end, away from everyone, and laid out in the sun. It was very nice, and I even have a picture of Simone laying on her stomach, with the beach and the mountains in the background. It was a beautiful picture. However, she has forbade me from putting the picture on the internet, with a promise of harm if I do, in English, followed by a long string of words in Portuguese that I can’t even begin to understand. If I understand the hand motions, she is either going to split a melon in half if I do, or well, something much worse. She is brazilian, which means a small bikini, but she is also modest by brazilian standards, which means a somewhat larger small bikini. I, on the other hand, am wearing a pair of shorts. In this country, where small is better, I might as well be wearing clothes of the Amish.
After a few modest hours in the sun, we head back towards the house. We passed a demonstration of Brazilian Capoeira dancing. It originated in Angola, and was brought over by slaves. In the old country, it was a fight for the hand of just fertile young women. Now, it’s mainly for show, and you aren’t supposed to land blows (or else it wouldn’t be dancing.) It’s pretty interesting, but without blows being landed, or virgins won, it didn’t quite interest me. Instead of watching, we have a small lunch at a beach front cafe overlooking the ocean. We are drinking out of Coconuts, and I have a caipirinha (the national drink of Brazil, and becoming hip in the US), followed by some various seafood dishes. Pretty tasty, and really how life should be lived.
There was another city about an hour away called Parati (sometimes spelled Paratay, and pronounced paratAi. Apparently, in Portuguese, the emphasis is on the second to last syllable. The first or last syllable I can understand, but second to last?) It was supposed to be one of the original towns in Brazil, and quite historic, so we head there. Simone – she’s a good tour guide. When we find the city, we park and start looking for a hotel. Once again, we have someone “offer” to watch our car. Apparently the woman who made the offer was somewhat rude, and somewhat crazy towards Simone after she said no. I guess it’s not a job for the mentally stable. We end up looking around for quite a long time before we find a hotel to stay in – some were cheap but basic, and some where opulent but expensive. Eventually we find a fantastic hotel room in the old part of town (which means walking only – no cars) for more than I wanted to pay, but it wasn’t too much. The two nights were $125, but that included breakfast (with monkeys) and a lovely pool. I upgraded to a suite because it was a LOT larger, and the bed was the size of some hotel rooms. In retrospect, this was a good idea, since Simone wasn’t feeling well much of the time, and spent a lot of time sleeping.
This town was very nice, and since it was a tourist town, was full of middle class people. At one point I looked around, and I counted 10 people with cameras in hand taking pictures, almost all at the same time. There were a lot of restaurants, and a bunch of clothing stores for tourist with “Brasil” written all over them. On Sunday morning, before we go to lay out at the pool, Simone talked me (well, shamed me is more like it) into a more appropriate bathing attire. I never figured myself as a thong speedo wearing kind of guy, but when in Rome, do as the Romans. We got laughed at by a couple of shop girls until I finally got up the gumption to wear such a thing. I think I was the one getting laughed at, but that’s OK. Eventually we head back to the pool, and lay out for a couple of hours, me getting sun where the sun don’t normally shine. Oh – and about that thong speedo, it wasn’t really. But it was small, and it was much different than anything I’ve worn in front of other people before, at least without getting a kiss first. But don’t worry – I like to think I represented America well.
The city was very nice. It was old, and charming, and romantic. We walked around, I took some pictures, we ate a late lunch, and napped through the afternoon. It was very pleasant, and very relaxing, even for a guy that hasn’t worked for a year. We decided to stay for another night. At breakfast (included) there were a couple of little monkeys playing around the buffet. Any time you get to have monkeys around, well, that’s worth something. And these were cute, tiny monkeys – the maybe the size of a small cat, not the dung flinging chimpanzees that are always in the news.
On Monday morning, we eventually need to leave. We get up early, and start heading back. On the way, we take a wrong turn, and end up going into the mountains, on a one lane road. It was pretty crazy, mainly in that her car couldn’t make it up the hills. We came to a dead stop a couple of times in second gear, because there wasn’t enough power. She is not feeling well, and asked me to pull over so she could drop off. I’m driving, trying to figure out exactly what this “drop off” she is wanting to do. Luckily, I figured out quickly that it means she’s going to be sick. Eventually we found the correct road back to the town of Ubatuba, packed the beach house and headed back to the large, large city of Sao Paulo. She ask me to pull over a couple of times before we get to the city, and I’m worried about her, but she managed to sleep most of the journey back. While she’s sleeping, I’m thinking “what are the chances? Nah..” Then in five minutes – “Nah. Impossible” Then “What are the chances? Nah.” It was a much longer ride back. We arrived in the early afternoon, which was much different than driving at 11:30 at night on a Wednesday.
So far, I’ve driven in New York, Mexico City, and Sao Paulo, all during rush hour. Three of the largest cities in the world – I never set out to drive in these cities, but somehow it happened. I wonder if I should make a goal of it – drive in the 10 largest cities in the world. Considering each and every time it sucked, I probably won’t, but it’s good to know that I’m able to. It makes me more manly, and people like that in sexy foreigners.