two days in ubatuba.

back on a bus. ubatuba to rio de janeiro this time. it is windy through the hills, and i think my ability to stare at my computer in vehicles without getting queasy is starting to wear off as i get older. but, i’ll push through…

we arrived in ubatuba after a “three hour” bus ride (which actually took five) from sao paulo. two nights in an airbnb by praia grande, the most popular beach on a long stretch of beautiful coastline.

our airbnb host had been very helpful (and slightly overboard) leading up to our arrival, providing endless details, travel advice, and constant communication. however, due to that, we were able to jump off the bus at the exact right stop and walk 50 yards to her home.

the apartment was straight out of the 50s and definitely could have been lived in by the same woman since way back then. it had that old smell and questionable charm. the gas stove had some dodgy piping, but the view was unbeatable for $50/night. beach in front, jungle in back.

after dropping our suitcases off in our temporary home, we quickly changed into our swimsuits and settled into some serious relaxation. and by that, i of course mean burgers and beers by the beach. now, we might have preferred something else to eat, but it was pretty easy to pick those two items on the portuguese menu and since we were starving from our delayed bus ride, we went with easy.

praia grande was crowded. it was the weekend, but it also turns out that i accidentally picked the high season to visit. lots of local tourists flock to ubatuba in decemeber and january, when the temperatures are hot and the rains are rare.

we walked the long white sand beach soaking in the scenery. kids playing soccer and volleyball. groups of friends drinking too much and causing a commotion. couples holding hands and kissing in the waves. vendors selling drinks and snacks and ice cream and clothes.

as the sun started to set, we wandered back across the street to our apartment, where ryan proceeded to immediately fall asleep. a few beers and a little sunshine always manage to steal your energy. i thought he’d wake up in time for dinner again, but he just kept on sleeping. i guess he still needed to catch up on some zzzz…

as he slumbered, i strolled down to the local shop and picked up some pasta for dinner. i ate some food, did some work, and retired early. music blaring over loud speakers occasionally streamed in through our open windows reminding us of the party we were missing outside.

the next morning, i unexpectedly woke up just in time to catch the sun rising over the ocean. day two in ubatuba…

we boarded a city bus into the center of town, about a 20 minute bus ride that costs $1/person. ubatuba proper is a cute, decent sized town. there are plenty of stores and restaurants to explore. lots of places to sample brazil’s delicious “pastel,” a pastry filled with whatever you want basically. 

we walked through town and ended up back on the coast. the beach on the edge of the city center is pretty barren. there are no vendors, no umbrellas, no bikinis. but, there are something like 100 beaches along this stretch of brazil’s coastline, so we continued walking the coast exploring as many beaches as we could. 

after enjoying one other beach, we headed back out to the main highway and called an uber to transport us out to the infamous itamambuca beach, known by many surfers. about seven miles down the road.

itamambuca is beautiful. it reminded me of nosara, costa rica. dirt roads lined with elegant homes and understated beach shacks, all leading to the beach. small snack shops and surf stands ready to help visitors enjoy the ocean to the fullest. 

the ocean meets up with the itamambuca river here. the fresh water combines with the salty sea. it was less chaotic than the other beaches near town. there were still beach bars and vendors, but there were way less people. however, the water was much dirtier. perhaps the river’s fault?

we set up shop at a table on the beach, and with our toes in the hot sand and a “stupidly cold” (brazilian saying) beer in our hand, we watched the waves roll in and out.

unfortunately, the waves were not quite up to my aussie surfer’s standards. although the beach is known to have some good breaks, the waves were not cooperating for us this trip. but that’s how it goes when you only have a day or two. not enough time to patiently await the swell. oh well. we’ll have plenty of time to surf in australia next month. 

after we were sufficiently sunned, we shuffled back to the main highway on the dirt roads surrounded by jungle greenery. the bus took an hour to come by. but we waited. because we had nowhere else to be. nothing else to do. no plans. 

when the bus pulled back through the city center, we jumped off and walked the opposite direction along the coast. back towards praia grande via itagua, a hip little neighborhood full of restaurants and bars. 

and then we saw this…

yes, that is someone bungee jumping from a crane. and hang gliding from a crane. and free falling into a net from a crane. 

this was just randomly set up on the side of the street. there was not a fair or anything else going on around it. just long lines to defy death one more day. only in brazil i suppose? we were totally game to try one of them, but our desire not to wait in line won instead.

for dinner, we found a cute little health food restaurant, banana brazil. a welcomed break from the fried pastries and cheese filled everything that we’d been snacking on. so far, beyond the meat, brazil has not necessarily offered us any oh-my-gosh-that-was-fucking-delicious moments.

i remember experiencing this when i lived in argentina. sure, you can find a great meal here and there, but in general, the palette is a bit bland for my tastebuds (surprising i know, with all the white foods i tend to eat). it just doesn’t excite my tongue like japanese or italian or thai or indian or mexican… to each their own though. 

and then, you’ll never guess what we did… we went to sleep. clearly, we both really needed some vacation time…

and today, we travel. 

7am wake up and pack up
8am city bus to the major ubatuba bus terminal
8:30am walk a couple blocks with luggage because we got off a stop early
8:45am make ryan go get cash from an atm to buy bus tickets (sao paulo only took cash)
8:58am hope the bus we want is not sold out
9am ticket office opens, and it turns out they take credit (oops…)
9:30am drink coffee and eat deep fried something
11am bus scheduled to depart for rio de janeiro
11:45am extreme bus stop boredom sets in
12:15pm bus actually departs for rio de janeiro
5pm now, still on the road to rio 

here’s to our final two days in brazil!

p.s. sorry this post is boring. we needed a few days of boring.

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