A friend and I decided to start our year in Brazil with a week at the beach to get rid of our gringo-pasty skin. Out of all the amazing beaches that exist in Brazil, we chose Itanhaem, Sao Paulo, a place not even Paulistas have ever heard of. We chose it because of its proximity to both Curitiba, where my friend was going to be, and Sao Paulo city, where I was flying into.
After a direct 11-hour flight from Chicago to Sao Paulo, I took a bus to Barra Funda bus station, then another 4-hour bus to Itanhaem, where I met up with my friend and took a last bus to the beach house we rented for the week.
Every morning I tiptoed over broken pottery to the beach 20 feet out my front door. The beach was surprisingly empty for the middle of Carnaval. People dug voodoo holes in the sand at night. The weather was in the mid-80s and the water was warm. I was scared of sharks, so I drank cachaca before getting in. It rained every afternoon like clockwork. We hung a hammock on the upstairs patio and I liked to read there, overlooking the ocean. We tracked pounds of sand into the house, washed our clothes by hand for the first time ever (harder than you think), and made strong Brazilian coffee daily with this old-school contraption they have here.
There were so many fat people on the beach wearing speedos and thong bikinis and owning it. I bought thong bikini bottoms, felt naked and then sexy, and ultimately burned my ass to a crisp. I bought green corn and coconuts and espanholas from beach vendors, spilled the sugariness all over myself, and got bitten by bugs. I slept with the windows and doors open so I could hear the ocean as I fell asleep. I had no internet and no phone for the first time in my adult life. I used a lanhouse (internet cafe) for the first time. I drank shitty beer at lanchonetes and bummed cigarettes off locals. I woke up every day at noon and did it all over again. I started to feel like I was in some kind of weird time warp, like in Groundhog Day.
By the end of our time there, we had thoroughly enjoyed our week and were more than ready to move on to our next destination: Sao Paulo.