Hello one and all. This is Sam taking over the blog duties; I was promised one entry for good behaviour over the course of the trip! If you find this one a bit of a snoozathon, don't worry- Donna will be back for the next one.
So the latest stage of our epic Brazil encounter has seen us having a proper beach holiday! We were driven on Saturday to Juquehy, a beachside community about two and a half hours from the house in São Paulo where we have been staying. The drive saw us head south to the gritty industrial port of Santos, before heading east on a road which saw Brazil throw yet more glorious views at us. This time it was forests, rivers and mountains which stole the show, a beautiful sea of green on either side of the winding road. On occasion the road didn't even bother to circumnavigate the hills and we ploughed into a series of epic 3km-long tunnels.
Eventually we arrived at Juquehy, our base until Friday. Juquehy, and much of the coastline here, is second home heaven for Brazilians- people flock here at the weekends to escape the big cities. On Saturday and Sunday the place was teeming- the lovely beach was packed, the little shopping precinct buzzing and music was drifting from garden parties everywhere. Although the streets are very poorly lit and we were very nervous to walk around at first, we've come to appreciate that this is a very safe area. The tourist trade provides nearly every single job in the town- it's vital to the town's very existence- and so there is no purpose to crime against tourists here it seems.
There are two types of building here- holiday homes and pousadas. Pousada comes from the Portuguese word for 'to land' and is exactly that- a place to land after a day on the beach. Think Brazilian B&Bs. You get a room, bed, shower and breakfast to see you through all the things that can't be done on sand. We've used two pousadas over the course of the week, experiencing both the more straightforward bargain approach and also the upper end of the market- a lucky encounter with an English-speaking proprietor of a new pousada giving us the chance to spend a few nights in his 'deluxe' room, complete with luxuries such as chairs, wardrobe and a bin which were sadly lacking at pousada number one.
After the weekend hubbub, everyone who was here went back to work or school and left the town eerily quiet. We have been able to enjoy the beach each day almost in solitude, save for the odd pigeon, dog and surfer. The sand is glorious and clean, and the sea inviting if a little choppy (hence the surfer). In the evenings it has been rather surreal to eat in empty restaurants- those which are still open that is. A nervy experience at times with our lack of Portuguese and the waiters' lack of English- but an assortment of gesticulating, furrowing in a phrase book and terrible attempts to read Portuguese words with the correct pronunciation has seen us through!
We return back to São Paulo on Friday to take stock before we become proper travellers again with a five-day outing to Rio. No doubt Donna will keep you right up to speed on how that goes!