It already seems like New Year’s Eve happened a lifetime ago! Sunshine, sweaty hikes… the warm ocean is a shade of blue somewhere between cobalt and cerulean… Trindade and the beaches stretched over that piece of coast are some of the most beautiful places I’ve seen. It actually reminded me of Jamaica! Well, at least I can relive it now, while I’m writing 🙂
We decided that Christmas in São Paulo with friends was a great idea, after which we sorely wanted to get out of the city for a while. Not only Trindade, but the camping there also came highly recommended, so… why the hell not? It’s pretty easy getting there, it just takes some time. The bus from the Portuguesa-Tiete station costs around R$60 one-way and the trip is supposed to take 5 – 6 hours. However, traveling during peak time on coastal roads is bound to set you back a couple of hours, more so on the return trip. Going there took us about 7 and half hours, but back… oh boy, 16 looong hours on a marginally comfortable bus. Luckily we packed enough snacks, food and water and we had our books, of course. 🙂 Anyway, the intercity bus only takes you to Paraty, from where you get the local city bus the rest of the way (another hour) to the little hamlet of Trindade.
The city is just on the Rio side of the state line (2km from SP) and kind of cut off from the bigger cities in that area – Paraty is kinda close, but the bus takes a meandering mountain route to cross the wide peninsula – so it feels like it’s way more isolated and peaceful! It’s green all around and where it’s not green, it’s ocean. 🙂 The perfect place to relax for a couple of days. I thought it was going to be way more crowded than it actually was. Sure, at first glance it’s obvious that the town is a total tourist destination, because there is one supermarket, one big bakery and hundreds of inns, camping places and restaurants. No atm, either. 🙂
So yeah, we’d made our camping reservation a couple of months before (since this is Brazil the reservation was made on whatsapp of course) and on the day we arrived at a very well-organized camping and BnB place called Guaiamum – two big open spaces for tents, with bathrooms, showers and a spacious open Robinson Crusoe style kitchen. The best thing is that it is super close to the first of three beaches. Looovely 🙂 We got there quite late, so we didn’t shake off our clothes and go jump in the waves, but we did go out to walk on the beach, breathe the salty air and feel soft sand between our toes. When we asked about beach access at the campsite the host gave us some interesting info – she pointed one way (Praia do Meio & Praia Cachadaço) and said that is where the swim beaches are that people usually go to during the day – then pointed in the opposite direction (Praia do Cepilho & Praia dos Ranchos) and said that is the night-time beach where people head to the “baladas” (nightclubs) til the wee hours of the morning. Ok… sounded interesting; turns out it’s a couple of bars on the beach that play club “n’ts-n’ts” music with LED lights going crazy. Of course this is where the New Year’s festivities were played out as well. This was decidedly not a place that one would want to swim, though. Despite the beautiful sight and breathtaking environment and in contrast to the other beaches, which are really clean and groomed… here it was a different ball game. As in the city people smoke and just chuck their cigarette butts frikkin anywhere and everywhere and sadly beer cans, liquor bottles, and trash go the same way 😦
Despite the cleanliness of the party beach… for two days we had warm, welcoming sunshine, slathering of sunscreen and dips into the warm south Atlantic on the neighboring beaches esp. Praia Cachadaço which is what they usually put on the postcards. Basically it was paradise for two days 🙂 In an effort to fit into the crowd we had gone swimsuit shopping a week or two before our holiday. I think it’s unfair that I wore a very Brazilian bikini, but Kiernan got to stick to swimming trunks. A Brazilian bikini is notoriously tiny, especially the bottoms – we had to find a compromise between the trend of the season and what I felt comfortable in… it was a fine line to walk and definitely another reason to get back to the gym after the indulgences of Thanksgiving, then Christmas and New Year’s quick on its tail. But also, as I expected, once I got there I saw the same style everywhere on all shapes and styles.
Since we’ve been in Brazil for 2 years we didn’t feel an overwhelming temptation to try any restaurants there. So we mainly stuck to simple plates called pratos feitos (made plates) in the luncheonettes, simple breakfasts, and usually made pasta or something simple at the camping area. One night one of the other campers also cracked open and gutted a huge jackfruit to share with everyone which was interesting. It’s a …..pungent fruit, kind of tasted like eating custard and fruit flavored brains, poor guy had trouble sharing much more than 1 courtesy bite. There’s also a chill little bakery/cafe in town which we spent a couple of hours in reading and taking advantage of the AC.
On the second of our magical days of freedom we did the extra 1,5km hike to the Caixadaço natural pool; it’s visible from the main beach, but to get there you can take a little motorized skiff that ferries people every couple of minutes, or you can do the 1,5km hike over a little hilltop. The hike is not super difficult – a couple of ups and downs, but beautiful and odoriferous from all of the surrounding vegetation. You wind up comfortably spaced steps and hillocks through the flora, fauna, vines, and trees while the sound of the ocean tickles your ears just barely hidden by the dense greenery. Of course there are always crusty buttholes in life who decide to take speakers to the jungle playing music that no one would wish on a deaf person. Sometimes in life those people may climb the same trails as you, but luckily we only ran into the one who we were able to escape after a brief 45 minutes. The hill trail dropped quickly into the natural pool which was naturally gorgeous, and a little crowded. It’s only 1-3m deep throughout with a couple dozen wide rocks spread throughout perfect for hanging out and climbing, a cool place to visit.
We spent the rest of the afternoon lazing on the beach right on the border of crispy sun and shade, thank goodness there were some trees to provide cover for this delicate ginger. We spread out our sarong/cangas and rotated between dips in the soothing waves, napping, and per usual reading on our kindles. I even joined in helping a young girl try to pick up a crab from behind with 6 other people, the longer it eluded her efforts the funnier it got. After a radiant second day we prepared for the inevitable, beach party. Donning our white garb we joined the rest of the town and tourists on the main beach for festivities. It was a nice crowd, merry faces all over with several beach bars pumping music out. Marelise and I had splurged for some real Brandy which is rare here and enjoyed making brandy & cokes all night as we prepared for the show. Counting down with a couple thousand others in shades of white attire the city put on a pretty magnificent fireworks show. Unfortunately we had to scram to find a bathroom when Marelise became the one in a thousand victim of firework ash, it burned her eye something fierce but luckily nothing permanent and it wasn’t too red in the morning.
Now for the fun part, on day 3 the heavens opened up. Slightly after noon it shifted from a continuous drizzle to a soft pour into the night. Because of the weather of the 50 or so campers some were out, but many were in the common area and kitchen hanging out, drinking, and chatting with their respective groups. As we mentioned before there was the upper camping area/parking lot, and the bottom area behind the kitchen which had a slight dip and apparently was near a stream behind its fences. As the deluge intensified we hung in the hammocks and I(Hogan) was starting to get worried. There were pools growing slowly in both campsites and some trickle-down coming under the fence. I’ve never been camping in a flash flood before so in retrospect I had all the signs and should have acted earlier but I was hesitant to unpeg/empty/break-down/and search for a new spot in the rain.
Checking every ten minutes or so right before midnight I dashed out in the rain again to see a 10cm muddy stream running under our tent and about half of the camping area under water. That was it! Common sense kicked in and I ran back to the main area screaming at Marelise (who loves the rain as much as any cat) to come lend a hand and help move the tent. Apparently me screaming must have pushed the other campers into action who came out back to see half of their tents flooded and some floating away. Marelise and I were now about in 1 foot of water and with some help picked up out tent with everything in it and managed to carry in about 15 meters away to the upper campsite to an unflooded area. We set up only the corners to prevent rain seeping inside and I dashed back to help. Over the next 20 minutes we managed to move about 10-15 tents, salvage gear from another 5, and even awaken one drunkard who was literally floating away on an inflatable mattress. It was chaos, 2 feet of water everywhere, sandals and tent pieces floating everywhere and people panicking, all whilst 1/2 the camping area was turning into a dangerously moving muddy river. I joined the last couple desperate souls in waist-high water dragging waterlogged tents to higher ground. The next couple of hours was a mash of campers bemoaning what they lost, and trying to work out with the owners where they could sleep and where to set up tents in the main camping area. Luckily we had sprung for a heavy-duty tent by Big Agnes, despite a pole broken picking it up and a couple of tears, everything inside was magically dry and ok. The rest of our companions not so much, many spent the night sharing hammocks and inflatable mattresses, and took off the next day many missing phones, wallets, dry clothing and belongings.
The rest isn’t that interesting. The last 2 days in Trindade it was continuously raining so we skipped the beach and spent our time hammocking and reading and enjoying the fresh air and quiet – one of the few things money can’t buy in São Paulo. The last morning luckily was just drizzling so we packed up around 6am, and headed to the small bus stop. We went extra early because every other morning we noticed a line of 20-60 people at the one bus stop and didn’t want to make that mistake. So we waited 20 minutes watching a tiny beach bar ten feet away with a group of 10 or so seriously drunk people dancing with unfocused eyes to heart attack inducing drum and bass music. As Marelise already mentioned although we made it back to Paraty sem problemas, the ride back to São Paulo seriously took 16 hours instead of 6. We arrived back around 4am instead of 4pm, with sore bums, cramped legs, and a feeling of having survived a beautiful yet dangerous beach experience. There was no doubt that the hardest part of the beginning of 2016 was already behind us.
*Disclaimer: we neglected to take pictures while the weather was optimal… so the pictures in the post aren’t ours, they are there just to show the beach we visited. In the description of the pictures we attributed to the original author.