I can’t imagine many travellers make it to Taubaté. Why would they? It’s a pretty ordinary place, no real tourist infrastructure in place. It is, however, the city of Children’s Literature, thanks to the writer Monteiro Lobato, and home to the Universidade de Taubaté, and a major industrial centre thanks to its location between São Paulo (123km) and Rio de Janeiro (280km).
The only real reason I was in Taubaté was to spend a week with a friend from my university days. Another travelling companion joined me. He probably questioned why the hell he was in in this random little Brazilian city but humoured me nonetheless.
I wandered into the park and around the outside of the Catedral de Taubaté. I attempted to work out on the outdoor gym equipment before heading into the small city centre where I checked out the market, which had the colour and chaos and coconut drinks that I’ve come to expect of South American cities.
I sat and ate ice-cream in the main plaza, watched teenagers queue for candy floss, and saw a tramp place an empty cardboard box on his head whilst small groups of older men gathered and chatted and watched the world go by.
I went bowling, I sampled a self-service restaurant where cost is based on weight, I went out and drank capirinhas and tried chicken hearts on skewers, and I watched locals salsa and spin into the early hours.
But mostly I just hung out with my friends. Familiarity in a foreign place felt good.
Would I go back? No real need, no real desire. Nothing wrong with the place, just, well, it’s a place for everyday people going about their everyday lives. And that’s about it.