Tag Archives: Taubaté

Brazil celebrates: an International Women’s Day present

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International Women's Day, present from hotel

Brazil, with its first female president, seemed like a good place to be based for International Women’s Day in March 2012.

If I’m honest, as with so many celebrations and important days when you’re travelling, I really had no idea that anything special was meant to be happening.

But I arrived back into my hotel room after a busy day sightseeing in Taubaté (yes, the hard life of a traveller) and there, on the coffee table, was a big, balloon modelled flower along with a little note.

A nice and colourful surprise that got me thinking about the many strong and influential women out there doing all sorts of things to ensure a better, safer and more equal future for us all.

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There’s nowhere quite like Taubate. Well, maybe that’s pushing the truth.

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What views (well, at least they're views)

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.

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Catedral de Taubate

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Outdoor gym. Too hot at midday. Nearly fainted.

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Taubate shopping

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.

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Escape to beach time in Ubatuba

Sandy beaches against a thick, deep green backdrop. I had been told that Brazilian beaches were undeniably beautiful. Time to find out.

I was staying with a friend in Taubaté, 96k inland from Ubatuba. The Masters in Management has served him well, landing him a relocation to Brazil where he is still trying to get a feel for the language and surroundings. One place he had explored and insisted on taking me to was Ubatuba and its complex of 92 unspoilt beaches, each with a flavour of its own.

The 1 ½ hour drive took us past smooth, rolling hills covered in thick quilts of lush vegetation and swaying seas of skinny, bubble-topped paper trees. Chunks of hillside revealed rich, red earth and purple plant explosions sat snug in amongst the vast greenery.

The road started to wind down as we approached the town, tight turns, hard on the brakes. At regular intervals, people stood by their vehicles, bonnet open, car cooling.

The last two times I visited, its rained’, said my friend Glyn as we drove the somewhat rough and confusing streets of Ubatuba. Diversions sent us in circles through a colourful maze of cute buildings, and the occasional painted mannequin stared down at us from a balcony.

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Statue/mannequin/model/whatever... on balcony in Ubatuba

We dodged the numerous cyclists out and about, were careful to give space to the man loaded down with at least eight bin bags of rubbish hanging off of his bike. The fact you could actually see the guy was unusual, apparently, as garbage collection on bike is to be expected.

Despite being a pretty place bursting with fully saturated colour, the beach in the town itself was a narrow, steep strip of sand leading down to a dumping wave whose ferocity didn’t invite a swimming crowd. So we moved on.

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Beach in Ubatuba

A few kilometres down the road, Praia Grande not only had a shallower pitch but a far bigger stretch of actual beach along which people power walked, couples strolled hand in hand and kids learnt to surf. A lifeguard perched up in a stilted hut, keeping an eye on us as we played silly wave kicking and sand throwing games to keep ourselves entertained.

Swimming, splashing about and mermaiding on the rocks, this was a relaxed, lazy and playful day on a spacious, empty beach. Can’t complain. It felt like being on holiday. It’s understandable why Ubatuba is such a popular weekend escape for the people of Sao Paulo.

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Praia Grande, Ubatuba

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Praia Grande, Ubatuba

Drawn in by rhythmic music, we finished the day trip with a drink and generously portioned pastel in Quicsque Recardo Sole Mar, one of a few cafés sitting on the actual beach.

And then back up the windy road, this time into a load of mistiness that got thicker and thicker as we climbed into the clouds until we pushed right through and arrived back to a clearer sky and a striking setting sun.

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Leaving Ubatuba

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