Brett, Clayton, and I rented a car from Congonhas Airport in São Paulo, and we decided to drive to Rio De Janeiro.
Now if there’s anything you need to know about Paulistano traffic: it sucks. The highways are generally congested, and packs of motorcycles drive between lanes of sluggish cars; you have to be constantly vigilant when switching lanes, otherwise you’re bound to strike a motorcyclist. After dodging motorcycles and lagging behind cars, we got out of the city in hour.
The three of us decided to take the scenic route, which is roughly an 8-hour straight drive to Rio. We drove across the poor Favelas on the outskirts of São Paulo and through the sharp, winding curves of Brazilian mountains and rainforests. We paused at a colorful village with a sky blue cathedral on the top of hill for a bathroom break, and a fish-and-chip shop along the coast of the Atlantic for lunch.
After 4 hours of driving, we decided to stop at Trindade, a small beach village halfway between São Paulo and Rio. It was a destination that Brett and his ex-girlfriend had stayed at during one of his previous trips, and although he had spent two weeks there, the three of us decided to just stay for at least two days. The town was definitely a surfing and vacation spot with a sort of Southern Californian vibe, and it had packs of stray (but neutered and spayed) dogs roaming the quiet cobblestone streets. At night, after enjoying a few ice-cold Brahma beers, I’d play with these dogs and feed them scraps. Clayton and I even named a few of them, as they casually walked by or laid down by us, begging for attention and food.
We stayed at a tiny pousado (a home converted to a motel) just about half a mile from the beach and a mile or two from Trindade’s renowned waterfalls and natural pools. The lady who ran it and lived on the premises was a former Rio resident, a single mother with her teenage daughter. The host wanted to move to the US — but of all places, Boston. One night, I saw her sitting at the check-in counter, practicing her English. When I inquired where it was okay to smoke, she asked what’s the English word for “lighter”. As I smoked a cigarette outside, I could hear her at the front desk, speaking to her computer, “Do you need a lighter? Do you need a lighter?”
On our first full day in Trindade, the three of decided to hike through two small mountains to Piscina Natural, the natural pool located at Praia do Cachadaço. It was sunny, hot, and my climbing skills are so inferior that I’d sweat like a motherfucker if I climbed even a foot. Naturally, I was looking forward to taking a dip in the still waters of Piscina Natural. We reached the natural pool after nearly an hour of hiking and walking, but it was worth it: the pool’s clear water was surrounded by huge rocks, preventing the rough waves from disturbing the water. Tiny fish greeted visitors and swam up to their hands, expecting to be fed. The water certainly wasn’t deep, as I could waddle my way from the shallow end of the pool to the neck-deep end of the rock perimeter.
After taking a boat back to the main area (fuck climbing again), we spent the rest of the daylight hours laying on the beach and drinking beers. I managed to get caught up on some reading, squeeze in a nap, and take some photos and video footage. After hiking up another mountain to return to our po0sado, the sun began to set. Trindade’s a very sleepy town and everything seemed to shut down around 9pm. Still, I was able to get some good Picanha for dinner and drink some pretty boozy Caipirinhas.
We checked out of our pousado early the next day and resumed our road trip to Rio. Brett wanted us to stop by Paraty, a small town which has the charm and architecture of old world Brazil. I picked up some souvenirs, drank a Coca-Cola (I haven’t had soda in such a long time, but being in Brazil it seemed appropriate to drink), and had chicken, rice, and beans for lunch.
I ended up taking a nap in the car, and before I knew it, I was in Rio De Janeiro — a stark contrast from Sao Paulo in regards to the general atmosphere. More on that later…