I know, I know. “Zoë, you’ve been in Brazil for three months and you haven’t gone to the beach?!!” Trust me, I know. Timing and weather haven’t exactly been permitting until recently, due to a fairly busy schedule of moving houses, university, and some general laziness on my part.

This past week was a university holiday, because of children’s day. Basically, it’s a holiday dedicated to children, in the same vein as mother’s day or father’s day. Gifts, some time off work/school, and for me and my housemates, a massive beach trip.

Planning our beach trip and actually executing it were two very different things; we mapped our route to the bus station, knew the prices and the basic times, but when the four of us (me, and three students from Leeds in the U.K) set out early Friday morning, we weren’t quite prepared for the journey we ended up on…

…But four hours, one exploded Fanta, and one much needed stop at McDonald’s later, we had made it to Guarujá, a popular São Paulo beach. It was cloudy, but scorching hot and humid, and at 11pm on a Friday, it was absolutely packed with people.

We spent about 5 hours at the beach, alternately sunbathing and splashing in the frigid water. All around us, people bustled selling sunglasses, beers, and strangely enough, dream catchers. I successfully sunburned only about 10% of my very pale skin, instead of the usual 75%. Don’t be fooled by fluffy clouds or overcast days; the sun in Brazil IS much stronger than in the United States. The sand was white and soft and pristine, the water was salty and blue-grey. Maybe now is when I mention that I don’t actually like going to the beach…don’t get me wrong, I love the concept; ocean waves, soft sand, sun and beach games. It sounds amazing, but I can never get over the fact that I hate the feeling on sand and salt on my skin, the ocean tastes terrible and burns my eyes, I burn so easily, and there are just always so many people! That being said, Guarujá may have changed my mind. Maybe it was the fact that I was tired and somewhat resigned to my sandy fate; maybe it’s just something about Brazil. But I’ve never enjoyed a beach as much as I enjoyed that beach. This coming weekend, we’re having a birthday party for one of my housemates at another, slightly more ‘upscale’ beach. We’ll see how I fare with that one!

Heading back into the little beach boardwalk, we ducked into a Pão de Açúcar, which is like Brazilian Whole Foods/Trader Joe’s. I stocked up on celiac friendly foods, then we headed back to the bus station.

The trip back was slightly less comfortable than the trip there; salty, dried clothes and sandy shoes are not exactly what you want to be wearing on a nearly three hour bus ride. But we fell asleep to the pattering sounds of rain against the roof, and woke up at the metro station, just in time to catch the last train home.