On Saturday morning, Tom and I made the dreadful mistake of both reading the news first thing, and falling into a morass of negativity. Not the way to begin our weekend. So, we retreated to bed for an hour, and then restarted the day. Declaring it time to get the heck out of Dodge, we packed up the dogs and an overnight bag and headed for the coast.

Once we reached the edge of Sao Paulo, the beauty of Brazil surrounded us as we approached a lake area before descending to the coast, 2,600 ft. below.

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We drove through several long tunnels, which disguise how rapidly we dropped in altitude, until suddenly we were on the coastal plane, among the jungle vegetation and banana vendors waiting patiently in the sticky heat.

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The first beach town you hit off the Immigrantes (pronounced Immagranchees) road is Santos, the major port of Brazil and, thus, unappealing for a day trip to the shore. A little further north is Guarujá, also a big city. We opted to head further north toward Bertioga and Sao Sebastian.

Bertioga is famous for being the place where Dr. Josef Mengele, the Angel of Death of Auschwitz, drowned while swimming; he’s buried in Embu des Artes under the name Wolfgang Gerhard. It’s an hour and a half from the edge of Sao Paulo (with normal traffic), but is a world away, with broad white-sand beaches, caressing ocean breezes, islands in the distance, and swaying palm trees. Glorious. During the summer, it’s jam-packed with beachgoers, but on this Fall weekend, it was pretty quiet. Perfect for us.

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We quickly found a place to park, freed the hounds from the car, and set out walking along the newly finished boardwalk, with its beach cafes in the sand. The breeze was fresh and the beach was populated but not crowded: just what the doctor ordered.

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We let the dogs gambol in the sand and at the edge of the water, not knowing at the time that they were allowed on the beach. Had I know that then, I would have released Cricket to dash into the water as she so desperately wanted to do. Next time, Crick, I promise.

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We walked on the beach and then found shade under a palm tree where we could perch on a makeshift bench. I sat staring at the water, breathing deeply and enjoying the moisture of the sea air. Sydney stretched out and relaxed, enjoying the respite from city life.

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But Tom sat like a meerkat, watching everyone around us, his city hackles still raised. After an hour, he finally relaxed.

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For lunch, we sat at a “beach cafe” to enjoy an ice-cold beer and a carne pastisse (sort of a closed taco with about a teaspoon of hamburger meat in it). Fine dining it ain’t, but the beer was cold and the view was perfect!

My favorite birds made an appearance, the frigate bird, which I shall be in my next life (God willing and the creek don’t rise).

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The funny thing we’ve noticed in Brazil is how people tend to stand at the beach. Sure, they sit or lie in the sand, but many times you’ll find them simply standing. I don’t know if it’s meant for getting an even tan without fold-lines, but it’s pretty funny. Brazilian meerkating.

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After lunch, we drove north, to the end of the small island we had somehow driven onto (I still haven’t figured that out). Found a great little beach cove hidden away, a place we’ll have to visit next time. Very South Pacific.

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After Bertioga, we continued north toward the Riviera area of Bertioga, where we saw houses such as you’d see in Southern California, and some gorgeous high-rise condo buildings within the Riviera, where we plan to rent when our next visitors come.

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There is apparently a renowned golf course at the Riviera, but after receiving a brochure welcoming us to the Riviera that featured a warning about Dengue fever and mosquitos, I’m certainly not inclined to golf in the coastal jungle! But the coastline at the Riviera is spectacular; I can’t wait to get back and enjoy the sand, surf, and sea breeze.

After a great day sightseeing, we  didn’t feel the need to linger, so we headed back to Sao Paulo late in the afternoon, stopping at Ibueripuera Park on the way home at sunset to let the dogs run with their canine pals.

It was a great, and much-needed, getaway day.