São José dos Campos is a quiet city, with a lot of aeronautical engineering, and the home of one of James’ Red Hat work-mates William
We arrived at the bus terminal in São Jose dos Campos after an hour and a half bus trip where William, Luana and Antonio were waiting. We knew we needed to get bus tickets to Paraty for a few days time, so William helped us buy them which was much easier than stumbling through Portuguese. After a quick taxi trip to the hotel, we went to get some lunch. There was a big buffet, and after filling up James’ plate he realised there was barbecued meats too, so he grabbed some of that. When Dee and Luana went up to get theirs, there were none left – this was a sad time for Dee. You pay per kilo on your plate, so it was cheap!
While we were eating we heard a massive crack of thunder and then it bucketed with rain, we were only a block or so from our hotel but none of us had umbrellas or ponchos (despite having two umbrellas, four ponchos and two raincoats in our packs). After it was obvious the rain wasn’t going to stop long enough for us to wander through the park nearby, William and Luana went home and we planned to meet them later. We went out for a walk once the rain had eased a bit and got a few drinks – the happy hour at the pizza place had two beers for R$6. We got hungry a bit later, so grabbed some Esfhinas as a little beer snack. They’re like mini pizzas with usually only one or two toppings, and sometimes cheese (or this weird cream cheese call catupiry on them). By the time we were ready to meet up for dinner after all the rain, both of us were getting weary, we decided to meet up with William the following day and grabbed a full pizza from the place we were already at; we underestimated the size to price ratio here – it was huge! Half Brasiero and half Portuguesa, so really a mixture of catupiry, meats, onion, olives, egg and cheese.
Thursday we went for a walk in the morning, trying to find a supermarket. After seeing around 30 pharmacies (including at least four side-by-side), we eventually found a supermarket and grabbed a few snacks. We met up with the guys at Santos Dumont Park, which was named after the early Brazilian plane designer. The park has two public schools in the middle of it as well as a Japanese garden. There were also two different styles of planes in the park, one more modern than the second: a replica of the original plane design. We then headed to a café close by for lunch of meat (porção of meat – chicken, calabrese and steak) and beers. We were introduced to a famous Brazilian sweet called a Brigadero, a combination of chocolate condensed milk stuff – difficult to explain but just delicious. William and Luana took us to a brigaderia to get a few – they come in many different flavours, chocolate, caçaca, coffee and many, many more. A little sugar overload but definitely worth it.
In the afternoon we walked to the lookout over a valley to see the sunset. Along the way we had a little fun with the exercise equipment placed by the local council to help people get fit. Although it was a little cloudy to see the entire sunset the view from the lookout was very nice. On the way back into town, because we hadn’t had enough beers, we stopped in at a pub. After having a little bit of a food coma happen we needed some rest, and met up for dinner at a pun-named restaurant “File Miau”, there is a joke that the food served is all cat (this is definitely not the case). The food here was just amazing – espetinhos, which are small skewers cooked over charcoal and brought around to your table to offer you. Because they are taken off when they are ready, they are all perfectly cooked, and we had some of the best coraçon de frango (chicken hearts) we have eaten. After a few beers with the food (do you see a pattern here?) we headed home to your hotel with food babies.
On our last morning in the city, we met back up with William and Luana at Santos Dumont park again, to walk to the local markets. There was so much fruit on offer, a whole row of stalls selling different kinds of bananas! They were buying their fruit and vegetables for the week, and we just grabbed a punnet of strawberries as a snack. I still haven’t figured out paying for things in Brazil – it was R$4 for the strawberries, and I gave him 4, but then got 20c change…
After a walk back to the hotel to grab out bags, we caught a taxi to the bus station and headed down to the Costa Verde and Paraty.