Monday, November 18, 2013

Everyone line up! We're going to the beach! - São Paulo

Just another holiday weekend. Photo credit:

Three years ago, BH's parents sold their beach house which was in Guaecá (190 kms or 110 miles from São Paulo) on the São Sebastião shoreline. It was a tough decision, but the kids were not much using it, there was a pousada seemingly starting construction next door, and the traffic to get to the beach made it tough to make it doable in a weekend. It only made sense to visit if you were able to stay a week or more. We still do visit Guaecá but only during the week before the New Year's chaos (as opposed to our freezing northern hemisphere experiences, New Year's is hot beach weather here in the southern hemisphere).

To get to the São Paulo coastline beaches, you have basically four options of roadways: Tamoios (nightmare under construction), Imigrantes (nice but very busy), Anchieta (Imigrantes' predecessor that gets reversed in direction when things get busy) and Mogi-Bertioga (take a Dramamine and expect to wait when you get near Bertioga). Now what happens when 255,000 (estimated) tourists get on the road for a three day weekend? I think you can guess. I imagine it looks roughly like trying to get to Cape Cod from Boston, the Hamptons from New York and Key West from Miami.

From the spy cameras at DER. This is the return on Sunday, much lighter than the Friday traffic

It is easy to find yourself in a traffic nightmare on any given weekend you spend on the litoral norte (the north coast of São Paulo state). As I mentioned in a previous blog, a trip that used to take us 2 1/2 hours from Guaeca to São Paulo took us 4 1/2 hours on a regular two-day weekend. And you don't even want to think about a holiday weekend like this past one--Friday was Proclamation of the Republic Day, a day celebrated apparently mostly by the military, since I did not see anyone "celebrating" what the day meant (the overthrow of the monarchy in Brazil). Much like Memorial Day is celebrated by very few, in any meaningful way, in the US.

Now as an aside, I suggest the Brazil try to make a more fun holiday out of the Proclamation of the Republic Day. Instead of borrowing Halloween, why don't we have everyone dress up as their favorite monarchist? Dom Pedro, or Carlota or maybe the Bragança e Orleans folks (yes, we have some of the descendents still around in Brazil) don't even need to dress up! Maybe we could make it even international and we could have some Queen Elizabeths and King Wilhelms wandering about.  Then we could have a reenactment of the military overthrow (don't worry, it was peaceful, no one gets hurt like those Civil War enactments) and then hand out candy. It could work.

Anyway, digression done. It turns out that you have to be insane to try to go to a "nearby" beach on a holiday weekend. On our way out to the fazenda on Friday morning, we heard that some people had left at 3:30 am on that Friday, and at 11 am were still only 115 kms from São Paulo. This was on Radio SulAmerica, possibly the most-respected traffic source. And now coming back from the fazenda (there is no TV or internet there), we were hearing of people stuck in 5 hours or more of traffic on a normally one hour route.

As I sat down to my computer last night for the first time in days, I saw that prevailing advice was to leave at midnight or later if you were coming home from the beach. It's just not worth it. 

From today's Folha de São Paulo front cover: stuck in the tunnel from the beach

Hanging out on Rodovia Tamoios

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