Getting to destination more easily and quickly than planned is always a good start. Plus, the weather was gorgeous—i.e. blue sky, worth celebrating in a rainy region—and my Airbnb came with free coffee and chocolate, basically all that I need to survive.
I hadn’t done much research on São Sebastião because the gateway to Ilhabela was “just” a three-day stop, but I was pleasantly surprised.
“There’s a Petrobrás oil terminal, so expect high security and giant pipes.”
“Want a souvenir? Like, a small bottle of gasoline? Ethanol, maybe?”
“Just check the price of gas. I’m curious to know how expensive it is compared to Canada,” Feng asked.
I didn’t even notice the pipes running under the avenida at first and no, the air didn’t smell of gasoline (nor money). The historical centre, however, was lovely. It reminded me of Mexico for some reason, with rows of pastel-coloured one-storey buildings.
I found São Sebastião cozier and less wild than last-frontier-Ubatuba, a very subjective feeling considering I lived with ants and lizards in the apartment and there were giant sea turtles swimming between piers at the waterfront. But the atmosphere was friendly, supermarkets were modern and the main road had sidewalks—doesn’t take much to make me happy.
Like in Ubatuba, the main attractions are the many beaches. And like in Ubatuba, most aren’t easy to access or are just really, really far—Maresias and Juquehy are recommanded, but they aee respectively 30 and 50 kilometres from São Sebastião, so a very long bus trip or a very pricey Uber ride.
I opted for Barequeçaba, a walkable six kilometres trip one way. Or so I thought. I followed the road uphill, downhill, uphill again and I swore I’d take the bus back, which I did. The beach was lovely, though.
The next day I splurged on a 20-reais ($4.20) Uber ride to Guaecá, just a bit further. Then I walked to Barequeçaba, across the hill, and joined the crowd waiting for the bus that eventually showed up.
I realized something was wrong when I arrived in Centro. Stores were closing and employees were hanging out in front of the few still open. “Power outage.”
I answered my own question a few blocks further. Yes, everywhere, but supermarkets had their own emergency generator. Unfortunately, I don’t carry my own, so it was pitch-dark at the apartment and my phone was running out of battery.