It’s pouring rain outside and I find it strangely comforting.
Of course, it’s going to be annoying if it’s still raining when we wake up. I mean, come on, Mother Nature, don’t spoil our adventures! But tonight, and even today, the rain was a relief—no sunshine at the beach, no pressure to make the most of the day, let’s catch up on life instead.
We needed this break.
The day had started reasonably early for January 2. It’s summer, it’s sunny (or at least it was) and it’s hot. Gosh, I can’t imagine showing up at work or school on January 2 in the northern hemisphere. There should be a law against that. It’s too cold and too early in the year to be productive. How about making a “right to hibernate” motion? Would you support it?
For us, January 2 it was checkout time. We dropped the key tag in the mailbox and drove straight to the airport to drop off the rental car and pick up a new one—we had to switch companies for better prices.
“No wonder French people like Brazil,” Feng muttered.
“How long is the drive to Pôrto Belo?”
“Not sure. It depends on the traffic. I’d say… two hours, at least.”
“TWO HOURS?” Mark repeated as if it was a personal affront and as if he wasn’t a Canadian kid used to a 30-minute drive just to go to the Chinese supermarket.
The first traffic jam was due to an accident. The second, the third and the fourth were just typical half-hungover January 2 traffic and foreigners—50% Paraguay 40% Argentina and 10% Uruguay—not used to the unique Brazilian way to change lanes.
Driving in Brazil is an acquired skill. Brazilians are the kindest, most patient people ever. They queue nicely, they are social and friendly, they are always ready to help out… But not on the road. It’s like they have a split personality. The second they sit behind the wheel, they go from point A to point B without a care in the world. The bubbly twenty-something will run you over if you cross in front of her, even if you’re crossing when it’s your turn to do so. The God-fearing vovó has no issue stealing your parking spot and may even back into your car. And the most gentlemanly Brazilian will pass on the right or even drive on the shoulder just because.
And somehow, Feng survives driving in Brazil.
“Okay, we have to find the Atacadista supermarket and go inside a barbershop right across.”
“Is that our Airbnb?”
“We won’t sleep in the supermarket or at the barbershop—at least I hope so. I’m guessing the Airbnb owner is a barber.”
Indeed, the barbershop was right under the apartment. Our host lived downstairs and worked next door.
We were apparently the first Airbnb guest and our host really wanted us to love the place. We exchanged so many messages I started to dread new notifications.
It was an interesting setup, a brand new second floor atop a much older house in the kind of street you probably wouldn’t take at night. The kitchen and the bathroom were brand-new although probably not up to code if such code exists in Brazil. Everything worked, though. This was the best possible Airbnb we could have gotten in Pôrto Belo.
Why Pôrto Belo? Because why not. And also because it’s peak tourist season here, we couldn’t find any good Airbnb in Floripa or Bombinhas, our next destination. So we aimed for Pôrto Belo, conveniently located on the coast, right between the city and the many beach towns around.
The first chore of the day was to tackle the laundry. We usually try to book an Airbnb with a washing machine but the last one didn’t have one and we weren’t picky because it was hard to find a place over New Year. But we arrived in Pôrto Belo with a huge bag of dirty clothes.
We drove to the nearest self-service laundry—it was packed. I created an account using my CPF and phone number, gave all the data to Feng, and decided to go shop and explore the town.
I wanted to buy fish and cook a nice dinner. Google Maps promised me there was a peixaria down the road, like way down the main road across the town, the very jammed BR-101.
I found some fish. I didn’t find much else—walking along BR-101 was a bit like walking along Merivale Road and Pôrto Belo wasn’t super inspiring.
I walked back to lavandaria. The laundry was finally dry. Feng and I decided to drive to the next town, Itapema, for more shopping options.
The road was jammed, of course, and while Itapema was livelier, we weren’t super inspired either. We ended up at the supermarket and hauled enough groceries for three days back to the Airbnb.
There was still so much to do—unpack, cook, take a shower, figure out how things worked around there, both literally and metaphorically.
Pôrto Belo will probably look different tomorrow. All new places are confusing at first, then curiosity takes over and we figure them out.
As long as it stops raining, of course.