Where in the Brazil are we?

Ubatuba! Holy crap. Does that sound like the kind of place you’d like to visit?

I mean how tubaed do ya want to get?

Hold on there. Let’s start this again. What’s your stereotype of Brazil and Brazilians? (That is of course as long as you’re not Brazilian yourself.)

Still not totally sure what mine was, but so far, it ain’t fitting.

"People think of Brazil, they think of two things: the favelas and the jungle," Adriano de Souza tells us, twirling his sharp little black car around another bend as we hurtle toward yet another tubaing lil beachbreak in this extremely fun neck of the Atlantic rainforest that, clich or not, carpets almost all of southern Brazil’s thousand or so miles of coastline. Think Jalama on acid or Salt Creek on its very best day, with toucans screaming in the dense subtropical foliage and nobody on the beach except a couple of dogs.

Adriano is part of the reason that team SURFING'S come blundering down into this fascinating part of the planet. 22 years of age, top-five guy on a run, homeland WCT event less than two weeks away, yet still a bit of a mystery even to many of his competitors, the kid’s got to be worth our time on his own. But we’re also here to challenge our own stereotypes, our own blunt dumb lack of knowledge of this huge surfing nation, where more people surf than in either the US or Australia, yet weirdly, nobody ever tells us anything about!

What’s THAT all about I wonder. Well you can tell us your opinions below. Meanwhile I’m gonna guess at some of your stereotypes and tell you what we’ve seen so far.

Brazil’s all about the favelas and the jungle. And oh yeah, those dancing girls. And those other girls on the beach with nearly no clothes on. Yeah well we can testify that those girls do exist, but it’s a bit more complicated than that, 74% of the population is staunchly Catholic — or at least like Adriano’s girl Claudia, go to church sometimes to please their grandmothers — so don’t get all creepy about it.

Brazilians hassle the crap out of other people in the water. Got to say that hasn’t happened yet. Been surfing a lot, in tight beachbreak situations, a couple of times with a couple of dozen surfers within 50 yards, and everyone’s been super polite. What they don’t do, or haven’t done yet, is bow to superior talent; Adriano, one of the wave-hungriest humans in WCT-world, takes it in turns just like the clumsy guy on the longboard who during one session catches wave after wave and deliberately jumps off his board going down the face every time. You don’t often see that, hey.

Brazilian people don’t speak English. Whoa! You’re right! They don’t! They speak Portuguese. That’s how other countries are sometimes. In fact a lot of this part of Brazil, other than the toucans etc, feels very European — towns with narrow cobblestone streets, little bars where they sell you shots of brain-freezing cane spirit instead of red wine, and everyone eats really late after they’ve drunk too much beer.

Even the beachbreaks feel European. That’s it — Anglet or Hossegor! But with toucans.

Time to go find some Ubatubas.