signs of thrilling events in Brazil's hystory can still be
found on the northern shores of São Paulo. Here the natives,
settlers, jesuits and pirates fought for their promised land
where the finally victorious Portuguese established the basis
for a new Nation. Lots of remains from colonial times can
still be found in the landscape: cannons, historical centers
such as Paraty and São Sebastiao, ranches in ruins or
restored in Ilhabela and Caraguá, forts in Paraty and
Bertioga. Churches and modest chapels in Ubatuba. Part of this
past is hidden in the bushes and part of it has vanished
through the centuries from memory.
Nevertheless today its possible to discover that heroic
period, with the help from specialized companies and projects
from city halls. One just has to take a placid stroll thruogh
the preserved areas, or follow the rustic trails to discover
ruins hidden benath the centenarian trees . And in company of
the Caiçaras search for the traditions that survived being
passed on from one generation to the next.
Researches also revealed the life of nomadic tribes that were
there before the arrival of the indian natives at the
beginning of the Christian era. The northern seaside reveals
itself as rich in history as in sunny beaches.
Before the beginning of the christian era, Ubatuba already was
inhabitated by groups that dedicated themselves to fishing and
collecting of shellfish fulfilling their diet with game,
fruits , seeds and roots. frutos, Their groups roamed the
beaches, cliffs, mangroves and lakes serching for fish,
shellfish, turtles, dolphins, small mammals, birds and
products from the forest.
In preparing their food they made small fires, grilling
devices and cooked or roasted the meat over burning coal.
While fishing they probabely used bow and arrow just like the
indian tribes did, their successors by the time of Brazil's
The team of the University of São Paulo leaded by the
archeologist Dorath P. Uchôa, studied the sites of Tenório a
and the island of Mar Virado near the Saco da Ribeira inlet
and came to the conclusions mentioned above . In the museum of
the Fundart Institution in Ubatuba one can find millenia old
utensils found at those excavation sites.
The Portuguese Brazil
The northern seaside of São Paulo kept a great part of its
original landscape until the opening of the Rio-Santos highway
in 1975. Several cycles of urbanizing of areas didn't spoil
its general outline. They only preserved for the future the
places for visitation of historical places full of memories
and intriguing legends. Here still are the ruins from colonial
times, native villages and pristine beaches just like in the
times of Martim Afonso de Sousa, Lord of the Province of São
Vicente that included the major part of the actual coast of
São Paulo, where the battles that decided the fate of this
country were fought. Here the Portuguese and Catholic Brazil
was forged. It could have been French and Protestant or even
indigenous if the outcome of those fights had been different.
From the defeated natives only a few settlements of the
guarani indians in São Sebastião and Ubatuba are remaining
with their original caiçara's way of preparing manioc flour.
The indians made the "uí-atã", a common dry manioc
flour made from raw grated manioc roots pressed by hand or
with the "tipiti"cylinder, not different from the
flour made by the caiçaras of today
The Tamoio Confederation
The Portuguese dominion was consolidated. The province of São
Vicente was the biggest between the ten established by
Portugal's King D. João III, and the first to be colonized in
the beginning of 1532. The villages emerged on the sedimentary
plains by the sea where the water resources and soil promoted
a favourable agricultural growth and allowed the raising of
cattle herds. In the area of the shores of the province of Rio
de Janeiro, the French seeked alliances with the indians in
order to establish "Austral France". In 1556 the
tupinambá indians were leading the Tamoio Confederation under
the rule of Cunhambebe, the "Great Chief".
While besieging the town of São Vicente, the indians captured
Hans Staden. In 1557 the Portuguese, or "perós"
recaptured the Fort of São Felipe, and crossing the Bertioga
channel raised the Fort of Santiago.Both forts defended the
settlers against the fearsome cannibals. The most famous
report about the life of the indians was written by the German
Hans Staden who lived as a prisoner with the indians and
almost turned into lunch in the settlement of Iperoig, known
today as Ubatuba.
Staden, an adventurer.
He managed to avoid being eaten for thanksgiving, and the
first edition of his report in 1557 was presented as the
"Real history and description of a country inhabited by
savage naked men and cannibals situated in the new world
called América, unknown in the country of Hessen before and
after the birth of Jesus Christ until last year. Hans Staden
from Homberg in Hessen saw and experienced it by himself and
now divulges this report thanks to the invention of
The remains of the indian population still appear on the free
markets and local fairs of artisans, selling their traditional
products among brownskinned caiçaras who, not rarely, blink
their blue eyes inherited from the French. Visiting the indian
villages depends on prior authorization from the Funai
During the first half of the nineteenth century the northern
shores underwent a period of growth. At first they were
difficult times due to the constant harassing by pirates that
roamed the coast bringing terror to the local populations and
that only would fade after 1830.
Beyond that, the shores resented the lack of communication
with the upland. The trails established by Father Dória
connecting São Sebastião to the the other side of the
mountains and Ubatuba to São Luís do Paraitinga are both
from this century.
The opening of these trails was stimulated by a new product,
coffee, with Ubatuba and São Sebastião leading its
cultivation and export. The improvement of the roads would
occur only later in the sixties with the beginning of tourism.
Having had their importance as coffe ports, São Sebastião e
Ubatuba started to decline when in 1867 the railroad between
São Paulo and Santos became operational. In 1877 the railway
connection between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro was
established. These tracks contributed to the economic decay of
the northern shores.
Beyond the day to day farming and fishing the area developed
the growing of bananas, a culture that was introduced from the
lowlands of Santos in the beginning of the eighteenth century
and intensified in the next. Several attempts were made to
link São Sebastião to the uplands of São Paulo by railway.
Ubatuba even started to partially build a railway with french
technology . Luckily for the later on coming tourists it
wasn't successful. The area preserved its beauty for a new
discovery. Today it holds a magnificent past and lonely
beaches waiting for the new adventurers with their four by
fours, bikes, boats and yachts,offering marinas, an extensive
array of hotels, intense nightlife and a thriving commerce.