Published: August 25th 2007August 24th 2007
Reflections of Paraty
At high tide the ancient streets of Paraty flood making crossing the road a little difficult.
With the clock ticking on our adventure we decided to head south for some relaxation before returning to Rio for a last few days. Our first stop was Paraty and we managed by sheer coincidence to arrive at Rio´s bus terminal minutes before a bus left and bagged the last two seats. 4 hours later we arrived, realised we had the address of the B&B we had booked into but no map and began to wander off vaguely in the direction we had guessed was right before being stopped by an English man holding a sign with Matt´s name, ready to escort us to our home for the next 2 days.
Paraty sits on the coast and the drive to it from Rio had been fantastic, along one of the 'World´s most beautiful highways' where mountains covered in Atlantic rainforest meet golden beaches lapped by turquoise water, and tiny islands sit offshore seemingly deserted. Paraty itself is equally easy on the eye with a colonial town centre roped off from traffic, it has actually been declared a national historic monument meaning the buildings, which are now a mix of bars, restaurants, cafes and shops, can only be altered on the
No direction home
We dont actually know which way this arrow is pointing.....or exactly where our true "home" is anymore (bit deep that one)
Our B&B sat just outside the historic centre and was run by the son of the guy we had met at the bus station, it seemed that Ross had arrived as a traveller about 10 years ago and decided to stay now running a hostel as well as the B&B. It was great, a big room, free internet (and unlike bigger hostels where free internet means it´s never free we actually got to use it) and a great breakfast.
Despite its coastal location the beach in Paraty is pretty sparse and host to load of schooner boats that tourists out each day for tours round the bay and its surrounding islands which is exactly where we found ourselves the following day.
Our schooner was mainly filled with Brazilian holidaymakers including a family where the Dad came and introduced himself, shook our hands and asked where we were from (in Portugese which we managed to answer using Spanish), he was clearly excited by the fact that we came from England, calling his daughter (who was studying English in school) over to meet us and taking photos of us all together as well as sneakily taking pictures and
filming us when he thought we weren´t looking!
The boat stopped at a few beaches and we were able to swim from the boat as well. The whole trip was soundtracked by a man badly crooning and playing a guitar through the PA system, having discussed how awful it was you can imagine our surprise at being handed a bill for the cover charge at the end of the day, luckily Matt explained we hadn´t understood a word all day and excempted the only gringos on board.
Paraty´s size means it doesn´t take long to explore, though the place is charming with cobbled streets and an atmosphere that transports you to another era, we could have easily spent another day soaking it up but needed to make a move to our next destination. Ilha Grande
Seduced by a guidebook description stating that Ilha Grande is a 'mountain ridge covered in tropical forest sticking out of an emerald sea and fringed by some of the World´s most beautiful beaches´as well as glowing reports of the island from the Romanos we found ourselves on a bus to take us the two hours north to Angra Dos Reis from
where boats connect to the island.
One of the great things about travelling is the people you meet expecially since they are often not the sort of people you would get a chance to meet in the real world. En route to Angra Dos Reis we met Victor a theatre actor/screenplay writer living in Upper West Side Manhatten working as an English teacher in the Bronx, he explained that he had been unsure whether to even approach us as Matt looked stern and had guessed we were probably from the states as well on account of Matt having the look of an American hipster (Matt instantly took to Victor!).
Along with Victor we made it to the island and managed to find a great pousada to stay at. Recoleta das Flores was set in a beautiful garden with fruit growing all around us (freshly picked pineapple for breakfast) but the best thing about our room was its small kitchen meaning Matt cooked dinner ´at home´one night (funny the things that are a novelty when you are away for so long). The place is run by a Brazilian lady that we communicated with through a mix of her broken
Next stop paradise
Our boat trip to Lopes Mendez about to dock
English and our broken Spanish, her mother however was completely indifferent to the fact that we couldn´t speak Portugese and thought that by repeating herself loudly we would eventually get it....we never did.
Ilha Grande lives up to the hype, we spent our days walking through trails through the mountains which were rewarded with beautiful stretches of golden sand which were practically deserted as it was mid week in the off peak season. Determined to wring every last minute out of our quickly fading trip we even took advantage of the cloudy days proclaiming one to be good walking weather and heading 13km (each way) to a slightly eerie section of the island where a disused prison now stands.
Deserted beaches during the day also meant not much life in the evenings with several places actually being closed, we even spent one night as the only customers in a restaurant. We did however bump into a Canadian couple from our Pantanal trip and met them later for drinks, doubling the number of people in the bar we stopped at.
On one night we headed to a fairly busy bar for a few drinks, 3 Caiparinhas and 2
Prisoner cell block H
Looking out for the screws at Ilha Grandes abandoned and very creepy prison
beers later we asked for the bill. After the second time of telling the waitress the bill was for more drinks than we had the owner appeared and started shouting at us and waving his arms, causing us to do the same back angrily until a Brazilian sat beside us explained he was saying that we didn´t have to pay anything because of all the ´stress´....how can drinking cocktails on a beach side ever be stressfull? Still we didn´t need telling twice and made our escape before he changed his mind.
With 106 beaches to choose from we couldn´t possibly see them all so on our final day we took a boat the 45 minutes to the most famous, said to be one of Brazil´s most beautiful - Lopes Mendes. The beach was stunning with really compact sand, big waves, striking scenery and a faint smell of funny cigarettes. We had a really relaxing day, lazing reading in the sun and walking along the beach keen to make the most of everything about the island before our return to the big city the following day.
The reality of the end of the trip has really started to sink
Our Ihla Grande home
fresh pineapple, humming birds and a hammock! paradise!
in and we have began to make plans for when we get back home. In the weeks running up to this point going home excited me but always seemed some way off, now as the time left shrinks from weeks to days every great view, swim in the ocean or cold beer watching the sunset reminds me how great the last year has been, how lucky we are to have been able to do this and how much I am going to miss it.
Last stop Rio - again.
There are more photos below