Published: September 25th 2010September 2nd 2010
After arriving at the quaint colonial town of Paraty, we located our hostel along a cobbled street only to have our Brazilian, Portuguese speaking, hostess block the door and pull a scrap of paper out of her pocket that said OTHER HOSTEL. After a confusing conversation which included lots of pointing she finally took us to another hostel where the owner spoke as much english as we do Portuguese. We finally managed to get a room and strolled around the historical town for the afternoon. The town was hosting a food festival at the weekend so we explored the local bars and found some live Brazilian music.
On day 2 we decided to join a boat trip to visit local islands which s really cool. What is better than being on a boat with cold beers, fresh fruit, warm sunshine, crystal waters and white sandy beaches? which was amazing, apart from South American mens desire to wear the smallest brightest swimming gear ever (no matter how fat or old!). But that still provided much amusement.
In the evening Shawn led us swiftly to the beer tent to sample the local wares where we bumped into a couple of friends from Rio
Just in case we get lost!
and spent the evening sipping various flavoured alcoholic slushes. Yummy!
It was then time to depart Paraty, as we wanted to catch apparentaly the most picturesque train in Brazil - which will then take us to the port to to Ilha do Mel (Island of Honey). After a 6 hour slower than slow train journey through the Brazilian countryside we were somewhat underimpressed. Although there were some breathtaking sites this was only for an hour of the journey maybe - the rest was trees and a couple of tunnels. A short boat ride later and we finally arrived at the island and located a Pousada with a couple (Stuart and Rosie) we met along the way. Our first night/meal on the Island was..... 'interesting'. Bare in mind the Island has no roads and not many street lights Shawn and Stuart found what they believed to be a nice place to eat with a great deal on Shrimp, fish and chicken hmmmmmm. After asking for the menu we decided to order, at this point we were told our only options were shrimp or fish (despite an extensive menu) and what may come with the fish and
shrimp - just chips. We contemplated going else where, but didn't want to wonder aimlessly around dark sandy paths with no idea where to go. So we ordered to plates of fish and 2 plates of shrimp. So the first plate arrives.... and the shrimp, well they were tiny littlwe shrimp deep fried still with their shells on, and where are the other plates? Well as the chap (a stoned dreadlocked rasta!) only had one frier he had to return to the kitchen to cook each dish individually!!! The shrimop were too small to peel, so Stuart decided to eat them with their shells (somehting he could feel in his throat for a couple of days), and he ran out of beer too! The most gutting part..... If we'd have just turned left out of our Pousada there were 3 really nice restaurants just up the road DOH!
However despite that, Ilha Do Mel was pituresque, if not a little misty, but the weather was still warm enough to explore the island and the beautiful deserted beaches, through clearly marked out paths (check out the pics with the green arrows). And we had a nice time.
2 nights on the island we decided to move on and caught the boat back to the mainland. Here´s where travelling becomes less fun. 12 hours, 1 boat ride, and 2 buses later we arrived at Florianopolis, the Gateway to Santa Catarina, where we had planned to catch a local bus to go straight to the surf town on the other side of the island. However, at 11:30pm, with no accommodation booked, we thought it best just to find a bed for the night in the city. Despite beingg described in lonelty planet as a quaint hotel - the place was Hmmm, lets just say it was cheap and very questionable - we did not stay for brekky in the morning!!
First thing in the morning, we made our way to Lagoa, a large town close to all the beaches. Shawn instantly loved it as therre was a pub called the bull's head advertising all football games and he saw his chance to be to watch Villa for the first time since arriving in Brazil. We found a cool hostel with a pool table, bar, table futbol, dartboard, huge flatscreen TV with DVD´s galore, (great for the
hangover mornings) and bikes for hire. After a chat with Sergio, our host, we grabbed a couple of 'top of the range' bikes and went to explore. However, in reality the bikes were vey old with no suspesnion, no gears and questionable chains. But we didn't care and merrily set off foe the beech. The map only showed the roads to the beaches and not the terrain and as incredible as the bikes were they could not quite make it up the hills that led to the beaches. Downhill was not a problem for these bad boys though and we made it to two beaches and watched the surfers doing their thing and making it look decidedly easy.
The following day we walked to Joaquina beach where there are really cool sand dunes and hired a board to try our hand at dune surfing. Our only training had been a video Sergio had shown us of his girlfriend´s rather unsuccessful attempt and his advice to close your mouth when you fall off (not something you remember as you are screaming and trying to keep your balance, and a mouth full of sand is not nice!). Check out the pics and
the videos. Great fun, although Jo discovered she can no longer do the splits without causing considerable pain and long shorts are a must unless you´re happy with sand in your pants.
Of course, you cannot visit a surf island without having a lesson so we walked to the next town to check it out. Why is it that on a map, places look much closer than they are? I think hills are a key component that should factor into maps to show you realistic distances. At the first beach we soon realised this was not a beginners beach and after consulting the map, we thought we could reach Barra de Logoa by walking down a couple of beaches. As we reached the end of the beach, we could see no way around the boulders and were about to head back to the road, when we spotted a guy heading behind the rocks and disappearing behind some bushes only to reappear a little further along. Aha! A hidden path. We followed the path along the coast for some time until at last we reached another long and apparently deserted beach. Until Shawn pointed out the guy we
had followed was just by the rocks...completely naked! We hurried on as we didn´t want to disturb him and after a little while spotted a surfer walking towards us. As we got closer, Jo spotted there was something this guy was missing and it wasn´t a surfboard. Yep, we had innocently stumbled onto the naturist beach. Unfortunately, there also appeared to be no way to the next beach and we had to trek about 40 mins back along both beaches to the road before we could get back on track to our intended destination, which was still nearly an hours walk away! We also seemed to have gained a new "friend" as no matter where we went the original naked guy seemed to just appear next to us! Needless to say after checking out our surf lesson and being followed by stray dogs, we got the bus directly home!
We did return for the surf lesson on Saturday, which was really cool as there were baby waves to get you started. Shawn took to it like a pro while Jo was having a little more difficulty but still managed to catch a few waves. After some time the instructor suggested,
Shawn could move to a smaller board to challenge himself and maybe he could use a board like Jo´s. AHA! that explains it! After Jo boarded Shawn´s ´Raft´ she soon understood why he was succeeding. You could dance on the giant board without falling off! Credit to Shawn though, he was still better than me! To celebrate, we dined at a beach restaurant on a scrummy local dish called La Sequencia de Camarao (shrimp, shrimp and more shrimp cooked in various ways served with rice, chips, salad, crab croquets and fish with some more shrimps on it!) Deliciousa! although more shrimps than it is humanly possible to eat.
We also had a few decent nights on the town; a 60´s, 70´s, 80´s and 90´s night in the local British pub, where Shawto which we laughed, but in Uruguay we were about to find out what he meant!!n had blissfully dicovered he could watch Villa play earlier in the day. Sergio also took us to some local bars and where we experienced live Brazilian reggae music. We met another English couple Hollie and Adam who were doing a similar jopurney to us and who provided some great company and we
Vista from train
The 30 minutes of views on the 6 hour triain journey are coming to an end!
hit a Samba night at the next town.
All in all, Santa Catarina was an awesome experience and felt like a real holiday!
We departed from Santa Catrina for our 26 hour journey to Uruguay, with Sergio's comment of "you're heading South, are you guys crazy?!"
There are more photos below