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Published: June 25th 2009
From Iguazu we decided to take a bus to Sao Paulo and from there directly on to a little coastal town called Paraty (pronounced "Parachi"). This was a pretty gruelling journey totalling over 24 hours but we decided not to stop in Sao Paulo as the guidebook suggested the main sites were museums so not really our kind of place (i.e too cultural) so we decided to spend our time in Brazil in and around Rio. The bus ride from Iguazu took an "interesting" turn when we were raided by the military police. It did not help that we cant speak a word of Portuguese but the policeman kindly explained in English while he was searching through Joe's bag that it was a "Blitz" - oh much clearer then. When they had searched through 90% of the bags of all the men on the bus, having not found anything, they thanked us all. As they only searched men, I am sure it wont be long before the local drug barons learn that using women is the way forward.
Having eventually arrived in Paraty we headed for a Pousada (family run hotel) called Pousada Guarana that was recommended to us by
an Irish couple we met in BA (thanks Sharron and Rory if you are reading). The place is superb, only built three years ago in a colonial style with funky decor, a pool, hammocks and a veritable menagerie of cats and dogs. The owners were really welcoming and are so helpful in assisting with our plans. Its a really chilled out place so we are taking it easy and having a few days rest.
Day one was hot and sunny (despite being winter here, England eat your heart out) so we decided to borrow some bikes from the Pousada and visit the local beach. The bikes are quite old school with only one gear and the problem of having to peddle backwards to break. We learnt that cycling is not one of Sarah's key strengths as there were a couple of cycling "incidents". First up was a little humpbacked bridge and despite the incline on both sides being minimal, Sarah could not make it up the "hill" without walking and when she re-mounted went out of control on the downhill slope crashing into the side of the bridge screaming "Joey help". Luckily she was going about 2 miles an
hour and so no serious damage was done but we did go over again how you are supposed to brake. When we took the bikes out later the chain and pedal on the one Sarah was using mysteriously fell off despite protestations that she did not do anything. The actual beach was lovely and there were only a few other tourists there. We did not brave the sea as it was pretty cold (it is winter afterall).
We visited the old town in the evenings. Its one of the most complete colonial towns in Brazil so has been declared a protected national monument. Its made up of cobbled streets that are designed to actually flood at high tide (something that we experienced and were a bit concerned that we might be witnessing a natural disaster - but luckily after we had been for dinner the floods had subsided) and pretty little colonial buildings. There are lots of art galleries and artisan shops that we, of course, avoided and lots of really good restaurants, that we didnt. We have been a bit naughty and not yet sampled any Brazilian fare, opting for French and Thai cuisine instead, but hey we are travelling for 5 months so thats allowed - plus the food was excellent.
Brazil has been a bit of a shock in terms of cost as things are a lot more expensive than the rest of South America, being comparable with the UK for transport, food and drink (except beer which is pretty cheap).
Today it is raining, hence we thought we would spend some time catching up on the blog! We are off to Rio tomorrow for our last few days in South America.
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