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Published: March 29th 2012
Some of the group were going White water rafting (mainly those who weren't on the previous leg of the trip so this was their first opportunity) and breakfast had to be on the table by 8.45am. We cut up melon and boiled the kettle and sorted out the cereals, after which it all had to get cleared away. There was a decent sink with proper running water so prior to breakfast, Jo washed all twenty-four or so food-encrusted bowls as they were not pleasant to eat from!
Following breakfast, we walked into the town about twenty minutes away and looked round the shops. A pleasant town although nothing there of any particular interest. We then sheltered in an ice-cream parlour during a particularly fierce downpour of rain following which we found a wine shop/deli that had only been open for eight months and was owned by an English-speaking girl and bought two very small pieces of cheese and a bottle of wine for later/another day.
Back to the camp site (after getting a little lost and having to ask a couple of people in our best Portuguese the way back), a typical bus lunch of cheese, ham or tuna
stale bread rolls and back on board for 1.15pm with the promise of a long driving day (arrival supposedly between 9.00 and 10.00 pm) at our next port of call - Paraty.
The roads were mainly dual carriageway so despite the long distance, the torrential rain and thunder and lightning and several garage stops for fuel, drinks and toilets, we made good progress until Dave and Ivan decided to try out a new 'quicker' route over a mountain pass. Never a good idea in the dark with poor headlights in the driving rain and particularly if you haven't done the route before. Progress was slow and then became even slower when they turned off the main road for an additional 'shortcut' not realising that the map showed this as a 'dirt road'. The road was no wider than the bus and wound and turned with overhanging trees with bumps and ridges of compacted clay and the bus bumped and swayed so much that someone described it as 'white-water rafting but without the water' which was an extremely apt description. Each kilometre took longer than it would have done to walk it as it was unsafe to drive any faster than at a snail's pace. At one point, the bus had to be brought to a complete standstill (being careful not to stall the engine as had that happened we would have been stuck with no way of getting started again due to the broken starter motor!) to remove fallen branches and to negotiate water filled ruts. At one point, we all disembarked with our torches while they drove the bus through a very wet part and we all got our feet and bottoms of our trousers very muddy.
We eventually hit tarmac again and several winding roads later, finally reached Paraty at 12.30am. The idea had been that those of us not wanting to camp would stay at a local hostel and we were looking forward to a comfortable double bed, air conditioning and private facilities. Unfortunately, the lights were all out on arrival and the hostel was closed until morning. We had no alternative but to get our tent out yet again for the final time.
The weather was extremely humid and possibly due to rain again. A tent with the rain cover blocking any air is not pleasant. We slept fitfully due to constant music from somewhere until 4.45 am, some of our group coming back drunk at 5.00 am and laughing maniacally across the camp site and a visit by a dark shape looming outside the tent at 4.30 am when Jo needed the loo. When she finally dared unzip the four zips to look outside, she was confronted with a horse in the distance which had spent the night trotting around the camp site and specifically, around our tent!!
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