Little Paraty, just four hours from Brazil’s big and boisterous Rio de Janeiro, is a world away from the year round “carnival” atmosphere of its famed big city. To be brief; quaint, quiet and cobblestoned. To do it justice; a town of gorgeous colonial charm which would appeal to even the most stubborn modernist. With a pleasant community atmosphere Paraty showcases numerous charming churches, an abundance of green, open squares and a small labyrinth of delightful lanes on which the residential homes are fronted with glossy, brightly painted doors. I must admit, it charmed the pants off me (and that was before I had even seen the beaches!) and thus I invested significant energy into my sadly failed attempt at convincing Chris that we should live there, forever. So keen was I, I even browsed the window of the local estate agents shop. For my sweet, dear Paraty and I, it was love and first sight.
Riding Brazil’s coastal roads to our next destination was an up-and-down-side-to-side kind of experience. The coast snakes and small mountains rise abruptly, the combination of which creates a chain of small coves with beaches and local settlements. The bigger beaches obviously attract
the tourist crowds, but being out of season they were deserted as we passed through. Despite a tormented stomach (motion sickness finally found me- hoorah!) I warmed immediately to Paraty, as soon as my boots hit the cobblestones. Chris was nauseous for entirely different reasons; the four hour ride had cost us the equivalent of 40GBP between us, which compared to our last bus ride in India, which cost 4GBP for a 16 hour journey, felt a little bit like a brutal mugging for the travel budgeteer.
We dropped our bags and hurried out, unable to wait longer to explore the town which, (fun fact!) is actually below sea level and as such, each night as the tide comes in the lanes and alleyways are submerged in the salty brine. That first evening we used the flooded streets and dusk light to our advantage and spent a while taking photographs. We sat on the wall of a very Latin American looking church and watched a fisherman wade waist deep as he arranged his nets accompanied by his lop-eared canine who entertained us no end as we watched him go about his dogly duties.
following morning we awoke to find a great breakfast of delicious fresh fruit, breads and cereals. I was personally delighted to find a jug of “guarana” waiting for me, which I had tried previously having been prompted by the many passing Brazilians drinking it. Guarana is a berry indigenous to Venezuela and north Brazil which (fun fact numero dois!) is believed to be magical by many tribal people in those areas. Magic or not, it is truly tasty!
After breakfast we crossed the canal to access the beach of Praia do Pontal. I don’t believe in modesty for modesty’s sake (not to worry, this anecdote does not end in topless sunbathing, although while we are on the subject some women on the beach could have benefitted with much larger briefs...), and I feel that it is reasonable to say that during our travels we have been irreversibly spoiled with breathtaking beaches, therefore I would describe Paraty’s beach as simply “nice enough”, and I feel that would be fair. We spent a pleasant day there sunbathing in an attempt to colour our pasty bodies which, for me in particular, have
been hidden away for months on account of Indian sensitivities.
We were more impressed by the beaches found in the neighbouring village of Trinidade, which is easily accessible by a short bus ride from Paraty. Here we found a long sandy stretch and clearer waters. Our plan to return the following day to enjoy the other beach and hike to the natural pool formed by a waterfall was foiled by poor weather. There are many campsites in Trinidade and I’m sure that if we had the time (oh, and a tent) that we would have stayed a while, but for now we will have to be content with our one lovely day there in the sunshine.
At night we often found ourselves sat on a bench in one of the squares listening to music spill from nearby restaurants. Local people seemed to congregate here also; children with skateboards and bicycles, teenagers (a different species to those found in our native England with their black hoods and newly found penchant for knife crime) hanging out, old couples holding hands and friends talking over recent scandals. We laughed our breath away watching as a spotted Dalmatian
succumbed to the threats and intimidation of the local Dog Gang (who by the way escorted us all the way home one night) by hopping onto the lap of his owner in an act of unabashed cowardice. Though recounting it now, it appears that it was one of those things where you just had to be there...
So, other than indulging in the Disney-esque personification of inane animals we also spent a considerable amount of time cooking, which has been quite the novelty after so long! I’d be a liar to say that either of us are actually any good at cooking, but since we’ve been travelling we have compiled a list as long as your arm of new dishes we have wanted to try for ourselves, and since it is “so bloody expensive” (Chris Ashton, 2012) in Brazil all the hostels have kitchens and it’s been quite helpful to our budget to cook and enjoyable all the same!
Now, on the topic of “Food and Drink” it’s worth noting that we had a wee tipple of the very popular Brazilian cocktail by the name of “Caipirinha” which is lime juice, sugar, ice and
cachaça (that’s the booze). And what an ideal place to be drinking this exotic brew, in the town that gave it its irritatingly unpronounceable name, as “parati” is a synonym of cachaça! (Please note that this would be fun fact three.) Actually, we found it less than ideal. Actually it almost choked us both to death. And embarrassingly I had to give up after two mouthfuls as I had started to “feel the effects” prematurely...
Our time in Paraty was intended as a quiet “holiday” from the weariness we had been feeling from travelling. Sadly, we didn’t stay as long as planned due to poor weather, though it certainly did the trick in helping us to unwind. So, for now Paraty, until we meet again...
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