Arriving in Paraty through Brazil’s Costa Verde, we were greeted by a spectacular backdrop of misty mountains and dense jungle (think Gorillas in the Mist). It soon became clear that this was a place as relaxing as Rio is hectic and we decided to spend our first day reading in the hostel’s hammocks and playing cards.
Venturing out on our second day, we explored Paraty’s famous old town. A colonial town dating back to the 17th Century, Paraty’s brightly coloured doors, horse drawn carriages and cobbled streets give one the illusion of stepping back in time and we contented ourselves with exploring the little hidden shops and markets scattered throughout the town.
In the evening, having been tipped off by a local about some samba dancing that was to take place in the Old Town Square, we dressed up and set off to prove ourselves equal to Danny and Oti. This, however, was to be our first encounter with a tropical thunder storm. The rain that thundered down was so powerful and unrelenting that the whole town came to a stand still. Within minutes the streets had completely flooded and we were wading shin deep to find shelter while enormous bolts of lightening clattered overhead. We were later told that Paraty’s streets were designed to flood as a way of cleaning the town at high tide. Very ingenious, but also very inconvenient and, after nearly an hour of rain, we gave up on our dancing and went back to the hostel. From its balcony we watched the rest of what turned out to be the first of many thunder storms that we would experience, the likes of which you wouldn’t even find in Manchester.
The next day, having finally recovered from Rio and feeling ready to get out and do something, we signed up to do Paraty’s infamous Caipboat tour. Caipboat, so called because of the unlimited supply of Caiprihanas onboard, is a glorified booze cruise which, predictably, attracted all the Brits in the area. More than this though, it was a chance to explore the surrounding islands, find hidden beaches, snorkel with fish and sunbath with fellow travellers on the boat’s deck. Despite being a thoroughly enjoyable experience, it only helped to set us apart from the locals. We were no longer the pasty white English couple, but the very sunburnt English couple. Arriving back to our dorm after the boat trip we were immediately set upon by South American travellers who thrust bottles of aloe Vera into our hands and exclaimed that they had not realised people could be so red. Very embarrassing but testament, again, to how friendly the local people are.
The next day, having underestimated the popularity of travel during the Brazilian high season (very stupid of us), we had a nightmare morning trying to arrange a bus to São Paulo. With none being available until two days after we had wanted to leave we had to alter our plan slightly and stay longer in Paraty. This didn’t particularly bother us but after the stress of trying to arrange it all we decided to treat ourselves by visiting Cachoerira Tobog (or as we like to call it, Nature’s Waterpark), an area in the Atlantic Forest so called because of the way in which you can ‘toboggan’ down the rock face there. Arriving at this daunting scene, the locals wasted no time in showing us how it was done and we spent a couple of hours sliding down the rock into the pool before.
We spent our last couple of days playing more games and drinking more Caiprihanas. However, we also visited a place called Trinidade with many renowned beaches most famous for its natural swimming pools. We ended up spending most of our time, however, on the lesser known beach due to its massive waves which we had fun playing in. These beaches are surrounded completely by jungle and we soon discovered that straying far from the path was a bad idea after stumbling across an actual tarantula as well as some kind of giant reptile that sprung at us from a hole in the ground. We quickly went home after this and had nightmares that night about the experience.
So it’s 11 days into our travels. Do we miss eating food that isn’t pasta?…yes. Do we miss the ordered way in which British people queue?…yes. And, most of all, do we miss my hair looking like it hasn’t just been permed (it’s the humidity!)?…yes. But so far our thoughts on Brazil are nothing but positive and we will miss it as we begin our travels into Argentina.
Next stop: Iguazu Falls