Sunday, 30 October 2011

The first bit of sunshine in Brazil. - Paraty

A 5 hour bus journey was all it took to shake off the 'I'm definitely getting robbed' paranoia that had been hanging over us like a nosey aunty for the duration of our stay in Rio. As it turned out, I think the threat of robbery is made far too much of in Rio and in South America in general. We met a resident of Rio who had never had any trouble in Rio for 24 years only to be robbed when she visited Edinburgh for three weeks during the festival. To be fair, Edinburgh's the only place I've ever been robbed and I'm more than happy to wander around with a camera, I-pod and wallet full of money hanging half out of my back pocket whenever I'm there so it just goes to show how shreekingly hysterical the  Lonely Planet can be and also how the fear of the unknown can manifest itself. Our arrival in Paraty was uneventful. It's a small town with the roughest cobbling I've ever experienced. There is honestly a very real chance that you could break your leg just walking on its quaint, Portuguese colonial avenues. Many of which have remained unchanged for over 250 years.

Paraty itself, unless you are WELL into Portuguese colonial architecture, can be walked around in about 45 minutes but the real draw, for us at least was the incredible excess of natural beauty that surrounds it. Islands just off the Costa Verde (Green Coast) poke out of the Emerald sea like rotten teeth and, when it stopped raining, the temperature  rose to a very pleasant 28-29C, with sea being maybe 6 or 7 degrees below that. Something we learnt the day after our arrival when we went out for a day on a boat stopping at various islands, beaches and snorkelling spots.

Spare a thought for a moment for poor Hernan and the captain of the boat who have to endure this almost every day of their lives. Moving sedately from white sandy beach to white sandy beach, snorkelling amongst the seahorses and brightly coloured fish and, on top of all this, generally being two of the handsomest men I've ever seen. They were literally swatting two of the ozzy girls we were sharing the boat with away like persistent flies for the duration of the trip. To the visible dismay of the guys they were with. We moved across the bay, stopping from time to time to dive off the boat or swim onto a postcard style beach like this one.

It was our first bit of total relaxation since we'd left, I was heard to remark on at least 3 or 4 occasions that 'this is what travelling is all about' after a while Emma began to point at me and snore every time it looked like I was shaping up to say it. But in my defence it really is. So, after a day of really having a lovely time of it we returned to the hostel and had a significant number of beers to celebrate. We had heard reports of a natural waterslide as well as a rope swing hidden deep under the jungle canopy a little outside Paraty town and were determined to check it out the next day.

I had visions of one largeish boulder smooth enough to slide down into a small pool of water. As it turned out that couldn't have been further from the truth, the photo here will give you an idea of the scale. The area you have to aim for at the bottom is a little small for completely reckless abandon like head first dives, unless you don't particularly value your skull, but we did hear reports of locals sliding down in a standing position. Which by all accounts is pretty impressive to watch!

The waterfall was fun, but all it did was whet our appetites for some ropeswinging. We set out, badly prepared, with no water and a map drawn in crayon to find it. We walked for some 6km all the while becoming more and more disillusioned, until finally, just in the nick of time we came across a promising looking turn off. We took it and marched a further 2km into the jungle following a well worn path until we arrived to the end of the path where the canopy opened up a little and presented a pool that belonged in Jurassic Park. Vines hung down as thick as cables and the noise of birds and insects was nearl deafening. Streams of sunlight broke unevenly through the trees in an uneven light show, dappling the pool and making it look even more appealing than it aleady was after a 3 hour trek. We didn't need to be told twice. We swang and leapt and sent the birds scattering out of the trees overhead with whoops of pure fun.

I was again heard to exclaim what was rapidly becoming a mantra for me here in Paraty 'this is what travelling is all about'. What a couple of good sets of funs we had. Everyone was grinning from ear to ear as we set off to try and flag one of the sporadic buses to Paraty town.

There was some drinking after that, due to alcohol being freely available but that doesn't make for such a good story unless something really awful happens, which is exactly what happened to one of the guys we were with during the day. A few beers down and he told us all about the time in Sheffield when he was visiting his friends. There had been an ongoing feud with a couple of locals in the area and the house he was at was egged. Being more than a little absolutely reeking on strong spirits he thought it would be a good idea to go out with his friends air rifle and scream threats at the now long gone assailants waving what to all intents and purposes looked like a real gun. He awoke a little later staring down the barrels of Armed Response's not insignificant arsenal and hauled off to jail. The thing that stopped him getting a 5 year mandatory sentence? The fact that the gun was springloaded and not air loaded. He was spared jail, but due to a strict policy of no fire arms offences among teachers he can no longer follow his chosen career path. Perhaps the most surprising and ironic facet of his punishment is that he can no longer legally enter the US! You may feel sorry for this gent, apparently the victim of his own drunkenness, but I don't think being drunk is necessarily what the made the difference. A couple of weeks later we saw him in a club in Bolivia and by way of a greeting he whipped his trousers down to reveal his newly pierced scrotum. Make your own minds up.

Next stop, one of the modern wonders of the world Iguassu Falls that straddles the border between Argentina and Brazil quite beautifully.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent blog, some of your descriptions are brilliant ''nosey aunty''. Phil