“The most beautiful in the world is, of course, the world itself.”
This time last year we were in Brazil. Actually, from 13th to 18th we were in Porto Alegre, southern Brazil … but I’m well behind time with my blog so will get to Porto in due course. Although I must say my writing has not been chronological … This visit to Paraty (Parrati) took place at the end of March 2017.
This is Paraty … pronounced Pa-raa-chi … a very cute town by the sea with so much character. It’s reminiscent of the colonial days. Cobbled streets and whitewashed buildings. I was drawn to it after long discussions with the lovely Vanessa, daughter of Eugenio, our friend in Brazil. As soon as I saw photos of this beauty of a place, I knew it had to find its way into our itinerary.
Paraty is on the East coast of Brazil, about half way between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
I didn’t really comprehend just how huge a country is Brazil. When we decided to make the trip our talks were about going to the Amazon forest, seeing the wild animals – in luxury of course, no camping or roughing it on the horizon – visiting other places of interest like Foz de Icaucu and Rio, layzing on beaches, taking day trips, and spending time with Eugenio and his family in the southern-most State of Brazil. I was soon brought down to earth by a conversation that went something like this …
“You do know that you can fit at least 35 or more of your little island of a country into my Brazil, don’t you? It’s a vast country, you’ll need to fly from one place to the next and internal airfares are astronomical”, he texted.
“Oh, I really don’t want to fly and miss seeing the country”, I replied, “I’ve been looking into hiring a car and driving”.
Initially no response.
Then came the response later : I’ve been talking to some of my students – his students are executives, well to do people, mostly professionals or business owners and their families. I agree with them … this is your first trip here, it’s not such a good idea for you to drive.
Huumpf! I pick up the phone to have a conversation.
I say: But I’ve read about people driving there for the first time on holiday … British and American … and they seem to do well. Granted, you drive on the wrong side of the road, your steering wheel is on the wrong side in the car, but we’ll manage. We’ll keep to the main highways. I’ve read about pousadas (homesteads) where we can stay overnight and it will break the journey between places. And we’ll get a local phone or phonecard to keep in touch with you.
He says: Yes, you’re right. But you don’t speak the language. The roads are not as in the UK. There are huge transporters on the roads all the time, the drivers are not as polite as I noticed in the UK. Our goods and produce are carried about the country by road – not by rail or air or water. The condition of some of the roads isn’t great – not all roads are maintained – potholes! You don’t get clean rest rooms on the highways as you do in the UK. Not only that … you’ve heard about people being held up at gunpoint and as a non-Portuguese speaking, obvious-stand-out-tourist, you’d be a target!
I say: I hear you. But you’ve started teaching me some Brazilian Portuguese words and phrases and I’ve bought a CD I’m playing in the car. I’m sure we’ll get by, and there’s always Google Translate! We are from Africa, you forget. We’re used to using the Bush for a toilet if needs be. Potholes? We have them too in the UK! As for transporters … the M25 motorway is their playground and I’m often playing dodge cars. I really don’t want to spend hours in airports, having to get there early then wait around for the flight, not see the beauty of the country, and have to do it all over again a few days later. Please can you let me have details of reputable car hire places.
He says: mutter mutter is what I heard … I really wasn’t listening by now … so talked about family and other things.
On an aside, I love Google Translate for so many different reasons. Google Translate was my best friend when talking with Eugenio’s wife and family, and other Brazilians as we travelled, including the hairstylists and girls at the beauty salon! It definitely helped me understand the language and communicate. I’ve added Google Translate to my menus on my blogs, cecilyswritings and this one, cecilystravels, so that anyone who visits my writings can choose whatever language they’d like to read. Okay I know my blogs are not read in all corners of the world! Actually, that’s not true … I did have a reader in Venezala, and have followers in the States, Africa, Brazil – thank you for following my blog to you and all followers.
Back to driving in Brazil.
Well, I get a message a few days later.
He says: You’ll be here in my country on my watch. I’ll not be happy or comfortable knowing that you’re driving around on your own. What if you have a breakdown. Mobile signal isn’t always great. It’s not safe. There are many long tunnels where gangsters are known to hang out (I’d read this but didn’t tell him I knew).
He said a lot more because our friend is quite the wordsmith … so this is but a summary.
Using psychology on me? Okay … yes. I concede. I see his point. I see my husband’s point too … he was in agreement with his mate! It is common sense, I guess.
I started looking at alternatives, spending hours on the web. I knew I didn’t want to waste time in airports. So, in the early hours of one morning, after more talks with the Brazilian, and a few more hours on the web, I sent a message to a travel agent with my precise requests.
Next day Imagine contacted me and the planning began. They were brilliant.
We would travel by road … we would not venture this time into the deepest, darkest, rain forests, but keep to the East coast. Our transport would be a mix of private hire and shared … we didn’t mind this at all … good to have companions. We still had to factor in some flights because time was not on our side if we wanted to do what we wanted to do.
So, Paraty here we come in an air conditioned luxury coach, with very friendly driver. We were collected from our hotel in Sao Paulo, The Capital Hotel, for the 4 hour journey. A pleasant journey. Some through built up and industrial type areas. Other times up and down winding, steep and narrow roads when I silently thanked Eugenio for his advice and wisdom, and persuading me not to attempt to drive ourselves! Many parts of the countryside reminded me of my home country, Zimbabwe. The countries are actually on the same latitude so I guess that’s not unusual. I can see why Eugenio settled here … but he had to learn the language. I am impressed by those who talk in different tongues.
We stopped en route at clean, friendly, welcoming services … to have refreshments and comfort breaks. They are obviously for the tourist industry and had we been travelling on our own, by road, I very much doubt that we would have found them!
What I loved about the companies whose coaches took us about, is that the drivers have to take regular breaks and their meals or snacks are provided at the service stops by their employer. We found out when we asked our driver to join us for a snack. Paulo, stopped along the way so we could take photos at some beauty spots. The journey was as I’d wanted … comfortable, air conditioned, sightseeing, chatty and not hanging around airports!
Weather fabulous and comfortable – 25-32 degrees.
I was extremely happy with the interary, planning and communication with Imagine. We found out later that one of Eugenio’s daughter-in-laws use to work for this travel company in the UK … small world!
We arrived in Paraty mid afternoon. The coach parked up on a side road. We were warned that it was an environmentally-friendly town with few cars permitted in the town. We had lots of luggage. My daughter spent 6 months travelling in South America with only a backpack to her name. A seasoned traveller, she’d packed only what she needed, carefully matching her outfits so that she did not have any excess.
Meanwhile my husband and I, between us, had 4 suitcases, and the inevitable hand luggage! Our holiday was of 3 weeks’ duration. Apart from my 6 pairs of shoes/sandals – of which I wore only 3 pairs whilst there – two of the cases were gifts for our friends. We managed to offload some in Sao Paulo but had to lug the rest with us. I’m not complaining … but had we kept to our original plan … southern Brazil first then up north … we would have travelled lighter! But, we wanted to spend Easter with Eugenio and his family as he would have a little more time then without eating too much into his working time.
Our luggage wheels on the cobbled streets of Paraty were not workable at all. Paulo, our driver, and Dhiru brought the luggage to our hotel, well it’s called a Pousada – homestead. A whitewashed building with blue and yellow painted woodwork – Pousada do Sandi.
A charming colonical guesthouse located in the historial centre of Paraty. Pousada do Sandi is within walking distance of famous landmarks and only a short boat ride from some of Brazil’s most spectaular deserted beaches.
We received a very warm welcome and we were shown to our rooms. A quaint place with so much atmosphere, clean and friendly. Great food. The restaurant is first class and renowned in the town for seafood dishes – just up my alley. We had an indoor lounging area, jacuzzi and sauna, sunbeds amongst cool foliage, and birds to keep us company.
Beautiful beaches. Beautiful waters.
Once settled we went exploring the small town. First to the travel agent recommended by both Imagine and the hotel to find out what and where we could go. We were not far from some beautiful white sandy beaches. Snorkelling in the clear waters was on offer. Trips out on boats.
Our days were spent discovering the history of the town, visiting the little shops and talking with the locals, eating good food and drinking caiparinhas whilst sunning ourselves.
We took a skooner out on a couple of days to spend on the beaches and stopped on the way to snorkle. No not me … I’m still learning to swim for the next trip! Glorious days. Glorious place.
The water is a magnificent blue, coloured by the bright sky with hardly a fluff of a cloud in sight (Hahaha except when I took the photos!). The green and colourful foliage on the islands as we drifted lazily by is relaxing.
The beaches are beautiful. ‘Deserted’ no – but not crowded at all. They are clean and the sand a pleasure to feel on my bare feet – cool to the touch towards the end of the day but very hot at midday.
We enjoyed the company of people from all walks of life, energetic and friendly. Oft times my daughter and I were regaled in Portuguese conversation … only to reply:
Eu não falo Português. Eu falo um pouco. Você fala Inglês? Or Manisha would say in Spanish: Yo hablo Español, hablo poco Portugués.
But her Spanish is much better than my Portuguese so she often spoken in Spanish which is understood.
Academy of Cooking and Other Pleasures
One evening Manisha and I joined a relaxed couple, gourmet chef Yara Castro Roberts and her photographer-turned-caiparinha-expert husband Richard. We were joined by 2 other ‘students’ at their home for “The Academy of Cooking and Other Pleasures”. We learnt about caiparinhas – their history and how to make them – and learnt to cook a Brazilian meal. Later we all sat around their dining table, chatting and sharing the meal we had made. I think it was called Farofa de dende and we had it with fish. A delightful evening in delightful company! Dhiru spent time tasting the beers, and delicasies, and talking with the locals back at our Pousada. Manisha and I found our way to ‘our home’ around 1:30 a.m. after taking one or two wrong turns on our walk back!
After three nights we left the laid back town to venture to an eco island, Ilha Grande. A road trip and a boat ride away. Paraty proved to be a great stop. Once again thanks to Vanessa who made the recommendation.
To end our stay, I had a fabulous suprise whilst at Pousada do Sandi in Paraty … which called for a celebration! I had a FaceTime call from my friends in the UK who were attending, on my behalf, the Award Ceremony for SMEs in Buckinghamshire. What great news to my ears – my company, Embrace HR, was nominated and won the Business of the Year 2017 Award for Buckinghamshire!
So ends our Parrati (Paraty) visit … with excitment … and ready for the next adventure.
Travelling to places near or far. This blog will trace our journeys, our travels. Will report the good and the not so good. Sharing photos and experiences that may be useful to you at some time in the future. Just saying … the posts may be written after the event! I would love you to accompany me from time to time on my travels to places near and far.
Please follow my blog at www.cecilyswritings.wordpress.com and look forward to hearing from you. Let me know if you have a travel blog I can follow too. This blog can be translated into any language.
Written by Cecily on 14th April 2018 and published on 15th April 2018
Copyright (C) Cecily Lalloo 2018
Visit took place on 23 March – 1 April 2017 – all photos were taken in 2017