(Only one letter away from "party"! ;) )
25.03.2013 - 29.03.2013 28 °C
As arraial do cabo is three hours north of Rio and Paraty is four and a half hours south of Rio, we had a full day of traveling ahead of us. Had there been a direct bus we might have considered going overnight, but as there wasn't (and we didn't want to spend a couple of hours at the bus station in the middle of the night) AND we were kind of looking forward to lounging on a bus all day (hey, we've been lounging on the beach these past days - time for a change of scenery haha) we left arraial do cabo after breakfast and got to Paraty at about 8pm.
Paraty is a well-visited and well-known town/city right on the coast of Brazil. The area surrounding it is quite hilly and the coast itself is winding with lots of little inlets, outlets, lagoons and islands, making the ocean incredibly calm. A local told us with a smile that there are "never any waves". Oh, and did I mention the widespread mangrove forests lining the whole coastal area including a lot of the islands? That's the other half of the reason for the ocean being so still
So no chance for surfing, but lots of kayaking available! We went out for a couple of hours and had an amazing day. The kayaks were incredibly lightweight, being short and basically all "open". We were glad we hadn't dared bring our cameras as they surely would've gotten wet! Sadly, though, this means we will only remember the excursion the old fashioned way. Oh well
Although the lightness of the kayaks made them a bit unstable, it also made for zipping through the water at what felt like hardly any effort. Oh, I love kayaking so much!
A setback for the day was the fact that the tide was extremely high. This meant that several of the sights we were going to se, such as a beach, a "mud beach", and some lovely natural rock pools were flooded and therefore non-sight-see-able. Our guide asked us if we were up to taking an extra long paddling tour around some islands instead and our answer was a given yes. First though, we paddled through the mangrove forest, having to weave through the branches and duck every so often because of the high tide bringing us a lot closer to the trees than normal. Still, it was an amazing sight and I'm so happy we got to do that! One really weird and cool sight was hundreds of crabs (quite big) scurrying up and down the tree trunks and branches. I don't really understand the point of crabs climbing trees but I guess there must be one except from falling into the kayaks of certain tourists and making them freak out a little bit. Or maybe they just have a warped sense of humor :P
The next day it was still cloudy and somewhat rainy, so after lunch (at the amazing turkish place aaahh best falafel EVER) we rented bikes, got directions from the hostel-owner Pablo (great guy, more about the hostel later) and biked up half a mountain (that was a surprise, Pablo's directions didn't include us sweating our butts of but still, it was a refreshing surprise) to get to Penha - a waterfall that is more like a water"run" - a river flowing over a great big gently curving rock into a small but deep lagoon. The result? Nature's best water slide!! Omg, we had so much fun! Once we dared go down the rock that is. Quite high up, both thrilling and scary and very much uncontrollable once you've started sliding, we were happy that there was a guy there who had obvious knowledge of the whole spot and could show us exactly where to start and what to do as well as both reassure us that it was safe as well as slide ahead to show us that it was indeed safe.
As it turns out, sliding down a waterfall is a glorious way to spend a rainy day!
Our last full day in Paraty dawned bright, warm and clear! I was poked awake early (7:30 am is now considered early) by little rays of light slipping through the drapes into our dorm room and was instantly wide awake. Nothing left to do but go out to the porch for some reading in a hammock in the morning sun, oh well
At about nine we all settled down for breakfast (such an amazing breakfast!) and immediately asked Pablo about going on a boat trip that same day (this is one of the most common, most recommended tourist attractions in Paraty). He immediately made a phone call and then all that was left for us to do was to make it to the dock by 11 ! (Did I say Pablo is a great guy?)
That day was the best one yet, which says something about the absolute perfectness of it. Our boat was large; it consisted of a main deck with a mattress-covered lounging area and a small bar, a lower deck with a kitchen (meals were offered from the bar as well as drinks) and bathrooms (the only reason I know that there was also a kitchen down there), as well as an upper, unshaded/unroofed deck with large retractable chairs and could hold 40 passengers (excluding the staff). Oh, and a guy sang and played the guitar for our enjoyment all day as well. A piece of heaven for US$20 (yes everything, all day) - incredible.
It was glorious. Absolutely perfect. Lying/ sitting on the upper deck in the sun or somewhat shaded on the main deck, seeing the beautifully stunning mountainous coastline and islands drift by, gently rocked by the boat, listening to live music and all the while surrounded by the turquoise, glittering loveliness of water that is the Atlantic Ocean. Did I say something about heaven? I meant it.
The trip lasted all day, varying between sailing along and making 45-60 min stops at varying beaches so we could have a chance to swim (jumping from the boat! So much fun!). It all ended with a stunning sunset over that same beautiful landscape while on our way back to Paraty. Glorious.
Well, I promised to tell you about Pablo and his homey, wonderful hostel complete with a garden area, hammocks and a puppy to play with, but I'm starting to think that you probably get the point already. Let me just say I would (and have) recommend it to everyone and anyone -it is worth going to Paraty just to stay there. We loved it!
I'm so happy we went to Paraty. We had an amazing stay even though it is a beach town and we almost only had rain. I love our life