A Travellerspoint blog

Paraty

A gem within Brazil

rain 33 °C
View South America on winmouse's travel map.

These past two days have soared by. We spent yesterday on a 4X4 jeep through the Brazilian jungles. We had 2 lads from Holland and 1 lady from New York (originally Japan) on our tour with 4 Brazilians.
Our first stop was a great waterfall that was surprisingly warm, once you got used to the water. We were enjoying the scenery when one of the tourists from another jeep fell on the rocks and split his head open. It was an ugly scene to start but the guy turned out to be okay. Darwin and I immediately dove to our pack and pulled out water and aspirin to help the gentleman. Even though Darwin does not swim, he was hopping over the rocks to help the guy within minutes. What was surprising is the guides did not have first aid kits with them in the event of an emergency. (no liability laws in brazil – what happens to you is your fault)
Off to our next stop, a small fisherman style village that had a cachaca museum. This is the local sugar cane hooch (43% alcohol that tastes like donkey piss according to Darwin being from Drumheller and an old horse guy he knows this).
After this we went to another swimming hole for lunch. This restaurant reminded us of Costa Rica. It was very peaceful with all the beautiful birds of paradise and hibiscus. At one point, Darwin was sitting on a rock in la la land. I was talking to the guys from Holland and they asked me if Darwin meditates. I replied “not normally” and then turned around and saw him sitting atop a rock about 30 metres away staring at the water. I called his name and then splashed water at him but no reply. I laughed to the boys from Holland and said he doesn’t normally answer my calls to him, so they even tried getting his attention. No luck. Then one of the Brazilian guys yelled out “yoda” and Darwin still didn’t answer. After a few moments he looked at me and everyone started to laugh. I asked where he was and he did the Namaste pose and the group howled. We had our own Buddha monk with us. Everyone was howling by this time – including Darwin like he hadn’t laughed for years.
The countryside certainly reminds us of Costa Rica. The lush green forests and the smell of fresh flowers everywhere. We also saw alot of beautiful butterflies in all colours (thinking of you Monica), but they flew away too fast to capture photos of them.
After lunch we were off to another waterfall. I was feeling sleepy after a glass of wine and some strudel but when I saw the natural waterslide, things changed immediately. Off went the shorts and I went up this steep passage to the top of this giant natural waterslide. Darwin was surprised I was going to test the currents, but the old mermaid in me awoke and off I went. It was tough walking across the rocks toward the area you slide down, but our guide noticed me struggling and immediately came to my rescue. In his broken English he asked if I could swim and I said “si” and then he pushed me down the rock. Up go my hands like riding a roller coaster and then within seconds, I’ve splashed into this current pool trying to find a rock to help support me as I gasp for air. The adrenaline is just running after that adventure. I was trying to say to my fellow jeep passengers, that was fun, but did not know how to say this in Portuguese. So I looked up our Portuguese phrase book and found ´”muito divertise” (very fun). I tried to say it a few times and then our guide and group finally understood me and gave me the thumbs up and started to laugh.
This was great fun. Trying something new and also trying to communicate with local Brazilians at the same time. Dar caught me on the video and we’ll try to post it somewhere. For Darwin and I, this is what our trip is all about. New people. New experiences.
Before we arrived at this waterfall, it had started to rain quite heavily at the restaurant. What is amazing in the rain forest, is to see just how quickly the rain concentrates and raises the stream level very quickly. The rock that I used to get out of the current pool, was no longer visible within 20 minutes and the waterflow down the rockslide increased threefold within the same time period. What can be fun one minute, becomes dangerous within minutes. Don’t mess with mother nature.
We then went to another waterfall. The group was getting tired and thought the tour was over, but our guide was having fun, so took us to one of his favourite hang out spots. We hiked for minutes through some thick bush and at times Darwin and I were thinking back to Costa Rica and the poisonous snake areas (we later found out the area is full of snakes). So we arrive at this murky water area and wonder what we are doing here. Our guide says “wait a momento” and off he goes. Within minutes he is swinging from a tree rope and dives into the plunge pool below. Everyone applaudes and cheers. One of the Holland boys (Ralph) takes off his shoes and immediately climbs up the path towards the guide. He then tests out the rope and successfully lands. Darwin looks at me and says “Mouse you have to do this- the boys can’t be the only ones” This reminded me of my lake days in Ontario but 25 years ago. The guide shouts down to anyone else who wants to join in. Everyone is shaking their heads no but after some coaxing from Darwin, I take off my shorts and shoes and climb up the path. The guide demonstrates how the rope works but I jump off the landing and fall into the water, instead of easily gliding and then jumping. So I hit the water hard but need to try again. The rocks are extremely slippery but our guide helps me back to the landing perch. My second attempt is much more successful and Darwin is happy to see me swim back to the shore. The Brazilian group are laughing with me and once again I try to pronounce “ muito divertise”.They all laugh and say it for me.
Again, learning to communicate with the locals is what makes this trip so fun.
We got back to our pousado and found out that one of the couples on our tour was in the room next us. Life is too funny sometimes.
We cleaned up and headed off to Porto Restaurant. Lonely planet informs us this has been rated by Conde Naste Traveller magazine as one of the top 100 new restaurants in the world. So off we went, hungry stomachs intact. This place did not disappoint. I had a fish grilled in citrus fruits with a leek risotto and Darwin had fish grilled in a Mediterranean cream sauce. Kim/Kev my fish ranks up with the San Jose Macadamia nut fish dinner we had in Costa Rica. This was an outstanding meal (3 water, bottle of Malbec rated 91 in Wine Spectator, salad, fish dinners for $125USD). This place will definitely go on our top 10 dinner locations.
Back to the pousado in time for some heavy rains. We put on the TV, but decided to listen to the rainstorm and both fell asleep within minutes. A very enjoyable and exhausting day.

December 28

Happy Birthday Karen. You and Jeff would love it here.
We had planned to check out the beaches in Trindade (rated in Conde Naste Traveller as some great beaches), but my ear was plugged from yesterdays adventures and the weather was overcast. So we toured around town with camera in tow and took some cool pictures of the area. As Darwin predicted, it started to rain around 2:00, so we spent the afternoon dodging the rain and finding spots to have a drink in between down pours. I have a great photo of Darwin grabbing a cerveja (beer) at a small cafe, waiting for the rain to stop. Darwin and I went to opposite sides of the street and were stranded from each other. He would not move so I had to run across the cobblestone flooded street, while he stood there drinking his cerveja. ( sound like a romantic novel!.....not).
We then stopped at La Terra Banana (another lonely planet rated restaurant). The tables were booked so we went to the lounge to have a drink. Darwin was not ready to give up on the local rum brewing, so we tried a Capihirian. After tasting it, Darwin actually swore he would never drink this again (can you believe he has given up drinking Rum). Even though it was better than the raw stuff we tasted yesterday, it still was disgusting and very potent.
The rains lightened up a bit, so we headed back towards our pousado. This did not last more than 10 minutes and then it picked up again. We were walking by a local pastry shop so went inside and bought some local pastries (banana buns, sweet bread, sugar topped buns). We crossed the street to a jewellery store and Darwin insisted a funky local piece of jewellery. He told me Jake would be disappointed if I did not by something. I informed him that I think Jake would “kill” me if I bought something from this store. So after some great laughter and stubbornness on my part, I finally conceded and Darwin bought me a necklace and bangle. It’s a brightly coloured piece of resin that looks like Survivors “immunity idol”. When we checked out, we found out this boutique jewellery store has locations in New York, Sau Paulo, Rio De Janiero and Hamburg. Who knows, I may own a new trendy look.
The rain was not letting up, so we crossed the street to a restaurant to have a drink, hoping the rains would subside. The young gentleman at the door asked if he could take our umbrella (we had to buy one as the rain was so heavy you could not see down the street...kim/kev similar to Buenos Aires but lasted much longer). We were surprised by his clear English as most folks here speak minimal English. We asked if we could stop for a drink, and the manager said “come on in”. After ordering our drinks, we learned that Fernando and his son Lucas are from NYC. Fernando lived there for 25 years, and Lucas was born in NYC. We had a great afternoon chatting with them. Unfortunately Fernando was one of the US Homeland Security purges and was deported back to Brazil 2 years ago after living and actively working in NYC for 25 years. It was sad to hear his story of being separated from his family at 6:30 one morning and taking more than 2 years, to finally see his sons again. (Kim this pousado was gorgeous Pousado do Sandi, one of the top locations in Paraty (start around $200USD/night) http://www.pousadadosandi.com.br/)
The rain FINALLY lifted enough that we could make our way back to the pousado. We cracked open our pastries and dug in. The banana buns are DELICIOUS. A dinner bun with roasted bananas/cinnamon in top. I will be looking for these again. Darwin dug into the buns with sugar on top and after spreading some butter on it, it reminded him of going to the Diana restaurant with Alf as a young boy for hot chocolate and sugar donuts with butter.
We are off to Rio de Janeiro tomorrow and getting ready for Revellion 2009. Talk to you soon.

Posted by winmouse 14:51 Archived in Brazil Comments (1)

Boxing Day - Paraty

overcast 31 °C
View South America on winmouse's travel map.

Got up early this morning to pack and catch our 10:00 ferry back to Angra dos Reis. Rudolfo arranged a driver for us at the ferry port and then we had an hour drive to Paraty and were dropped off at our pousado Aconchego (cost for ferry/transfer was $80 Real/person or $40 USD) which we thought was reasonable considering the cobblestone roads we would have had to manoeuvre with our wheely luggage from the bus stations). This is a very quaint pousado – first class accommodations compared to Ilha Grande. We have a swimming pool and a sitting area in our room. We feel like we just arrived in luxury. Kim this is definitely a good recommendation for clients (www.aconchegohotel.com.br)
We toured around this 16th Century Colonial Town and found Paraty Cafe where we both wolfed down old fashioned hamburgers. We were both hungry and the burgers were great. This is quaint little town that we are going to enjoy. Checked out a local liquor store and stalked up on some beverages for our room. The owner knew some English and was thrilled to hear we were Canadians. He asked a stock boy to deliver our goods to our pousado (now that’s service). We went through our Lonely Planet pages with him and he confirmed some good dining options for us and also suggested a few others for us to try.
We found Paraty Tours and booked a transfer back to our hotel in Rio de Janeiro on December 29th (Kim $125 Real/person or $60USD each) We also booked a jeep tour tomorrow to some waterfalls and general area scenery which should be fun.
We spent the remainder of the afternoon poolside. Darwin has spent 3 hours loading some photos and these blogs to our site while I finally opened up my book and read beside the pool drinking pina coladas. Life is good. It’s getting dark now, so we are getting changed and heading of to a local restaurant recommended by our liquor store owner. Hope you enjoy the updated blog posts.
Ciao Ciao

Posted by winmouse 13:54 Archived in Brazil Comments (1)

Christmas Day - Ilha Grande

overcast 32 °C
View South America on winmouse's travel map.

Merry Christmas everyone. We woke up to some MAJOR burns on our back from snorkelling the day before. So we decided to keep a low profile for the day out of the sun. Rudolfo, our tour guide met us at 10:00 so we could pay for our transfer and pousado in Paraty. We asked him about internet access on Christmas Day. He gave us the password for his business and said we were welcome to sit on his step and connect to the internet. So we made a few facebook postings and connected vis skype to a few of you (great chatting with you Jake/Kim/Kev/Kerrs/mom). We tried to upload photos to this blog but we couldn’t log in.
Went back for a walk around our neighbourhood and then back to the room to cool off (very very humid day) . Darwin turned on the TV and put on closed captioning so we could try and follow the stories. Well he tuned into a daytime soap and couldn’t understand a damn thing, so we made up our lines. Darwin was Raphael and Michelle was Christina. We haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. It was a hoot. You should try it sometime to French/Spanish TV at home. Takes on a whole new meaning to watch these foreign language channels.
We wanted to be on the beach for Christmas dinner, so left early to catch a table. We had a great location and enjoyed a bottle of wine and some fish and filet mignon (well not really but they tried hard). Hey...we are in Brazil on a beach for Christmas and it was a great way to spend a day.

Posted by winmouse 13:29 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Ilha Grande

The "Pretty" Big Island - Tofino 20 years ago

sunny 32 °C
View South America on winmouse's travel map.

Ilha Grande – Island Tour
What a way to spend Christmas Eve – sunny skies, blue waters, speed boat and five great snorkelling and beach adventures. That basically sums up our day. We toured the island on a catamaran with 13 Brazilians and us Canucks. The folks on the boat were so friendly trying to help us interpret our guide, from ordering our lunch, to telling us how long we had at a particular island. However, the most useful tip was at our first stop. We were walking up a path towards this great cliff to jump off the rocks and started going the wrong way. Our guide saw us taking the wrong turn and the fellow passengers started shouting at us. I had started to scramble across the face of one rock and Darwin had to slowly guide me backwards before I ended up face planting on the rocks below. That was a good way to get the adrenaline flowing at the start of the day. We managed back okay and found the right path and enjoyed the beautiful view from above.
Darwin was a trooper snorkelling today. He started to find his groove a few times and then would try swallowing the ocean by turning his head too far in a particular direction and find his snorkel under water whilst trying to breathe....not a good idea. In fact, the manoeuvre was breathtaking (ha ha).
The places we visited are as follows going in clockwise direction around the island, for those of you trying to follow us on google earth:
Started at Abraao (main port on the island)
Caxadaco was our first stop (the rock climbing adventure but a beautiful lagoon if you ever make it this way.)
Dos Rios was our next stop, a beautiful beach that had a small church and a fresh water stream that emptied to the ocean.
Parnaioca was our next stop. This was a beautiful location that had a few beach front bars (two huts with a cooler with beer@ $1.50 USD) and is a popular hike on the island. Mind you it’s much easier to go on a boat cruise like us than walk 8 hours to get to this location. It certainly was pretty but not earth shattering. Darwin was getting pretty comfortable in the water and decided to dive off the boat. Once he surfaced I noticed his sunglasses were missing. After a few minutes I located them and dove down to the bottom to retrieve them for him (ok it was only 8 feet, but sounded better without giving you the depth).
Meros was our next stop known for the good diving of this species of fish. Darwin had a great snorkelling adventure here. Once again beautiful turquoise waters.
We checked out Lagoa Verde (green lagoon) for the sea turtles and then headed to Praia de Longa to feed some fish. This was a hoot. These little guys jump right out of the water to get a piece of cracker. So I jumped in and tried it myself. It was neat. What is cool about this place is the floating bar in the middle of this little bay. Darwin and I wanted to stop and check it out but the boat didn’t stop there. We joked if we came back with Darcy and Bill, this would be a definite stop.
We then ordered lunch from the boat and headed to another beach for lunch but can’t remember the name. It was cool to have Christmas eve lunch on the beach, but the food was not memorable. Then stopped at blue Lagoon for a quick dip and then back to Abraao. We left at 09:30 and returned at 19:00. The guide who arranged our tour was waiting at the dock for us as he was trying to arrange a sail for us on December 26 to Paraty.. He left his family Christmas Eve dinner to inform us this would not work but he did find us a Pousado to stay while visiting Paraty. So we will meet up with him tomorrow morning to make final arrangements. Talk about great service. For anyone travelling to this area, the manager (Rudolfo) of the Sudoeste SW Tourismo office (www.sudoestesw.com.br) is exceptional. He has provided us with restaurant recommendations, tour ideas, fin rentals, accommodations in Paraty and speaks excellent English. This guy knows the service industry.
So now for all you youngsters who might be reading (or the young at heart) please know that here they have Parrot Mountain. This is a disguised name. For in fact this is Mount Crumpet – South. When you see the pictures posted you will note that Max the dog would have a much tougher time holding the Grinch`s sleigh on the leaves of the trees than the hard ice of the real Mount Crumpet. Nevertheless the people of Abraao have found what their solution is to keep the Grinch at Bay is to not sleep on Christmas Eve. Undoubtedly the Grinch will find another community or several to find children who have not been nice at Christmas (you can take the snow and ice away from Darwin during Christmas, but not the Grinch spirit as he has always been afraid of green monsters).
We are now back at our room and we are both feeling the sunburns today. We decided to have dinner at 21:00 but all the restaurants are closing early tonight. So we found a dessert stand and bought two plates of lemon meringue pie and we still have a bag of chips back at our room. What a yummy dinner this will be. Lorraine, we are thinking of your great Christmas Eve dinner tonight and wishing we were there. But hey we can’t complain about a great day.
Merry Christmas Eve everyone. We hope to find internet tomorrow so we can post some of this information and a few photos for you to enjoy.

Posted by winmouse 13:25 Archived in Brazil Comments (1)

Ilha Grande

The "Pretty" Big Island - Tofino 20 years ago

sunny 32 °C
View South America on winmouse's travel map.

Ilha Grande – Island Tour
What a way to spend Christmas Eve – sunny skies, blue waters, speed boat and five great snorkelling and beach adventures. That basically sums up our day. We toured the island on a catamaran with 13 Brazilians and us Canucks. The folks on the boat were so friendly trying to help us interpret our guide, from ordering our lunch, to telling us how long we had at a particular island. However, the most useful tip was at our first stop. We were walking up a path towards this great cliff to jump off the rocks and started going the wrong way. Our guide saw us taking the wrong turn and the fellow passengers started shouting at us. I had started to scramble across the face of one rock and Darwin had to slowly guide me backwards before I ended up face planting on the rocks below. That was a good way to get the adrenaline flowing at the start of the day. We managed back okay and found the right path and enjoyed the beautiful view from above.
Darwin was a trooper snorkelling today. He started to find his groove a few times and then would try swallowing the ocean by turning his head too far in a particular direction and find his snorkel under water whilst trying to breathe....not a good idea. In fact, the manoeuvre was breathtaking (ha ha).
The places we visited are as follows going in clockwise direction around the island, for those of you trying to follow us on google earth:
Started at Abraao (main port on the island)
Caxadaco was our first stop (the rock climbing adventure but a beautiful lagoon if you ever make it this way.)
Dos Rios was our next stop, a beautiful beach that had a small church and a fresh water stream that emptied to the ocean.
Parnaioca was our next stop. This was a beautiful location that had a few beach front bars (two huts with a cooler with beer@ $1.50 USD) and is a popular hike on the island. Mind you it’s much easier to go on a boat cruise like us than walk 8 hours to get to this location. It certainly was pretty but not earth shattering. Darwin was getting pretty comfortable in the water and decided to dive off the boat. Once he surfaced I noticed his sunglasses were missing. After a few minutes I located them and dove down to the bottom to retrieve them for him (ok it was only 8 feet, but sounded better without giving you the depth).
Meros was our next stop known for the good diving of this species of fish. Darwin had a great snorkelling adventure here. Once again beautiful turquoise waters.
We checked out Lagoa Verde (green lagoon) for the sea turtles and then headed to Praia de Longa to feed some fish. This was a hoot. These little guys jump right out of the water to get a piece of cracker. So I jumped in and tried it myself. It was neat. What is cool about this place is the floating bar in the middle of this little bay. Darwin and I wanted to stop and check it out but the boat didn’t stop there. We joked if we came back with Darcy and Bill, this would be a definite stop.
We then ordered lunch from the boat and headed to another beach for lunch but can’t remember the name. It was cool to have Christmas eve lunch on the beach, but the food was not memorable. Then stopped at blue Lagoon for a quick dip and then back to Abraao. We left at 09:30 and returned at 19:00. The guide who arranged our tour was waiting at the dock for us as he was trying to arrange a sail for us on December 26 to Paraty.. He left his family Christmas Eve dinner to inform us this would not work but he did find us a Pousado to stay while visiting Paraty. So we will meet up with him tomorrow morning to make final arrangements. Talk about great service. For anyone travelling to this area, the manager (Rudolfo) of the Sudoeste SW Tourismo office (www.sudoestesw.com.br) is exceptional. He has provided us with restaurant recommendations, tour ideas, fin rentals, accommodations in Paraty and speaks excellent English. This guy knows the service industry.
So now for all you youngsters who might be reading (or the young at heart) please know that here they have Parrot Mountain. This is a disguised name. For in fact this is Mount Crumpet – South. When you see the pictures posted you will note that Max the dog would have a much tougher time holding the Grinch`s sleigh on the leaves of the trees than the hard ice of the real Mount Crumpet. Nevertheless the people of Abraao have found what their solution is to keep the Grinch at Bay is to not sleep on Christmas Eve. Undoubtedly the Grinch will find another community or several to find children who have not been nice at Christmas (you can take the snow and ice away from Darwin during Christmas, but not the Grinch spirit as he has always been afraid of green monsters).
We are now back at our room and we are both feeling the sunburns today. We decided to have dinner at 21:00 but all the restaurants are closing early tonight. So we found a dessert stand and bought two plates of lemon meringue pie and we still have a bag of chips back at our room. What a yummy dinner this will be. Lorraine, we are thinking of your great Christmas Eve dinner tonight and wishing we were there. But hey we can’t complain about a great day.
Merry Christmas Eve everyone. We hope to find internet tomorrow so we can post some of this information and a few photos for you to enjoy.

Posted by winmouse 13:25 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

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