Yearning for Brazil; Yarning about Paraty
5 hours of road trippin' and we touched down in Paraty.
Think fisherman's boats bobbing to the rhythm of the waves, think tiered mountain silhouettes stepping into the horizon, think vibrant forests hugging winding roads lining the bays, and you get an idea of the view that filled the minibus windows for almost all of the journey (which by the way, is a door to door service for about £25 if you're ever in Brazil). The hostel we arrived to maintained this picture-postcard setting, backing onto a river running through the heart of the town, decorated by arched bridges and boasting yet another mountain view - something which practically the whole of Latin America will spoil you with everywhere you turn. However, despite the aesthetic appeal, we found ourselves 3 of only 5 people staying there due to it being 'low season' - and as you've probably guessed if you've read 'Yarning about Rio', we had no idea. And no matter how great all our efforts, not being able to converse with the incredibly patient lady on the reception desk made it difficult entertaining what it was that the wonderful Paraty had to offer...
So we reassessed our accommodation over dinner. Yes it was pizza, no it wasn't intentional, yes we made fools of ourselves again. This time we'd got the ordering down, but found that we were without payment when it came to settling up, in the absence of fully functioning cash-cards. Continuing with the recurring theme of difficulty surrounding not being able to speak Portuguese, we realised that that meant we were restricted to our choice of bank - turns out foreign cash machines aren't all self-explanatory. So trying our luck in a second bank, where the machines were in English, we were sure to be without any hurdles. This time though, it transpired that our money request was too late in the day to be processed... A little odd but we accepted our fate and moved onto our next idea: cashback. Didn't work either. But I was now the owner some pretty, coloured underwear from the quest (essential, anyway). With all our attempts to no avail, our last resort was to boomerang to the hostel so we could pay off our debts and get out of there, doggy bag in tow. Entrusting Sarvi with the responsibilty of box carrier, our pizza leftover arms were short-lived; she dropped the box about 3ft from the restaurant door.
But debt free, refueled and ultimately better able to make decisions (albeit marginally), we opted to move to Leo's Clan Hostel having met Leo on the ride down by coincidence. Together with the rest of the Clan, we followed the sound of the drums and descended on one of the nearby hostels who were hosting the local salsa night in lieu of the weekly one held in the square. The atmosphere was electric; they are so passionate about their dance, it shines through their faces. And it's incredibly infectious. Meandering home we finally delved into some Brazilian cuisine - Feijao, a black bean stew.
Under Leo's recommendations, the next day we headed to Penha - a jungle haven of natural water pools and slides. Splashing around with the warmth of the sun hitting our faces was nothing short of blissful - blissful that is, until the peace was abruptly disrupted by a sudden heel-to-toe slide and rapid slam to the floor faster than I could blink, and without processing I was horizontal, whizzing down the slide without any conscious decision to do so. A slide by name, a slide by nature. Can confirm. It was our third time down, and we thought (having now ''mastered'' the slide) we'd take up the GoPro to document the ride down in this beautiful, earthly space. So it was to my great delight that, as Molly reached the bottom, almost gasping for breath from laughing so hard, I learned she'd caught the entire fall on camera. Third time isn't always a charm. That said, I standby my appreciation of the setting, and even if you don't fancy your chances at the apparent thrill sport to hand, go and see the place. It's truly Nature's treasure (from all angles).
The sight staring back at me in the mirror the next morning was an unexpected one. First sending me first into a state of confusion, then quickly morphing in mild panic... A rash all over my face. Flipping my head from left to right, running my fingers over the flat, dot-like redness, I hoped it was some sad Sharpie-prank by my friends. Bursting out the bathroom I instantly realised that that wasn't the case after exclaiming 'look at my face!', to which Molly retorted 'look at my
face'. Her face was also covered. Flustered, and turning our gaze to a rash-free Sarvi, we concluded that given she hadn't been paddling with us the previous day, the cause had to be the water. After that, we didn't really give it much further thought, expecting that the reaction would dissappear by itself, and we headed to Trindade beach (again as recommended by Leo, along with Sao, Gongala, Prainha and Praia do sono - if you find yourself in Paraty searching for a tranquil beach). It took about an hour on a public bus to drive to the sheltered bay, where the dominating mountain view looks like something out of Avatar; oddly shaped and covered in trees, with its tall, narrow form towering above the water. Praia de Trinidade was the perfect spot for beach bumming until a misty haze came down and filled the air so that even the sea was barely visible from where we were sat on the beach. The sun then consumed by cloud too, we called it a day. But not before a local craftsman on the beach had sold us some dream catcher hair ties (look how funky) and I'd got a sunglass reflection shot featuring our furry friend for the day.. Do you see him???
Anticipating that our reaction to whatever it was would dissapear by itself, waking to it having worsened the next day was a little disheartening, and Leo insisted on a hospital trip. Learning we'd both had an allergic reaction to mosquitos (not the water) and that we would need injections in our backsides, the comedy of the whole scenario took over. Dosed up, we exited the hospital in hysterics over the ordeal and with a boat tour of the islands setting sail imminently, we quickly contacted loved ones to fill them in before heading out.
Never before had I felt the drowsiness side effect that you're warned of with injections. Never that is, until this particular dosage led to us sleeping for 2 hours of the boat tour. Essentially, we went for a nap on the water. Lulled by the motion of the waves, we soaked up rays on the top deck together in slumber. So more of a sedation than a vaccination. Saving tip: don't buy a ticket for a boat tour if you're at risk of missing it, by being on it, but asleep on it. That said, you might surprise yourself and wake up for the second half, as we did. In which case I highly recommend the investment.
For obvious reasons, I cannot speak on behalf of the first half, but the second half was a dream: from cliff jumping in a cove, to paddle boarding, to anchoring out in the water watching the sun go down drinking Caipirinha's. The lowering sun created a panel of light which reflected across the glistening ocean, and coloured the sky golden as Reggaeton music echoed all around us from a beach bar on a nearby shore. Completely content, we docked in the port and wandered back to the hostel along with some new-found friends.
In hindsight, it was understandable that the rushed messages we'd sent explaining our mornings happenings sent boyfriends at home into panic. Nevermind the radio silence that followed as we sailed around blissfully unaware. Knowing ourselves that we were okay, it hadn't occured to us that in our flurry to leave, giving inelaborate details would raise alarm. Having no intention to do so, it was a tad on the surprising side when we hit WiFi and the missed calls and messages flooded in, with a thousand pings of our phones. Even Sarvi returned to questioning: 'are you with the rash twins?' - at least they'd kept their humour. But in fairness, we couldn't have predicted the assumption of their vivid imaginations - that we'd been taken hostage for torturing in the hospital like some kind of rogue, budget horror film (now we know). So although relieved we were okay, you can imagine how in our excited chatter around the fun day we'd actually been having instead, we weren't their biggest fans. But it did lead to the founding of their Facebook friendship... A lovely, magical introduction.
A final recommendation of Leo's for the last hurrah in Paraty (who by the way, I feel I should now state after this post that we recommend): a Thai restaurant along one of the quaint, notorious cobbled streets in the old town, over the bridge. We and our allergy-ridden faces enjoyed some delicious Pad Thai, washed down with cocktails before a return drive to Rio the following morning.