After deciding to skip the mega city and mayhem of Sao Paulo, we sought a more laid back Brazil and headed to Paraty, back on the coast. Paraty had been recommended to us by my Aunty, and it turned out to be a very good recommendation for us – just what we were looking for: somewhere peaceful, charming, quaint, laid-back and friendly, away from the crowds of the huge cities. After a year now of travelling, we had long since learnt what we liked and disliked, and the hustle and bustle of crazy busy cities is not high up there on our ‘like’ list.
Anyway, back to Paraty. It was easy enough to find accommodation – every other building was a pousada (or guesthouse) and although the guide book had warned us over and over it was peak season and that we should book ahead, there really was no need as there were plenty of vacancies. And so after dumping our things, we headed straight back out to explore the area.
Cobblestone roads, horse-drawn carts and friendly locals, this was a great place to continue our ‘winding down’ after nearly 365 days of travelling. We passed the time wandering the streets, soaking up the atmosphere, drinking fresh coconut juices, eating ice-cream and strolling along the beach. In other words we took it easy!
By now in Brazil, the famous carnival was fast approaching, and warm-up events in Paraty were beginning. Their main plaza was kitted out with a large stage and platform for the pre-party shows. We were lucky enough to catch the first night of their celebrations, with a very Brazilian band singing and playing instruments. Maybe I was too tired to appreciate the music, but sorry Brazil, I found that the people watching was much more entertaining! Take for instance the drunk drinks seller (I think he must have been drinking his own drinks), who was jibbering away to himself and to anyone who would listen, rather than trying to sell any drinks. I watched as potential customers approached him to buy a bottle of water or a can of beer, and how when they offered the money he refused to take it, leaving customers walking away with a free drink, looking happy, if not a little confused. How he made any money that night I do not know.
We spent a pleasant two nights in Paraty before catching a bus to Rio de Janeiro , just 4.5 hours away. It was a dizzy journey along a winding hilly coast road, but the views were gorgeous. I could see how it would be possible to spend a lot of time in the area experiencing all that was on offer – beach after beach, in addition to verdant countryside boasting opportunities for walking and wildlife spotting. But we had enjoyed plenty of that this last year in other countries, and as we headed towards Rio de Janeiro we realised that we were on our final bus journey, and were finally heading home.