Trip Start Jun 09, 2008
9Trip End Aug 12, 2008
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Our first day in Paraty we had dinner in a restaurant featuring Bahian food (from north eastern Brazil) - it boasted New York Times reviews on its windows, and it was almost as good as it looked. There was live jazz in the restaurant, and the fish was very fresh, and the sauces unusual. Sarah had a type of fish called vermelho with a star fruit pineapple sauce, and I had a fishier fish called robalo, in a moqueca (red palm oil and coconut milk sauce) with pirao (a thick yellow fish and yucca sauce)
The pousada (our hotel, the Villas) had a pool, gym, library, and a little courtyard outside our room with passion fruit growing on a vine, and butterflies fluttering through trees resembling overgrown pointsettas. The ceilings were high, and it was a great place to stay, especially for Michel and Babi since there was a playground for their kids, Bene and Sofia, and a little kitchen. Prices were surprisingly high - it seems that with the fall of the dollar and the rise of the Brazilian Real, Americans are no longer living like kings in Brazil. Even the prices in the supermarkets are comparable to New York. For imported food, prices are astronomical - around $30 a pound for pistachios, for example.
When we woke up the next day, we drove with Michel and his family to a fishing town about 30km north where we took a small boat to an island in the Angra dos Reis bay. This area is so rich that the private airport, which can already accomodate 50 jets and a fleet of helicopters is completely packed. We read in Veja magazine (Brazil's equivalent of Time) that there are approximately 200 new Brazilian millionaires every day
Back in Paraty we ate at another excellent restaurant, this time sitting at a table in the middle of one of the cobblestone streets in the historic center. On Sunday, we finally checked out the area during daylight, and ate lunch while watching the filming of a movie, set in the 1800's around the time of Brazil's independence. We spoke with some of the crew and found out it was a big production for Brazilian standards. Although Paraty made a good backdrop they built a number of sets, and did such a good job that we didn't realize we were walking on a set until we knocked on stones only to realize they were made of painted wood. After lunch, we caught a bus to Sao Paulo.
With traffic, the trip ended up taking almost 7 hours, but the scenery again was amazing. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, followed by A Date With Ted Hamilton (I'm not sure if that's the right title in English) played on the TV's on the bus. Sarah slept most of the trip, valiantly fighting off car sickness as we wound through the mountains up to the plataeu that surrounds the megapolis of Sao Paulo. When she woke up, we took off our headsets and made up words for the characters in the horrible "Ted Hamilton" movie. It was one of those formulaic Hollywood movies where you could tell exactly what the characters were saying without reading lips. Once we started to see the big buildings of Sao Paulo, we still had two hours to go before we penetrated half way into the city to the bus station. Sao Paulo has suffered from 'conurbanization' - that is, it has swallowed every city around it to the point where it takes up 1500 square kilometers. It has the largest population of any city in the western hemisphere. Lucky for us, Michel and Babi are letting us stay in their beautiful apartment in the very Manhattan-esque Jardins neighborhood, and since they're here the big city is worth visiting.