Party in Paraty

Trip Start Jun 04, 2009
Trip End Sep 06, 2010

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Flag of Brazil  , State of Rio de Janeiro,
Monday, June 8, 2009

Hi everyone,

We've been up to a lot since I was last able to write but now we’re on the move in the truck again and have a 15 hour day in transit so all that’s stopping me rambling on forever is the battery life of the laptop!

We left Rio on the Tucan tour about 3 days ago and went straight on to a little fishing village called Paraty, about 5 hours drive down the coast where we set up camp there for the next three nights. The campsite is right on a secluded beach so we’ve been treated to our own sunrises, sunsets and of course the stars in the southern hemisphere which we have never seen before showing themselves off in a beautiful setting.  Our tour group is a lot bigger than we were expecting, 35 people from all over the world with very helpful travel tips for where we’re heading next, everyone is getting along really well and there doesn’t seem to be anyone who is going to rub us up the wrong way…but then its only day 4 of 47!!   (My only concern is that the girls are far too pretty, skinny and young so you won’t see me with them in any photos!) We’ve got a driver, Suse and a tour leader, Nats, both are great and live absolutely insane lives.  They are 'off the grid’ in Australia where they grew up and have spent the last 10 years running tours in South America for half the year and Africa for the other 6 months.  I feel like we’re in good hands, there’s not much they haven’t seen before!  We’re gradually, very slowly, learning our Portuguese off of them but unfortunately picking up their Aussie accents too so there’s really no hope for us.

Paraty is a beautiful little village which a strange quirk, the town was designed so that when the tides come in the streets flood to wash the cobbles.  Hmmm a likely story made up by a poor architect if you ask me!  But it’s good fun to see the horse and carts slog through the streets when the cars don’t stand a chance.  On our first full day we went on a schooner boat trip out to some secluded beaches and did some jumping in the sea for some snorkeling.  Steve did some rather impressive somersaults off the side of the boat where as I just kind of fell in from the lower deck.  We had a barbeque on board and did some sunbathing while sampling lots of Brazils national drink the caiparinia (I’m sure that’s not spelt right – I’ve only just learnt how to pronounce it!).  It’s made with the local spirit cacha (again awful spelling), which is made from sugarcane, and mixed with a couple of squeezed limes, sugar and ice.  Considering it’s 38% and doesn’t have a mixer it’s pretty potent!  They were making it up by the bucketload on board the boat and just handing them round so we got to sample a fair amount and develop a liking for it – just needed to kill off a few taste buds initially.

One thing we defiantly underestimated was how good the food was going to be!  We have been eating like really greedy kings!!  Considering we are camping and making everything just at the side of the truck with basic equipment it’s hard to believe the quality of what we have had.  The whole tour had been divided up into 5 groups who are responsible for a different set of chores each day.  We were due to cook first and were a bit daunted at the thought of cooking for 35 people.  Nat’s had been to the local markets and bought back a feast for us to prepare, a HUGE barbeque with potato and pumpkin mash and giant stir fry.  It was awesome!  Here beef fillet costs less than buying chicken, apparently Brazil has one cow per person (fact!), so we had some of the best beef I’ve ever tasted in huge quantities.  On top of that we had ribs and chicken and all the side dishes until no one could eat another thing and there was still enough left to feed another ten people or more.  We thought that maybe this was just a treat for our first night but it’s just continued every meal time.  For breakfast we’ve has French toast, bacon, pancakes and of course loads of local fruit.  Passion fruit from the tree next to our tent, mango, bananas and a whole bunch of jungle fruits I’ve never heard of that are beautiful.  So we’re not going to be loosing weight anytime soon!  (And we’ve got good tea – phew!).

Last night we decided to give making our own capriania’s a try and bought all the necessary ingredients to make a bucket.  It cost about 3!  The spirit itself is so cheap and a kilo of limes cost 20p – no wonder it’s so popular.  We’re quite successful and knocked back a fair few glasses while the new cook group rustled up a seafood barbeque with local fish, prawns and calamari from the port in town.  This is pretty much as far away from what I expected as you can get, I thought we’d be roughing it on super noodles every night.

If you’re feeling a bit jealous though don’t worry it’s not all as wonderful as it sounds, there are insects a plenty.  We’ve both been munched a considerable amount and my legs in particular have been savaged!  The worst was when I was looking for a place around camp to hang up a washing line and as I was attaching it to a tree I looked down at my feet and couldn’t see them as I’d been swarmed by tiny red ants!  I kicked my flip flops off and just ran into the shower but still sustained a few bites from those evil creatures.

Ants aren’t the worst of our problems though; the banks are the most frustrating thing I have ever come across.  Everyone is suffering though so we know it’s not just us.  Yesterday we spent two hours trying to get money out but every time the machine comes up with a different error message.  It’s like a magic 8 ball ‘Card details invalid’ ‘communication problems’ ‘try again later’ ‘system problems’ and on and on and on.  Most frustrating is that it gets you right to the point when it should give you money but then none comes out so we have no idea what’s been going on.  Watching all the tourists trying all the different machines in the bank one by one and cheering if they manage to get money out is just like the slot machines!  In the end we were able to get some money from our credit cards which will have charged us ridiculous amounts but at least we have enough for our next big outing…

We’re on our way to Bonito at the moment and currently are stuck in a traffic jam going through Sao Paulo which will no doubt just extend our 15 hour day on the road.  We had an early start and had to have our tents packed away before 5.30am (as its winter here the daylight hours are a lot shorter than at home so it was pitch black).  It’s going to be two long drive days to get there and tonight we will just be pulling over at the side of the road and pitching tents for the night, spooky!  Of course to cover such distances we don’t have time to make many toilet stops so we’ve been told to expect ‘bush stops’ which means men one side of the bus and women on the other, everyone armed with trowels – do your business and get back on the truck!  I just can’t wait for our first one – or perhaps I’ll just keep my legs crossed!!

In Bonito we’re blowing our budget and going into the Abismo caves.  They were featured in the Planet Earth series and are supposed to be unmissable.  We’ll be rappelling (abseiling without a wall) down 70 meters to the cave bottom and then snorkeling amongst stalagmites and stalagmites and all the crazy fish and things that live down there.  I’m sure the bus ride will be worth it but anyone else who has seen the film The Descent will know why I’m a little apprehensive too! 

Lots more to come, tune in soon to see if our hero’s escape the cave in one piece…  

Lot’s of love,

Amy and Somersaulting Steve
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