I found my hostel in Paraty after reading several blogs. Leo’s Clan Hostel, located right across the bridge from the historic center and only three blocks front the beach, seemed like the perfect spot to enjoy paradise. When I arrived, the staff was super friendly, there was a lovely and clean rooftop pool, and a sweet hostel dog. Even the relatively cramped nine-person room couldn’t rain on my parade of loving the place.
I came back to the hostel after a night of listening to live music in the center. I had noticed that there was a sign in the lobby advertising a booze day. Now everyone knows I love a good booze day, plus the itemized activities seemed like they would give me the perfect taste of everything Paraty had to offer. So I asked the receptionist if it was too late to sign up and she said that she would get in touch with the owner and find out. The next morning, I came down for breakfast to Leo (the owner) telling me that they jeep part had canceled, but no worries because he would take me to the places himself. I was a little taken aback by his kind offer, but was not about to miss the natural water slide or the cachaça distillery.
We left at quart to nine and jumped in Leo’s car. He even had to drop his own friend off at a place on the way. I didn’t feel like a customer – It was like riding with a friend. We made it to the natural water slide first. Leo knew all the history about the famous black gold trail that the water slide sits on. Then he escorted me down to the slide. Of course, it was almost empty seeing as it was too early in the morning for the locals. Leo graciously took my picture and videoed my two slide attempts. I was a little spastic, but it was a blast! I felt like a little kid again. Afterwards, we hopped right across the street to the caraçu distillery. I LOVE distilleries. I find the booze-making process fascinating. And this did not disappoint. The guide spoke perfect English and was able to tell me the whole process from cane to bottle. And then my favorite part – the tasting commenced. Man, that stuff is good. This specific distillery (Ouro) actually has recent awards for most of their products. So naturally I had to purchase a few bottles to take home and share with friends.
Now this is where it gets fun. Leo took me to a special place NOT on the docket for the day. The place is called Jamaica pool because all of the locals go there to smoke. It is a hidden gem in the middle of the forest. Even the gate leading to the place is clandestine. But oh man! Once you emerge from the trail, the most beautiful piece of nature waits for you with two levels of cool, crisp pools to take a dip in. The current from the miniature falls whirls your around and there is another mini natural water slide to have fun with. I can see why this is the place for the pot heads of paraty. One puff in this place and I’m sure you can see God. The chill of the water relaxed us both and we started having deep conversations about politics and music. Leo told me about the train-wreck that is Brazilian government and I of course related my mourning the loss of the Obama era and a time when America was once run by a smart adult. Leo is also a huge music fan, maybe even bigger than I am so we talked about of love for The Doors and seventies classics. I am so bummed that I am missing the performance night of his band. I will leave one day too soon.
After our lovely dip in the pools, we headed back to the car so that I could make my way to the Capi Boat – also known as the Booze Cruise. Twenty of us from all walks of life boarded the boat where the scenery is something out of the pretty parts of What Dreams May Come and the Caipirinhas flowed with no end in sight. I met some amazing people from England, Austria, Germany, and Brazil. I was the only United States citizen so of course the conversation turned to politics really quickly. I have found that travelers are all pretty like-minded when it comes to political views so the conversation was a pleasant, if a little tipsy one. Island after beautiful island made us realize just how lucky we were to be alive in that moment. And just as we were all getting pretty sloppy, the cruise ended. We all shared information and promised to visit each other – fast friends after a day of cruising and boozing.
I made my way back to the hostel only to have Leo ask if I wanted to get some sushi with him and some return customers from Australia. Um, yes! We order the all you can eat and stuffed our faces with fresh-off-the-boat fish. Sushi has never tasted so good! Then it was off to the bar because the conclusion of my booze tour consisted of five pints of any craft beer. This proud American was determined to finish all five pints, butt alas I had to claim defeat and give some of my tickets to the Aussies. i was too content with life to even feel the same. And as I walked back to the hostel, I decided I needed one more dip in the ocean. I made a running leap. Into the water only to discover it was low tide and there was pure mud verses sand beneath my feet. I squished back to the hostel, gave Leo a much appreciated high five for the awesome day, and crawled into my bunk knowing the early morning would be an aspirin one and not caring one bit. It had been a top day and I fell like I am now part of the Leo clan.
So if you head to Paraty, be sure to stay at the Leo’s Clan beach hostel. And pay the 199 Reals for the booze tour. It will be the best 62 USD you will ever spend!