Paraty

This small colonial gem located on the verde coast is a must visit. Not only is the place picturesque, but also has some stunning beaches, plenty of outdoor activities, and some of the freshest sea food you will ever eat. Trust me, this is one place in Brazil you will not want to miss.

The flight from Iguaçu was actually cheaper going back to Rio. Traveling with Gol airlines, I ended up with a ticket for $55. There was a two hour layover in São Paulo that simply substantiated my decision to skip that city. The airport was quite literally the pits. I had a brief stop in Rio and then headed on the early bus via Costa Verde bus company. The seats were luxurious, the air conditioning heaven, and the scenery was to die for. Luscious green hills flanked the right side of the bus while exquisite blue ocean-front towns peaked through the brush. I usually read on buses, but this time I sat open jawed the entire time. Colorful houses lines streets and people, young and old sat on stoops watching the buses go by on the hot summer day. True paradise that I highly recommend experiencing on the way to Paraty. Not only is the bus economical, but you also get the views from giant air-conditioned windows. Win-win!

I reached Paraty in the morning and made my way to my hostel, Leo Clan’s Hostel. Highly, highly recommend if you are a solo traveler. ‘This place is in a perfect location, is impeccably clean, and has everything you could possibly want in a hostel (breakfast, free wifi, a house dog and a pool!) The owner, Leo, is a huge music fan so his place is decked out in music memorabilia. It reminded me of Nashville and Memphis with all of the Elvis and John Cash albums on the wall. Leo is extremely knowledgeable about Paraty and so is his staff.

First, I made my way through the historic center of Paraty. The adorable colonial buildings that line the street give the place both a nostalgic and adolescent feel. White buildings with colorful shutters and doors house shops and restaurants with anything a tourist could possibly want. The massive stone streets don’t deter shoppers from enjoying the artisanal finds among the shops. By a little after noon, I was famished and headed down {insert street} in search of some cheap eats. I stumbled upon Cana da Praça. It was the only place that had food for under 20 Reals. Oh how glad I am that I did. The bartender Lucas spoke perfect English and told me all about Paraty. He told me some of the history and the placed that I needed to visit. Then the owner walked up after a morning of fishing. And I was in love. George is the coolest dude ever! Between Lucas translating and our miming, George and I became fast friends. He started bringing me out shots of local cachaca, including the Gabriela, which is this delicious concoction of honey, cinnamon and cachaca. It’s a local specialty that when made into a caipirinha is called a Jorge Amado , named for a local man who fell in love with Gabriela. This place is amazing! I cannot recommend grabbing some lunch here enough.

Next, I made my way to the beach where I rented a kayak to go to the mangroves. Now, I was a champion white-water kayaker back in the day, but crossing the flippin ocean was a challenging trip, let me tell you. I was half way to the mangroves when I realized I didn’t have any water. But I figured people live for at least a day without water, so a few hours would not kill me. II took a wrong turn, but ended up in this lagoon that was actually way cool. Several stork-like birds took flight right in front of me. It was magical. When I got back on track, I figured out that I needed to go through the two opening of the two hills and then towards the right. That’s where the mangrove tunnel was. It was filled with crabs and fish and, of course, mangroves. I made it to the end, turned around, and then got cocky. I was going to recreate some kayak tricks from my youth using the trees and makeshift gates. That’s when the flattop boat didn’t act quite the same as a whitewater kayak and I flipped. I managed to save my backpack, but my Gopro fell into the water and didn’t float back to the surface. I have never panicked so much in my life. I prayed to every God and thankfully one of them heard me. I was walking in the squishy bottom of the grove when my foot stumbled upon a long stick that just happened to be my GoPro stick. Thank you Mother Earth! I almost wept getting back onto my kayak.

I made the trek back across the lake and would be lying if I said my arms didn’t burn like a furnace. But it was totally worth the trip and the 35 Reals for the two hours. I was a tiny bit dehydrated so I plopped myself at the nearest outdoor seating and ordered my usually water and cold beer. The waiters, Fernando and Giermo were AMAZING and gave me extra treatment because I was by myself. Giermo talked me into another beer and as made my way through my second liter, I watched the families around me and decided that I was going to adopt a little Brazilian child by the time I was 35. I think I was a little more dehydrated than I thought. When my mind turns to motherhood, I know it’s time to go home and shower.

I enjoyed the pool at the hostel first, met some super nice people from Argentina, and then took a shower and did some laundry. I still can’t believe that I am only half way through my trip. I made my way back into the center to try out Lucas’ dinner recommendation and take in some live music. I first went to Hiltinho (two down from George’s bar) and tried the traditional Brazilian dish Muqueca. This is a fish stew that is simply amazing! It reminds me of a blander Thai curry. I of course needed tons of hot sauce on mine, but if you don’t like spicy, this is right up your ally. It has all the flavor without the heat.There was a church youth performance in the main entertainment area. It was a little strange, but I think I got the gist. I think it was an anti-bullying dance thing. I then headed to Sarau (one door down) to enjoy some live music. All-in-all it was a good night.

ADDENDUM: Even though Paraty has a paradise quality, it can be very lonely for a solo traveler. There is a romantic quality that makes it a little tougher than say Rio or Foz do Iguaçu. If you don’t make friend easily or have issues eating meals alone, this may be a bit out of your conform zone. But trust me, it is worth every moment. Paraty is an amazing place!

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