Paraty was originally a very rich town as it was at the end of the trail into the gold fields. So it was kind of ironic that I had to go via Rio to get there from the gold fields. Rio bus station is quite big and of course there's no central information point, so you have to walk along about 50 booths looking for the company that goes to where you want. One of the problems with travelling on your own is that you don't have someone to sit and mind your bags whilst you do this. Well, really the big problem is that you can't get someone else to do it whilst you sit minding the bags. So whilst hunting for the Costa Verde bus company booth, which is on the ground floor unlike just about every other company, I managed to leave my hoody on a chair. And someone handed it in. And I got it back.
It's 5 hours to Paraty on the bus. The scenery is all hills covered in rainforest. It looks just like northern Queensland if you've been there. The town itself had a historic centre with cobbled streets and it's actually pedestrianised. There's no beach though, just a quay side and a load of mangroves, so mozzie repellent is definitely called for.
The most exciting thing about the whole place was the laundrette. I took my clothes in at 10am and got them back at 4pm. So I was ready to go out on the town that night. The only lively place I found was Paraty 33 which wasn't cheap, though the service was very good. After 4 nights in town, they more or less placed my draught beer on the table as I walked in.
I did a jeep tour and met loads of tourists. Paraty was the first place I met other European backpackers in any numbers whatsoever. The tour visited a couple of waterfalls including one you could slide down like a giant waterslide. The big bump at the bottom looked like it might hurt but it didn't. There was a guy there who was obviously there every day for the tips and he went down standing up, having to take a large jump just before the bump and landing a couple of feet away from some big rocks. Still, I'm sure he's done it thousands of times. I went down sitting down. It was still fun. The littler fat kid who was bullied into going down and landed up at bottom crying his eyes out may not have agreed, but still, I'm sure it was character forming.
We also visited a couple of cachaca distilleries and sampled the product. They gave you tiny thimbles but when you've had about 10 different types, you start to notice it so it was probably just as well we went for lunch.
On the other day, I went diving. It was OK. The viz was about 8m, there was coral down to about 5m and the fish life wasn't bad. Diving seems to be a big thing there despite the fact it really isn't that great.
The other thing it did in Paraty was rain a lot. January is the wet season. It's also the peak season. Yeah, I don't understand it either.
Ihla Grande, the world's least imaginatively named island, is just up the coast. I got the bus back if Angra Dos Reis then the ferry which leaves at 1.30pm on a Saturday. It takes about and hour and a half, most of which is going up the coast as Angra isn't exactly opposite the island, but it only cost R$4.50 and it was sunny. And there was a man with cans of beer and packets of crisps on board.
There's one main village on the island and cars are banned. There's a few emergency vehicles and the dust cart, but that's it. It was one of the best places I've been in Brazil. The weather was obviously still rubbish, but there are restaurants along the beach and there's a good range of different prices when looking for something to eat. There are campsites, which was obviously no good for me, but it did mean there were more budget places than Paraty.
There are also lots of walking trails. I walked over to Dois Rios, a beach named after the two rivers that enter the sea at either end. The walk is actually along a stoney road as there used to be a prison there. It's two hours each way and is half uphill, half downhill. The woman in the pousada gave me dire warnings about not having a dry shirt and catching influenza but there were Brazilians walking there in beachwear and flip flops, which I have to say, I don't recommend. On the walk back, there were some very noisy insects all around me and I could hear the howler monkeys in the hills.
I also went diving because there was a 45 year old wreck that sounded interesting but we didn't get to do it as the weather was too bad to see the transits to find it. You'd think GPS would be ubiquitous by now, but apparently not. We did a couple of reefs which were similar to Paraty though slightly better.
The only thing I didn't like about Ihla Grande was that there were no ATMs, but what do you expect in a major holiday resort just two hours south of Rio? Most places take credit cards except the pousada, i.e. my main expenditure.