Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Parati, Brasil

Parati, Brasil

This past week I had the pleasure of journeying to a small town about four hours south of Rio called Paraty. I traveled with a friend that I met in Rio by the name of Catherine. She and I met through the couch surfing group that I am apart of in Rio. Before I go any further…here is a little background info on the couch surfing group. Once a week I go to a meeting that they host in this area called Largo do Marchado. We meet at a bar there and just hang out, drink, and meet new and interesting people each week from all over Brasil…and the world. It has been a lot of fun and nice also to see familiar faces. They have forums online for the city and people post about different trips they plan on taking whether it is around Rio or to other cities or towns. My friend Catherine had posted she was going to Paraty so I decided to join her since we had attended some other gatherings together in the past month.

Our trip started out with a two and a half hour bus ride to a town called Angre. We missed the bus that went directly to Paraty….but ended up having a more local view and experience. When we arrived in Angre we found out that the bus that takes us to Paraty from there was a local bus that stops about every five minutes letting people off and on. For me it was not a problem because I had just a small bag for the three-day trip we had planned. For Catherine, on the other hand, it was a little difficult because she had been living in Rio for the last three months and was planning on continuing her travels to other parts of Brazil as well as Argentina so she had a huge suitcase. But despite our disappointment in the transportation that was presented we loaded on the bus. We were determined to get to Paraty no matter what!! After riding on the bus for about 20 minutes (a packed bus..very packed) I decided to ask the man sitting next to be just how long it took to get to Paraty. He told me it would take duas horas!!! 2 hours!!! Not what I had wanted to hear but once again, we remained positive. Luckily our stop was the last so the bus cleared out along the way. I spoke with the man next to me for a bit. From what I could make out...ha ha..rs..He lived in a town not far from Paraty. I told him I was from Rio and we conversed a little bit. I am sure he asked me other things in which I wrongly answered, but I never really told him I was American and spoke English. I figured he probably could tell..ha ha

Once arriving in Paraty we were greeted by loads of travelers waiting at the small Rodaviara. (Lots of stray dogs roaming around the station as well as the streets of Paraty.) We jumped in a cab and made it to our Misit Chill Hostel. It was a very small place, right along the praia. There were many hostels there as well as several Pousadas in the town. The town is pretty much a tourist destination. Because our trip had been delayed we arrived around four and decided for the evening to take a walk into Centro, which was the historical area of town. Here are some photos of the area. The buildings were full of brightly colored janelas e portas.

In this area no cars are allowed to travel down the streets. There were people riding on horses and in carriages. The streets are covered with large cobblestones that were really irritating to walk on. I was constantly looking at my feet to see where I was stepping. It was easy to trip because it was so uneven and impossible to wear anything other than a good pair of tennis shoes or haviannas. (Brazilian flip-flops)

We had a look at a lot of the shops and took some pictures as well as visited the local teatro that was located on the street Rua dos Bonecos. The theatre has performances Saturday and Wednesday nights each week and luckily they had seats available for the show that evening. I had read a little bit about the theatre online and saw that it was a traditional puppet presentation but after further research I learned that the company has shown their performances internationally. Here are a few pictures of me standing in front of the teatro as well as by one of the puppets. The name of the company is Grupo Contadores de Estórias.

Now when I say puppets, I don’t mean marionettes, which was what I was expecting. The puppets are moved simply but their hands but are disguised in black. There were a total of 5 different acts that were performed by two people. They both wore all black and one would come out towards the audience each time and hold up a title of the act. Then they would remain on the stage where they prepared the puppets for that act and placed the props for the audience to see. Then the lights would dim and each person would take on a role for the different movements of the puppets. It was really amazing because they were able to make the puppets move in a believable way. Really seamless. My favorite act was between a little old women and man. It was just very endearing, sweet, and innocent. I was trying to find a video of one of the acts online but was having trouble finding a decent one. Here are a few clips I found and additional photos.


After the play Catherine and I decided since it was a Saturday night, why not have some drinks and find somewhere to dance for the evening. We headed to a few bars to find the best price for caiparinhas. We settle on a place that was charging R$ 5 Not bad and about half of what you pay at most places in Rio. We hung out there for a bit and then took a walk around centro to see where we might find somewhere to dance. Now since we both have been living in Rio for the last several months we were expecting to find some clube to go to but unfortunately it was hard to find anything like this there. It was too small. We did find on place with live music and a dj but the prices were ridiculously over priced so we decided to talk to some locals and found out there was a local club not too far from town.

We walked and found the place pounding with Brazilian music. Unfortunately I don’t have much experience dancing to this kind of music but Catherine insisted we go in so I did. It was Baile Funk night, which is a mix of Brazilian rap and is derived by Miami bass that requires lots of booty dancing. Ha ha. We sat for a bit and just had some drinks and chatted. After awhile decided to try to dance. Now, I am not much of a dancer when it comes to Brazilian music, I have become use to being identified as a gringo ( common reasons: not moving my hips enough and not enough butt action) but combined with my friend Catherine, we stuck out like a sore thumb. I spoke to a few girls and asked them to teach me but didn’t have much luck getting the moves down. It was a real local hangout, there weren’t other tourists in this place, which was nice.

After sticking it out for a while we decided to head back into town towards the bar that had a live band and dj just for an hour or two. The music consisted of mostly electronic, r&b, hip hop, and rock n roll!! Yeah!! They really like that song Halo by Beyonce here. I hear it multiple times a day. Probably one of the songs I will associate with this trip as well as all the tributes to Michael Jackson. I’ve had a hand full of people ask me about Michael Jackson, since I live in the states. Wanted to know my opinion on whether or not he actually died. Another thing I have failed to mention but has happened at least 15 times or more since I have been here. People tell me I look like Mary Jane from Spiderman aka Kirsten Dunst. I’ve never been told this in the states. I found it kind of humorous at first but after the 5th time it got kind of old...

BACK TO PARATI! I apologize for the tangent. We finished our Saturday rather late and woke up late Sunday to find the weather was gorgeous. We headed to a near by beach that was in walking distance and laid in the sun all afternoon into early evening. While at the beach I made some friends. I decided to take a dip in the water and three little girls about 6 years old came up to me and started talking. We hung out for a bit and I tried to answer their questions. I ended up telling them I spoke English so they helped me understand what they were asking. Very cute. Since the sun was rather strong, and I am I still pretty white, decided to take a walk back to the hostel early and visited a Fortress that over looks the town. It was a nice few of the small little town and a nice walk through the woods.

The rest of the evening we mainly hung out around the hostel meeting other travelers. Parati is a big destination for back packers that are traveling through the south of Brasil. I met people from Germany, New Zealand, England, India, Italy, and the US. Each night our hostel hosted a dinner for R$12 and the portions are huge. For two nights we ate there and has lasagna and stramboli. Both were delicious! And to compliment the food were nice dinner conversation with other travelers.

The next two days consisted of a lot of bad weather and down time. Parati is a great place when the weather is nice there is so much to do like: horse back riding, sailing, snorkeling, kayaking, jeep tours to see waterfalls and cachaca distilleries BUT when the weather is crappy there is not much to do expect read, hang out, draw in your sketchbook and sleep? We had planned on visiting some other nearby beaches which looked phenomenal in the photos BUT the weather wasn’t allowing us to go. Instead we walked around the little shops in town and visited a few museums. Even though it rained off and on it cleared for the evening and I was able to take some more pictures of the buildings. Here are a few of my favorites. I am planning on making my next piece based off of these photos. One thing I found particularly interested were how a number of the buildings had plants growing out of the roofs. It was very whimsical.

This coming weekend I am going to Brasilia to visit my cousins Sergio and Beto. I am looking forward to the visit because the city will be a whole different experience. It is the capital of Brasil and was a planned city. It is famous for its architecture from the famous Oscar Niemeyer. I will be sure to post once I return!!


Rachel C. Wright said...


Look up anything you can on Ivo Arzua. He did some really cool urban planning stuff in Brazil. I remember that I learned this in Biodiversity I believe.. lol! He turned an over crowded city into a "no cars allowed" zone.. only walking and bicycles could be used. He tiled the roads himself. He also created this "trash for food" program. People who lived in the slums/dumps were encouraged to bring bags of trash from the dump to a drop of site for sorting, and in exchange, they would receive a bag of food for their family. He was a pretty extraordinary guy. I can't find much on google that isn't in portugese. :)

Jaime Bennati said...

Yeah I read about him. He is from Curitiba. I think that is somewhere May and I might be heading. It is south of Rio.

Ryan Cecil said...