I feel like every blog starts with this line but it’s a long old journey from Iguazu back to São Paulo. It doesn’t look that far on the map but it’s an 18 hour overnight bus (where we’re cramped, cold and surrounded by snorers) followed by 4 hours in the bus station and then another 8 hours to Paraty. We arrive desperate for a shower and proper food and sleep.
We venture out into the whitewashed, cobbled streets, lamp lit at night and busy with Brazilian tourists. There are carts selling trays of puddings and shops with their doors open where you can try the local spirit, cachaça, flavoured with coconut and passionfruit and chilli. We find a family-run restaurant with a spare table at the back, squeeze in and sit at the paper tablecloth, order fish and salad and chips and share a beer.
The next day, after a perfect sleep, we’re ready to explore – the whitewashed buildings look even prettier in the daytime and cobbled streets lead off in all directions, the colourful painted doorframes the only way to tell them apart. As we turn a corner we hear a crack right behind us; a coconut has fallen out of the tree above us, missed our heads and cracked open on the pavement – we pick it up and lick the last of the water. There are stalls selling huge spiky jack fruit, juice stands, hippies sitting on the street selling beaded necklaces and bracelets. Moz points out kites flying high in the sky, their drivers hidden behind rooftops at the end of strings. We find a van selling books and I stock up on two more for a fiver. When we decide to treat ourselves to an ice cream and our card fails to work in the shop, the nice girl behind the counter gives it to us for free as a gift; we sit in a quiet street and lick the plastic spoons clean of pistachio, ginger, fig and walnut.
The hostel we’re staying in is full of musicians who head out at night to busk. They begin practising as we’re cooking one night and we gather around them like moths to a light to listen to them play. There are two friends from Argentina, a guitarist and a violinist who is blind, and girl who also plays the fiddle. A tropical downpour starts and so they stay longer and we clap along. The dogs, Mel and Preto, flop around, moving from shady corner to shady corner as the day goes on.
The following night is a Friday and we head out to find some music in the busy square filled with people and stalls selling drinks. We use our reals to buy a Jorge Amado (a cocktail made of local spirit Gabriela, passionfruit, lime and brown sugar) which comes in a plastic pint glass – and go to dance to the live band.
The next day we hop on a local bus to Trindade, a small village about half an hour away. It’s not a very sunny day, but still hot and lovely to be on the beach. The main part of the beach is busy with umbrellas and folding chairs, and we walk to a quieter spot. There are big breakers from the ocean rolling onto the shore and when I head down to swim I’m picked off my feet bowled over twice, scraping my arms and legs and coming up covered in sand. The old fear of drowning rears up and I come back up the beach shaken, have a little cry on the beach towel into my sandwich.
That night we go out for burgers and a beer, wander the busy streets that have the day’s leftover rainwater pooled amongst the dipped cobbles. Families mill around us and the pudding sellers are out and shops with their doors open wide. We spot the band from our hostel playing outside a church and the guitarist spots us and waves across at us over the crowd. We empty our purse of loose change.
We’ve had a great few days in Paraty and are excited for the next step of our adventure: Salvador!