This was the first stop since the begining of the tour. Took us about 5 hours with Doris (our overland truck) to get here. Beautiful little seaside town which is clearly a tourist hot spot. The group, which consists of 15 people, has been split up into 3 man teams.4 of the teams (A, B, C and D) rotate the duties of cooking, cleaning up and truck cleaning while one group rests. The final group (which I have been placed in) is refered to as “The Toughies”. I, along with two other guys, is responsible for loading and unloading the truck. Be that bags, tents or other equipment. Its a sweet deal since out of the entire 112 days, 49 of them are camping and the rest hostels. It is a lot ofwork initially, but once camp is set up, there is not much to do until packing up time which averages at about 2 days. Anyway, I digress.
Back to Paraty (pronounced “para-chi”) consists of an old and new town. The old town is the area to be in. The roads were built with massive stones of various sizes which have been worn smooth with time. The streets are narrow and have a very busy local vibe about them. You can jump into a horse and wagon and get a tour of the town (which is a bumpy ride but is a good way to do it. There are all sorts of interesting shops which sell various bits and bobs. The most interesting shop I came across in my opinion is run by a woman who cuts coins of various ages and countries. Her handywork is amazing and they can make awesome friendship necklaces when you have half of one coin which fits snuggly into another.
There was an optional tour on offer here which puts you into a boat with about 40 other people and for 5 hours you sail around the coastline stopping off at two beaches and two islands. Our tour leader Mike said that once during that tour there were turtles which the people swam with. Other than that, a good way to spend the day is on the beach (which is directly across the road from our camp site) at one of the beach bars. The water is warm (coming close on Mombasa temperatures) which is strange considering that Rio which is north of us and should therefore be warmer was freezing. Unfortunately, due to an estuary which feeds into one side of the bay, the water is a murky brown and filled with slimy sediment which clings to your body hairs and gave me an Austin Powers type “hairy” chest :-P
The nightlife is good fun. Besides little beach parties and the hostel down the road (which sports a bar and is a popular hangout for backpackers) there are a number of local bars and clubs in the old town which party on till the wee hours of the morning. Was interesting is that the bars themselves are relatively empty with the majority of folk hanging around outside them. Street sellers provide food and beer and aid in turning the streets into a big party. The people are friendly (but hardly speak a word of English) and Paraty is by all means a very safe place. People mill about, socialize and just have a good time. In many ways, I prefer it here to Rio. Definitely a good place to come, party, unwind and just feel free.