The trip is off to quite a start! Well actually it started off with a 10 minute phone conversation trying to locate the Uber driver who didn’t speak a word of English only to realize he was on the upper level and I… was not. So I was getting quite late for the 7 hour bus to Paraty, a small historic town almost equidistant from Rio and Sao Paulo. The entire ride I had my eyes focused to the ETA on the driver’s Uber app with every delay getting me more and more nervous. I really didn’t want to miss this bus because I had no idea when the next one would be. Luckily my friend was at the station and gave me precise directions of what to do once I got dropped off, almost to the point where I knew how many steps I had to climb.
Anyway, 7 hours, 2 movies, 6 chapters of my book, a couple new friends, and a great nap later, we reached Paraty! On reaching the hostel, we were welcomed with a shot of a local alcohol called Gabriela – Cachaça infused with cinnamon and clove. It was a little suspicious that the hostel owners warned us three times that it’s very strong and also didn’t want to have one with us, but I’m still alive so that’s good! The free walking tour was great as per usual. We saw the four churches in town, three of which were never completed so that the builders could keep asking for more money. We also saw the house of Prince João Maria, the descendent of former emperors Pedro I and Pedro II. After a delicious dinner with a friend from Sao Paulo who we met on the tour, we met up with our Argentine and Peruvian friends from the hostel and joined the street parade that marked the first day of Carnival.
The carnival was something hard to put into words. The entire town was out at the plaza, following a truck that led a band of drummers dancing through puddled streets. It should be noted that streets of the old town are basically a bunch of big stones and rocks paved together very randomly, almost as a test to see if you can walk without falling. They say that walking gets easier as you have a few shots of Cachaça but that was definitely not the case. People right from the age of 5 to 65 were out on the streets dancing to Brazilian music which, by the end of it, I got pretty good at mouthing the words to. The night ended with the four of us hanging by the rocks on the beach and sharing travel stories. Of course I couldn’t compare with the Argentine guy, who recently went to New Zealand without knowing a word of English and is going to Denmark in a couple weeks for a year with no real plans of what he’s going to do there. Either way, it was definitely refreshing to speak with an Argentine in *real* Spanish.
The next morning, after a run on the beach, we shared Instagram handles (as I have learned is the norm here with new people you meet) and parted ways – hopefully not, but probably, forever. The bus to Rio is going to be long but the views are amazing and I am brushing up on Brazilian music to prepare for Carnival in Rio de Janeiro!