Saturday, 28 March 2015

0236 A trip to Paraty and Trindade

26th March
Snakes in the jungle, and a hippy surfing haven.

After Pedro had gone off to school, Mauro and I set off in my car to go and explore the amazing coastline around Ubatuba.  We were going to drive north to Paraty, about 60 kms up the road in Rio de Janeiro state – As against Sao Paulo state in which Ubatuba is located.  The coast line here is quite amazing – a kind of cross between parts of Vietnam, that place in China with all those islands, and Coffs Harbour ! The mountains to the west are thick jungle, and then you get glimpses of the sea and islands through the trees to the east, as the road winds though the foothills.

ust down the road from Ubatuba, we went through one of the quite frequent Police Checkpoints where, using witch’s hats, they put quite a tight one lane chicane in the road in front of their office windows so everyone has to slow down as they pass.  I have not yet seen a policeman outside on the road at one of these checkpoints, but there are ALWAYS lots of cars and motorbikes in a fenced-off lot beside the checkpoint which I am told have been confiscated from people who did not have the correct paperwork.  Since I have no paperwork on my car at all, apart from its Australian registration form, I wonder what would happen to me if I was pulled over at one of these !  Anyway, passed this one without drama, and continued on up the road.

20 minutes later Mauro suddenly said “Turn left” – Which I did, up a very narrow and bumpy dirt track through the jungle, which rapidly became even narrower and bumpier.  For 10 minutes we went deeper and deeper into this Amazonian-type rain forest jungle with creepers hanging down from the trees and brushing over the car.  Not many wheel tracks up here either – Where were we going ??  Suddenly we came round a corner and there was an area
with a tile roof, but no walls – and inside was an enormous wooden water wheel !  What was this ?  It turns out that it is an old water wheel that was set up by a local indigenous tribe back in 1985 (doesn’t seem THAT long ago !  Or am I getting old ?!) to crush sugar cane and to mill manioc that grows in the surrounding jungle.  The steel parts required were imported from England and adapted for use in this application.  And the man who originally put the whole thing together was still there – Albeit a lot older and slower than in 1985 !  Just really weird to find this all hiding deep in the jungle, and now being maintained for limited tourism purposes.

As we headed back down the rough trail, a big yellow and black snake was sitting beside the road watching me – Mauro assured me it wasn’t poisonous – But I wasn’t going to get out to check – I did my photography safely from the driver’s seat !!  He eventually slithered off into the jungle.

10 minutes further down the road I was told to pull over again – And this time we walked up a trail through the trees and found a waterfall cascading down over some rocks.  We wandered up over the rocks and Mauro had a splash and tried to wet me in the process, and we sat around for a while and just enjoyed the moment, surrounded by trees covered in tropical bromiliads – Bit like that Sean Connery Movie “Medicine Man”, set in
the Amazon Jungle !  (Little did I know that 3 days later I was going to meet a real life "Medicine Man" !!)  Then it was on up the road towards Paraty, crossing officially out of the Province of Sao Paulo into the Province of Rio de Janeiro.  So although I am not going to drive the 200 kms north into the busy City of Rio de Janeiro, I have officially reached my goal set some 2 years ago (as per the signs on the side on my car), and reached “Rio de Janeiro”.  Now only Montevideo to go………

15 minutes later we dropped into Paraty – And that really is so like Coffs Harbour as you come in, with the yachts out in the blue blue sea, that I couldn’t believe it.  This whole place is so like FNQ that if you brought me here blindfolded and then asked me where I was, there is no doubt I would say I was somewhere in FNQ. 

Driving into Paraty itself, with its rough and narrow cobbled streets, historic buildings and touristy shops and restaurants, it is a cross between Bali, San Pedro de Atacama, and Antigua in Guatemala, and all mixed together !  We parked and went into a little local coffee shop and had a coffee and a cochina (Not as good as yesterday’s)  before wandering into the old historic part of town.  This is lovely, and very touristy, area, and very different from laid back Ubatuba just down the coast.  In amongst everything I even found a gold VW beetle – Those of you who knew me back in my college days will remember that I used to have an identical one – Gigi II !  Brought back a few memories !! Anyway, with its old historical buildings and waterways, this one quite little fishing village is now a very upmarket tourist destination, especially from November to February, when apparently you can hardly move here.  Now, in the quiet of late March, it was very pleasant indeed.

We decided to head back south towards Ubatuba for lunch, heading to a place called Trindade. Some 14 kms south of Paraty we turned east towards the beach, and went 8 kms along a very windy and steep road through the hills – Apparently known as “Save me, God” road because it is quite hazardous !  Eventually the road finished on a beach – with a river flowing across a big rock which covered the road, and an even bigger rock on the beach that looks like a giant shark !  Welcome to hippy town Trindade !    On the other side of the river-covered rock, the road actually turned up into the little town which is full of camping sites, open fronted restaurants, T shirt shops, and Pousada’s, or cheap accommodation. The road is so narrow that there is no parking anywhere !  And this place is an absolute double for the Kuta area of Bali !!  It just could not be more different than upmarket Paraty only 14 kms away.

Eventually we had to park at a camping site owned by a friend of Mauro’s, and then wandered into town looking for a fish restaurant for lunch, which we soon found and enjoyed a delightful meal. Then another wander through town to help all the food settle down, before checking out their beach, and then heading out of town.  We took a few photos at the ford down at the beach, then it was back over the twisty mountain road to the main road, and back into Ubatuba.

A great day, and since Mauro has limited English and I have (severely) limited Portuguese, one which was full of laughs and some interesting hand gestures as we tried to get our points across !!  Meanwhile I am really getting a good feel for this part of Brazil,  even though I did not originally plan to spend any time here.  I am finding out that this coast line from Sa Paulo north to Rio is famous worldwide for its excellent surf beaches, and attracts a lot of overseas surfers.  Once they get here, they can choose between the upmarket (and very pleasant) Paraty, the hippyish (but also very pleasant) area of Trindade with lots of cheap accommodation, restaurants, and campsites, or the more laid back and relaxed local family atmosphere of Ubatuba,  The coastline itself is absolutely stunning all the way along, so you can decide where you want to stay depending on your personality and social requirements.  All are good, all are very different !

1 comment:

  1. I just love travelling. I just hope i could have a long vacation again and spend some more time travelling. I really liked you post. Thanks for sharing your experience