Relaxation and BIG Rats
19.02.2008 35 °C
After the craziness of the Rio carnival, we thought it would be a good idea to relax for a few days, so we decided to go to a lovely place called Paraty. Paraty is a colonial Portuguese village on the coast about four hours south of Rio by bus. We booked a hostel called Pousada Guarana which was so beautiful, we thought we'd gone to the wrong place! It is owned by a lovely couple, David from Arizona and Janela from Brazil. The décor of the place is just wonderful with lots of really nice artistic touches as well as a swimming pool. Luxury!
We intended to stay for a couple of days but ended up being there for six. Paraty is very quaint with old cobbled streets (which are quite tricky to walk or cycle on) and colourful buildings with some historical churches. On the first night we managed to find the only late night music bar in town and stayed out drinking and chatting with some English travellers we met until 5am. So much for relaxing! Next day, after a late start, we had a quiet time wondering around the historic centre of Paraty.
The following day, we went on a boat trip around some of the islands in the bay and did some snorkelling as well. Nothing like the Barrier Reef, but a lovely day.
Another day we were a little more active and got the bus to Larangeiras where there was a walk through rain forest to a beautiful remote beach. There were people camping on the beach and a few beach bars so we treated ourselves to a beer whilst watching the waves. Later in the day we headed by bus to another beach in a village called Trindade. This was another stunning beach so we hung around for a while before heading back to Paraty.
From Paraty, we decided to go to the Pantanal. The Pantanal is the largest wetland area in the world. To get there, we had to take a six hour bus ride to Sao Paulo and then a ten hour bus to Campo Grande. There was only 30 minutes between our arrival in Sao Paulo and our connecting bus but we figured it would be ok. However, when we arrived in SP, we couldn't find the bus company for our connection. Panic time. Jess found the information desk and was told we needed to go to another bus station which was fifteen minutes away by taxi. Ahhhhh! We jumped in a taxi and got on our way. 'Rapido! Rapido!'. We made it with five minutes to spare, bought our tickets and collapsed relieved on our bus just in time.
We arrived in Campo Grande in the afternoon and managed to arrange a three day tour of the Pantanal heading off the following day. The tour included a free night's accomodation in a basic hostel so we fell into bed exhausted from our twenty hour bus ride at 7pm and slept through to the morning.
We got the minibus to the Pantanal lodge in the morning and relaxed for the rest of the day at the lodge. We encountered our first wildlife that afternoon, an Alligator and a capivaras, the worlds largest rodent at about three feet long although it looked more like a cross between a labradore and a wombat to us. Jess went for a swim in the river and the giant rodent joined in the fun playing a kind of hide and seek game in the water and rolling over to get his belly rubbed. Cute, but definitely more like a dog than a giant rat!
The Pantanal trip was ok and involved a boat trip where we spotted howler monkeys, alligators, tucans and lots of other birds. On the way back, we pulled over by some fishermen who our guide knew and they gave us a couple of fish for lunch. I think they were related to pirhana fish as they had sharp looking teeth.
We went horseriding through the wetlands which was pretty different. At times the water was up to the horses stomachs. All meals were provided by the lodge but they weren't very inspiring. Beans and rice and an unidentifyable meat stew for every lunch and dinner and bread and jam for brekky.We really can’t face any more beans and rice. After our three days were up, we headed back to Campo Grande. We had a bit of a scare as the police stopped our bus to check everyones ID. We didn't have our passports with us but thankfully the policeman let us off with a friendly warning to carry them in future and put us on another bus to make sure we made it to CG in time for our connecting bus to Iguacu Falls on the Brazil / Argentina border. Phew!