Carol dons the conga in Paraty

Carol dons the conga in Paraty

Early morning, Paraty Bay

Early morning, Paraty Bay

Street in ParatyStreet in Paraty

Bed and Breakfast: Refron du Mar

Bed and Breakfast: Refron du Mar

Captain RobsonCaptain Robson

Cobblestone NightmareCobblestone Nightmare

Horse & Cart in ParatyHorse & Cart in Paraty

Diving for DollarsDiving for Dollars

Evenings in a hostel or hotel are the perfect time to blog when one is a solo traveler. Bars, restaurants and walks on dark streets or beaches aren’t so comfortable when alone. For that reason, I’m a bit behind on the travel blog. My friend Carol arrived in Rio on Monday morning, Aug 4. Fun!! She came at just the right time, as I was getting a bit depressed and quite bored with my own company. There were a couple of mornings when I woke with plans for the beach or Botanic Garden, and my first thought on rising was, “ So, I’ve no choice but to spend the day with you again!”  After three weeks in Ecuador, mostly on my own, I was a bit tired of being with myself.

And maybe all that time alone was a good thing. Small irritations aside, I have a renewed appreciation of being with a friend. This is fun! We seem to be pretty compatible travelers. I make the plans (with Hanna & Eric’s help) and stumble through any necessary negotiations (cabs, buses, purchases, etc.) with my very limited, but earnest Portuguese. A phrase book is my constant companion. I enjoy the challenge and it keeps me a fully engaged “tourista” rather than a passive one.

We just left Paraty, a precious little colonial town on the coast, about 4 1/2 hours outside of Rio. The droves of tourist are on their way in for the weekend, so it’s good we arrived on Thursday. This town redefined “cobblestone street” for me . . . treacherous!! The stones, of all shapes, sizes, and curvatures, form the streets in a pretty random fashion, one might think by crews of workers fueled with a few too many Capirinahas. Negotiating each step allows only swift glances at shop signs and doorways before taking a quick reprieve on a doorstep. It wasn’t till the second day that we noticed a single line of flatter, more consistent, square shaped stones, forming a path down the center of most streets.  That’s the chosen route for bicyclists, families with kids, women with 4+” heels, and “older folks” like us with marginally stable knees, ankles, and hips.

Almost five weeks into this trip and FINALLY, good icecream arrives!! Since blogs, without saying, require honesty, I have to admit that three hours after my first cone I returned to the shop for a second. It wasn’t just the quality that drew me back, but the self-serve design that allows customers to open the refrigerated cases, scoop the desired flavors into waffle cones or bowls, and then weigh the desired amount on a scale. R$5.50 ( $2.75) for 100 grams.  Ice cream Heaven! Both Carol and I were astounded. The health dept in the states would shut this place down in a second.

Situated on the shore of a large bay, the best way to experience the natural beauty of Paraty is to hire a private boat. Ours was a small one, Dos Deus, owned by Paraty native,  Mestre Robson. The relaxing 6-hour tour took us to a couple of beaches, a fish restaurant, and a nice spot for snorkeling. I’ve never seen so many sand dollars on the bottom of a bay.  I’m used to the bleached out white ones that are a rare treasure to find whole on Oregon beaches. As I happily dove for a few to take home, it didn’t dawn on me until Robson called out “vivo”, that they were quite alive and I needed to return them to the sea.

Updated report on Brazilian dog culture:  Lots of dogs in Paraty, and they roam the streets more like the dogs in Ecuador, however, they aren’t as bone-thin and their friendliness is a good sign that they may be a bit hungry, but don’t suffer abuse. Sipping Caipirinhas at the local café, Carol had one under her feet, and I, one by my side.

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