Almost a day after sitting on a bus, we were grateful to have arrived in Paraty from Blumenau. It was late in the afternoon and since we were closer to the equator, the sun was about to set, so we immediately set off to finding a hostel to drop our baggage off. Adventure Hostel, located close to the bus terminal and reasonably priced, seemed like a calm place and had many fans located across the space, so we settled here.
In the glow of the setting sun, we headed straight to the old city centre. Established as a town centuries ago by Portuguese colonizers, Paraty still had a distinctly European feel. We walked on cobblestones through the well-preserved colonial architecture lining the streets towards the river. Colourful boats rocked next to the banks offering tours and parties and locals sat on the beach and watched the sunset. We joined them for a bit before going back to prepare dinner and freshen up.
The main attraction of Paraty is not its centre, but the beaches surrouding it. We headed straight to the beach the next day. While there are beaches located in the city limits, they weren’t nearly as pristine as the ones further out, so we took a bus in the direction of Praia do Sono (40 minute and 3.60R$ bus to Laranjeiras from the bus terminal, once every hour). 3km down well-marked trails through the forest later, we arrived at the beach. Laurent immediately jumped in the warm water (but was swept back to shore pretty quickly by the very strong waves). The sand was clean with crabs scurrying about and the water was quite blue. On the shore, rainforest trees draped over the back of the sand providing shade, and small shacks offered cold beers and caipirinhas. We enjoyed the view for a while and read our books.
Once we began to get a little restless, we went to go explore the next route. Trail signs spotted on the way to Praia do Sono indicated that less than 2 kilometers away was Praia do Antiguinhos, and we decided to go investigate. We walked a secluded area towards the end of the beach and saw a Brazilian couple who was on their way there to do the same thing. The first task was apparently to cross a river, and dressed already in our bathing suits, we darted across. The water level went up to Emily’s waist. On the other side, there was no obvious trail, and Laurent immediately began to climb a a “trail-like” path in the dense forest.
The Brazilian couple went ahead of us and warned us to be careful of what we were grabbing onto during the way up. There was a nasty bunch of “fire caterpillars” bunched up on a tree ahead and we reeled back in disgust and fear as we stared at them after we passed by the tree. (At the time of writing, we decided to do a more thorough investigation of these nasty creatures we just avoided. Their official Latin name is Lonomia obliqua and once grown up, they are pretty harmless moths. As a caterpillar though, they are truly a nightmare. Wikipedia credits them for having been “responsible for many human deaths” preceded by “a severe bleeding disorder ensues, leading to ecchymosis, hematuria, pulmonary, and intracranial hemorrhages, and acute renal failure.” Yikes. That was a closer call than we thought.) A blue crab skittered across the “trail” in front of us and we continued up, despite Emily’s intense skepticism that we were not on the actual trail.
As the four of us continued up through the forest, it became increasingly evident that we must have missed a sign somewhere. One of the Brazilians went ahead and did some investigating of the terrain ahead, and the rest of us stood nervously in the forest paranoid about potential deadly creepy crawlers. A few moments later he reappeared, and announced that he spotted the real trail not far off. We fought through the thick yellow brush and created a trail where there was none. Eventually, we met up with the red dirt path.
The way from there was very easy. A few minutes later, we arrived at the essentially deserted Praia do Antiguinhos and enjoyed its quiet tranquility and warm waters. Due to the extremely early setting of the sun and the lost time from our little forest side adventure, we couldn’t stay long, and headed back slowly in the direction of our hostel. The kind Brazilian couple offered us a ride back to the city (the last bus back leaves at 6pm), and along the way, the husband explained he worked in reforestation and felt comfortable in forests.
Once back in the town, we rinsed the sand from the cracks of our bodies and had dinner at the hostel. We sat in front of the massive fan in the common area and planned our next leg of the journey and pored over Laurent’s big map of South America. Neither of us are big beach enthusiasts, but given that one of Brazil’s biggest claim to fame are its great beaches, we were happy to have visited a very nice and calm one. Our next destination would be home to one of the world’s busiest beaches: Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro.