It took about four hours to get from Sao Paulo to the little colonial town of Paraty on Brazil’s Costa Verde (Green Coast). The distance is not really that far, about 250 km, but going on the ring road around the great metropolis was pretty time consuming. Our intrepid host, Adolpho managed the truly amazing descent to the coast very well. The last stretch of the trip featured about half an hour of tight hairpin bends bordered by lush green foliage and some very beautiful white lilies growing wild along the edge of the road. This is a fairly new road that has frequent safety bays for vehicles that get into trouble. In view of our earlier problems of overheating in the city, I muttered a few prayers to the god of “turbos” and somehow we made it down. It was quite funny to see the many brake and transmission shops set up at the bottom of this mountain road. Well, funny because St. Nicholas, among others, had intervened on our behalf and we managed to get down without incident. In the back of our minds was the ascent to follow in a few days but – what the hell – we would worry about that later!
The boat that would take us out into the beautiful waters off southern Brazil was to be picked up in the little town of Paraty. This is a perfectly preserved Colonial town that was founded in 1597 and the name is derived from the indigenous name meaning River of Fish. It is very pretty and one of the most unusual things about it is that when the tide rises, lots of the main streets are filled with salt water. In one of the pictures you will see a horse drawn carriage at the end of the street. It was quite charming to paddle around until we remembered that we had parked our car quite close to the jetty. A mad dash to retrieve it from the rising salt water reminded us that time was fleeting and that we had better get aboard our craft before sunset.
My experience with boats is limited and with one foot on the jetty and one foot on the boat, I remembered all those ridiculous moments on reality TV shows where funny and not so funny catastrophes befall novice sailors. However, there was no turning back and when all was stowed in the neat but tiny quarters below deck we set off towards the bay where we would set off and spend the first night “at sea”. It was wonderful to see the little town retreat as we sped over the beautiful sea towards our safe harbor a few kilometers away. We prepared a tasty supper in the cramped galley and ate on deck in the still air of evening. I admit to a little claustrophobia in the sleeping quarters as the vessel was secured against “pirates” All right, then! Toilet facilities were not for the faint of heart or muscular prowess as vigorous pumping was needed to dispose of “black water”. After all, even though there were two “heads” – that’s what you call toilets aboard – one must think of the others and deal with this properly.
I woke up early and managed to open up and go up on deck. The water was still and calm and the tropical vegetation came down to the shore. A tiny beach was to be our destination for the morning although I had no idea how we would get there. It seemed a good long way to swim. However, I was sure that Adolpho and Marie Angeles, our wonderful hosts (they are Joe’s brother and sister-in-law) would enlighten me. Sipping my coffee I was thrilled to see a school of fish break the surface of the see and flutter along for a short time. Then I remembered this was not a show for my benefit but probably flight from a predator. More tomorrow