Not really sure how to sum up our 53 hour excursion to Paraty, Brazil in a short post, but I will do my best. When I worked at Herzl Camp, I coined the term “Teva (Nature) Excursion” for the overnight trip in the woods we would take the campers. I feel like this weekend has given that term a whole new meaning, as it was an extreme trip where my sub-group of 4 (quickly named “Team Bad-a**) refused to back down from any challenge. This was the Paraty Teva Excursion (and the first of my 2013 resolution to do 5 new adventures).
Friday, Jan 11
8:00pm – Board the bus for a 250 km ride to Paraty
Saturday, Jan 12
3:00am – After 7 hours of navigating mountainous roads with 45 degree inclines, no concept of slowing down, and speed bumps every 100 meters in a sh*tty bus, we finally arrive in the colonial city of Paraty. Cobblestone roads, beaches, tourism, mountains, rainforest looking foliage … even the awful trip couldn’t take away from the hope of adventure to come.
5:30am – Wow. Two and a half hours of negotiating with our bus driver finally done. The guy was supposed to stay in Paraty with us, but never mentioned we were to book him a place to stay. Nor that it had to be a private place to his “standards”. There were no rooms left at the hostel so i offered up my bed, he refused. We offered another hostel with a private room, he refused. Finally, we gave him US$200 and sent him to a hotel, telling him we didn’t want to see him again until Sunday at 5pm for the trip back. Between 25 of us, it was about $8 each, worth the price of an extra hour of sleep at this point.
9:00am – After a very relaxing 3.5 hour nap on a hammock, we awoke to start the day. Team Bad-a** rented mountain bikes and took to the mountains. It was a total of 20 km roundtrip, straight up, then back down, then up the other side and down again. The bikes were … ok … they held up well on the way up, but had ABSOLUTELY no breaks coming down. I used my feet, the bushes, and other death-defying maneuvers to keep me from barreling head first into passing cars on the narrow windy road. But the views were worth it, simply an incredible countryside.
2:00pm – We get to the first waterfall, Cachoeira de Penha and learned how to surf/slide down the falls into the pool below. I have never seen the likes of this before, wow. The locals were slightly better than us, but it was still awesome to try.
4:00pm – We continue the bike trek down the mountain and back up the other side. Navigating this “rainforest” terrain felt like I was on the set of LOST. Overgrown tropical vegetation, deserted buildings in the distance … even a radio tower on the top of a mountain. JJ Abrams must have come here for his initial inspiration.
5:00pm – We get to the second waterfall, Cachoeira de Pedra Blanca and went nuts with diving off the cliffs into the pools and navigating the different sections of waterfall. This was about 3 times the size of Gooseberry Falls, and an incredible sight worth the extra trip up the mountain again.
5:30pm – Side story. Paige broke the key into the bike lock, stranding us on the mountain top after everyone went home for the night. We were the last people there, with no way to get down besides walking, but we got lucky in that one of the remaining park guides happened to have a hacksaw on hand. Only in Brazil! After a quick scare, we made our way back down the mountain again (just as scared).
7:00pm – Drop off the bikes, having somehow miraculously survived the downhill run again (this time, holding the brakes firm to the handlebars praying somehow it would magically stop the bike if needed. It didn’t.)
9:00pm – Time for the highlight of the weekend: A local version of the Brazilian Churrascaria at our hostel, Che Lagarto. For US$13, we had more variety and quantity of meat then I have ever seen below. The picture here is about 1/3 what they made, not to mention the full table of breads, vegetables, salads … and a free Caipirinha (sugar cane rum, lime, sugar). We had a bartender doing bar tricks (at one point he juggled bottles lit on fire), and a live band playing traditional Brazilian music. A fantastic party!
12:00pm – We head out to join the locals at the town “Centro”, or central square. Live music, bars surrounding the square, and thousands of people just hanging out. It was like a South American version of New Orleans, and just as exciting. Even managed to find a bar to see the Packers get slaughtered.
Stay tuned for Day 2…