Photogenic Paraty calls to memory the vibrant colors of Cartagena and the cobblestone charm of Charleston, topped off with a heavy does of Cachaça and a squirt of lime. Colonized in the sixteenth century by the Portuguese, Paraty became a central shipping hub for gold exported from the region of Minas Gerais and a busy port for slaves coming in to work in the mines and sugar cane fields. When the gold began to run out in the late 18th century, Pararty's economy declined, to be revived a century later by the coffee trade and the production of Brazil's most prized spirit, Cachaça. Today the city lives off tourism, cozy bed & breakfasts, sail boat tours to the many islands and coves, horse-drawn carriage rides through the impeccably decaying historic center and the sale of lots and lots of Capirinhas.
The streets are filled with tourists from all over the world stumbling through the uneven stone paved ruas, live music floats from every restaurant and quaint little shops overflow with local handicrafts, tiny bikinis, and colorful, flowing garments. At night, the plaza is lined with tables crowded with lively imbibed people, artisans selling their goods, and cute old men pushing carts filled with delectable sweets.
Brazil is expensive. Far too expensive for this budget backpacker to even pretend to be on vacation. I hit the job search immediately and found a welcoming staff of foodies at Restaurante Bartholomeu where I am now bar-tending serving on the weekends. The menu is a harmonious mix of classic Brazilian dishes with French, Thai, and Argentinean influences that results in a beautiful array of curries, seafood, banana-coconut purees, and Argentine beef. They also feed the staff far too well here; in the three days I work, I eat enough to survive the rest of the week. I pass the afternoons making fresh, tropical fruit juices and I've learned to make a damn good capirinha. During my breaks I stroll the streets or sit in the plaza people watching and reading my book in Portuguese. Life is tranquilo and full of postcard worthy moments. Here is a glimpse into life in Paraty...
|moon rise in Praia Jabacuara|