Friday, March 07, 2008

Costa Verde

The JeTZ philosophy on travel planning:
Arrive in a destination with barely, if any, knowledge of the place. Bide our time until we encounter a local or backpacker. Befriend said local/backpacker and extract from them their favourite destinations in and around the area. Head to those destinations next.
This is how we landed up in Isla Grande, an hour or so from Rio.  The Rabs and JeTZ boarded the schooner below praising our ability to have found a cheaper way to reach the island than taking the  official boat across.
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But that's probably because they pay the staff on board according to their age!
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The following day, we organised a boat trip which would take us around to different beaches and lagoons on the Island.
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At the first stop we could jump off the boat and snorkel. Unfortunately, Jez's hired snorkel is now home to a small family of lobsters after it fell into the murky ocean never to be seen again.
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On the boat we spotted this guy sporting a fantastic tattoo of Golom. We cannot believe the trouble people go to in order to make it into our blog!
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At the next stop we could swim out to a beach which had a beautiful warm lagoon waiting for us. There we found an enterprising photographer cashing in on people who had swum across without a camera. We took up his offer for a quick photoshoot.
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Isla Grande is basically a big forest. To access the beaches around the island involves either walking through trails in the forest or as we had done the previous day, taking a boat around. We decided to explore some of the trails and see what beaches we would land up in. This was one of our favourites.
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There was no beach to speak of so we just hung our bags on trees and waded around looking at fish.
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At night, we had a bit of routine going. It involved playing several rounds of Rummy or Truco (a Brazilian card game) while diligently drinking Johnnie Walker and Coke. Here mum makes it clear that there is no way they are schlepping around any more bottles of whiskey and if she has to she will finish them herself!
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Then the munchies would set in. By this time, most restaurants were closed leaving us with few options. Unfortunately, sometimes the food that was available was pretty bad...like this guy's crepes. Here TZ consoles Jez and promises him that we will find something else to eat.
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And that we did. The portable desert carriage was a big hit. It always delivered the best chocolate cake, rum balls or coconut slices.
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Next stop: The Rabs and the JeTZ cross back to the mainland and bus to the quaint colonial town of Paraty. Unfortunately when we got there, the weather had taken a turn for the worse...
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No matter, we braved the floods and walked into the cobbled streets of the old city to see what treasures we could find. This was a good start, a Cacha├žaria. How many kinds of Cacha├ža exactly? We dont know, but in the order of hundreds. Naturally we spent the next 2 months in Brazil drinking a lot of Caipirinhas until we managed to find the perfect one!
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The next day we took a walk to the estuary just outside the old city. Here we found an array of brightly coloured boats beckoning us to come for a ride.
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We were making ourselves comfortable on the top deck of the boat when we noticed our driver had a little trouble reversing.  Our anchor line managed to get in a tangle with the other boats.  The other drivers laughed and guffawed at his lack of reversing skills but he showed them all when he stripped down to his jocks, jumped in the water and freed us.
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But trouble followed us out to sea when Jez decided to tan his white arse on the top deck of the boat. The Water Rats in Paraty let Jez off with a warning: If he wishes to take off his underwear, could he please wear this red life saver to spare him his dignity. Perhaps those present at Jez's bux party will understand the significance of this better.IMGP0517IMGP0514
We returned to Rio where we would have to say our farewells. TZ's onset of homesickness finally kicked in after 1.5 years of not seeing her family.  But good times were still ahead for all. The Rabs would continue their holiday in South America with a visit to Iguazu Falls and Buenos Aires. And the JeTZ were due north to visit more of Brazil's beautiful beaches.
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Coming up, despite their very best attempts to get to Salvador, the JeTZ land up in a beautiful beach town made famous by Bridget Bardot and a not so exciting colonial town made famous by Portuguese royalty.

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