When I finally left Ihla Grande the lights were still out and I was ready to move on. I had come on a tourist transfer from Rio but was running low on Reals (Brazilian currency) and the island had no ATMs or at that point no working credit card machines. No fancy tourist transfer for me, this girl was going public transportation all the way. I took the public boat to the public bus. The buses in Brazil usually have two people working. One is the driver and the second is the person who collects money. Once you pay the money they buzz you through the turn style. Well the turn style isn’t huge so there was no chance in hell of both me and my pack fitting through at the same time. In the front of the bus they have an area for old people or pregnant women or in my case, tourists which giant backpacks. I was the only non-local and I have no idea when I needed to get off. I asked a few people but they all looked at me somewhat confused and answered in rapid Portuguese with some hand gestures. At this point it was already dark and because the power was out on the island I hadn’t been able to book my next hostel. I was pretty nervous but didn’t really have a choice so I just kept going and in the end I made it! The bus dropped me at the main station where within 5 minutes of wandering around I found a tourist desk. A French guy (who I would end up seeing every day in one place or another) working for the tourist board asked me if I liked breakfast on the beach? Um, yup, what’s not to love? He ordered me a taxi and I was at Chill Inn Hostel.
The hostel needed me to pay immediately but I was basically out of money and they too did not take a card. I started walking and hit the historic part of the town. I was not in a good mood but it was so pretty that it was impossible not to like historic center. Considering I have zero sense direction I was immediately lost. I stopped several people and asked for the correo (ATM) but not everyone understood me so I clarified with A-T-M (spelled in Spanish which is what it’s call in many Central American countries). Wandering around, wandering around and still no ATM. One thing that didn’t help was that the road is paved with rocks. Not stones, rocks. Rocks of all sizes and shapes. I spent more time looking at my feet then I did looking for the ATM. I walked forever, up and down the various (adorable, well lit) streets. I asked another person and realized wait, is the ATM open? Maybe it was may be in a store that had already closed? I asked and was told oh, no it’s closed. Great, I am looking for a closed ATM. I found a decent Italian restaurant and sat down to drown my I-can’t-find-the-f’ing-ATM sorrows in some pasta. The meal was nothing great but the owner took pity on me being alone and gave me the wifi password. Score! After a few days without internet it was nice to reconnect. Went back to the hostel and told them they would just have to wait.
The next day I woke up and headed across the street to the hostel bar where breakfast was served. Bread, cheese, ham, cake, pineapple, watermelon, sweet melon, papaya, butter/jam/dulce de leche, passion fruit juice and coffee really helps a girl start the day right. All that plus a beautiful view really shaped my new impression of Paraty. I decided to get caught up on emails, lounge around and then head into town to look for the illusive ATM. Same process – lost again, wandered around, asked people for the correo. All of a sudden I had an ah-ha moment. I had been asking for the correo but I needed the cajero. This whole time I had been asking for directions to the post office, not the ATM. OMG, seriously? Spanish fail. Within minutes of asking for the cajero I found one. Except it didn’t take international cards. 10 more minutes of walking and I found another one. Oh good, this one isn’t take international card either. 10 more minutes of walking and I found a 3rd ATM and finally was able to take out money! I totally did a little happy dance in middle of the lobby of the bank. Public shame be damned I had spent hours and many miles finding that damn ATM! Money in hand I was much more comfortable and relaxed. On the way back to the hostel I had my first fresh churro of the trip. It was delicious. Life was good. I was happy. That night the hostel had a bonfire on the beach. I met my new roommates, two french sisters that were super friendly, two Swedish guys (one super cute and chatty, the other a little quiet but nice) and an American girl in Brazil on a Fulbright. It was great, everyone was friendly and chatting about their lives/travels.
I had planned to leave the next day but realized that I should take advantage of the beach time while I had it so I booked another night. I laid out on the hostel beach which certainly wasn’t the nicest beach in town but was nice and low key. It was Sunday so it was mostly local families. It was nice to just lay out and people watch. Tons of cute little kids just running around and playing in sand. A group of older Brazilians to my right talking loudly and laughing in Portuguese. It felt like local culture and I was just soaking it up. That night Iva, the other American and I went into town for por kilo (buffet that you pay for by weight) restaurant and I was going to do laundry. You know you have been traveling/have a limited supply of underwear when the idea of doing laundry is at least as exciting if not more than the thought of going to the beach! We wandered around some more and realized the laundromat is closed on Sundays. Oh well, clean underwear would have to wait… we headed back for the hostel. New roommates, 4 people from Wales. Super nice and we decided to throw our clothes in together and split the cost of the hostel laundry service – came out to about $5, probably the same amount as doing it myself. That night we heard there was a bar in town that made really good caipirinhas and considering there was nothing going on at the beach we all decided to go for it! It took about 20 minutes to walk there and was totally worth it. They used brown cachaca which is mulled with spices and honey. We had the bar speciality – with passionfruit. It was by far the best drink I had in Brazil and trust me, I had sampled many!
The next day the group from Wales, the french girl and I decided to go to Trindade a nicer beach about 30 minutes away. It was gorgeous. I think even nicer than Ihla Grande. We walked the length of the beach and found a little restaurant with tables on the beach to make camp for the day. The waves were intense but it was great to get in the water – especially after the super long hike along the beach. We spent about 5 hours there and then caught the bus back to Paraty. I had my first skype home – it was great to see my parents! After that we all threw in whatever food we had and made a smorgasbord dinner of salad, pasta and an scrambled egg/omelet-thingy. It was good, we were all pretty hungry after the beach. Most of the talk was around politics that night – American gun laws, Scotland’s referendum vote and the French unemployment insurance. Interesting, even more so after a good bit of wine.
The next morning I left at 8 am for a 6 hour bus to Sao Paulo. Two hour layover and a 16 hour bus to Foz do Iguacu. I was seriously dreading the bus time but actually it was totally fine and I slept most of the way. Maybe it’s the sun, maybe it’s the walking, maybe it’s the Portuguese.. I don’t know but I have been getting super tired everyday so it was surprisingly nice to catch up on sleep!