17 January, 2014

Don't Ever Change

The tiny colonial seaside port town of Paraty (say: pah-rah-CHEE) has seen many incarnations since it was first settled in the 1500's.  Since then, this modest town has played part in the import of miners and export of gold from the adjacent state of Minas Gerais and then for coffee after that.  Each industry eventually ended their mutual relationship with the port after the development of roads from other coastal locales such as Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo, which proved to be time-saving in terms of travel.

Consisting mostly of one or two-story white-washed colonial-era buildings with brightly colored doors and windows, Paraty is an easy place to get lost in.  Not physically, since it spans only a handful of blocks in any given direction, but mentally, as any visitor is easily transported to a simpler time.  It is not difficult to imagine horses clomping down the cobble-stoned streets, now off-limits to cars.  (And these cobble-stones are not small; it behooves pedestrians to keep one eye on their next step at all times.)

For a small town, it is strange to find so many churches scattered throughout its historic center.  Though small, and all Catholic, it turns out each was intended for different congregants: one for wealthy whites (built in 1800), one for slaves (1725), and another (1722) for mulattos - children of mixed race, but not necessarily slaves.

Before numeric addresses, most postage was directed to a street name and
door color, making it preferable to not have repeated colors on the same block.

The bay of Paraty is dotted with many small islands leading out to the open Atlantic Ocean.  We boarded a schooner for an afternoon of island hopping and enjoying the unique and majestic views of this region's coastline, known as the Mata Atlantica, a geographic and ecologic region with characteristics unique only to here (which I've had the pleasure to visit twice before whilst in Ubatuba and Ilha Grande).

Afternoon on the schooner Moana, touring the Bay of Paraty.

The beaches in Paraty are nothing to write home about, however, those of the islands in the bay, as well as several a short drive to the south are among the best in Brazil.  We ventured to the community of Trinidade, an old fishing village now filled with pousadas, restaurants, and hostels, to settle on Praia Meio for an afternoon.

Excuse the duck-face and douche-y peace sign - too much sun and
beautiful scenery make me a wannabe a surfer-bro.

It was a great decision that Brazil made Paraty a National Historic Site back in the 1960's, thus preserving its character for that niche group of tourists who want some sun and sand with a lot of timeless charm.

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