Sao Paulo is the largest and richest city in Brazil and with a population of over 10 million it´s the most populous city in Brazil, South America and the southern hemisphere. We arrived to the bus station at 5.15am and, at 6am, bought our bus ticket for the 8am bus to Paraty (42 reais/14 pounds).
270km west of Rio is a bit of coastline known as the Costa Verde (the Green Coast). The scenery is stunning, lush rainforests, huge mountains, lagoons, secluded bays and tropical islands. The beautiful colonial town of Paraty is furthest away from Rio, an ancient gold and coffee port. We arrived at 2pm and checked into the Historic Centre Hostal (30 reais/4 bed dorm). Paraty has a lovely historic centre and is surrounded by amazing beaches with mountains in the background. We strolled around on the pesde - moleque, street urchins feet which is the locals name for the irregular cobblestone streets. The buildings have simple lines, are very colourful and there are some lovely old churches. It has a great feel to the place, the locals are friendly and there are too many gorgeous boutique shops! We had a cheap pasteis (dough filled with melted cheese & ham) for lunch and stocked up on the delicious fruit and the biggest avocados I have ever seen! For dinner we ate the best fish ever cooked by William, a friend of the owners, and he kept us happy with lots of very strong cachaca and fresh passionfruit!
Last Friday we got a local bus, playing the loudest music ever, to village called Trindade, 27km away. There´s an absolutely gorgeous, quiet beach so we walked along it, had a paddle (the water was freezing) and then had a relazing Brahma beer on the beach. It was a pity the sun wasn´t out but it was still a great place to visit. That night the whole hostel went out for drinks at a local bar which was good fun.
On Saturday we caught the two hour bus, further up the Green Coast towards Rio, to a place called Angra dos Reis and from here we jumped on the boat to Ilha Grande. This tropical island has 102 beaches which are surrounded by rainforests, waterfalls and lots of walking trails. It´s also vehicle-free (wheel barrows are used to transport things around) and the police use a golf buggy! We were met of the boat by a German guy called Marcus who told us about his pousada (guesthouse) called Casa Grande. The price was right (60 reais/room, 20 pound) so we decided to take a look, and oh my god what a good decision that was. His beautiful old house was set back off the main road, surrounded by forest, lots of wildlife noises, a big garden with a lovely veranda full of hammocks. Our ensuite double room was lovely and we knew we´d be able to have a nice break here. Ilha Grande itself is such a friendly place, everyone says hello to you with a smile and there is a very relaxed atmosphere. We had dinner at a por kilo restaurant which is a cheap way to eat in Brazil as it serves food by weight and includes fresh veg, rice, beans and meat.
Sunday the weather wasn´t great so we started the day with the best breakfast (Cafe de Manha) I think we´ve had (except for Poppies!) - fresh orange juice, pineapple, papaya, mango, banana, granola, yogurt, cake, bread, lovely honey and rolls with ham and cheese (lunch for us!). As we were eating a family of monkeys came down a tree to say hello and try and get some banana. Apparently they are micos monkeys with grey fur, stripped tails and tiny scrooge-like faces - very cute!We spent the rest of the day chilling in the hammocks and I finally finished Madam Secretary - A Memoir of Madeleine Albright (1st female & 64th secretary of state) - the HEAVIEST travelling book in the world!! I also couldn´t resist trying some bolo (cake) from a glass trolley that men wheel around which is filled with every cake you can imagine - chocolate, toffee, lemon, egg custard. I had a peanut & chocolate slab with a cup of tea - very English!
Monday was sunny so we did the, quite hard, 2hr trail to the prison ruins of Antigo Presidio on the other side of the island. On the way we passed the soldiers swimming pool which is a clear pool where the soldiers used to bathe and quench their thirst after walking from Vila Do Abraao to the prison. Antigo Presidio used to be a hospital and in 1910 was converted to a prison until it was destroyed by dynamite in the early 1960´s. The area around the prison ruins is like a place that time forgot. The houses are deserted and the only people you see are a couple of guards checking who is in the area. Dois Rois beach is nearby and stretches for miles and was deserted. There was a bit of sun so we sunbathed and had a dip in the clear water lagoon and then walked the 2hrs back to where we were staying - Vila do Abraao (main village on the island).
On Tuesday we made our way to Rio, via the ferry and bus, I finished a little book called `Heroin´ by Julie O´Toole, and have been here ever since, lots of love xxxx