Not even the end of week 2 and it already feels like month 2 with all the bouncing around we have been doing. Since we first disembarked we have stayed in a total of 3 different homes. This makes more sense from a financial perspective because we are closer to the things we want to do, enabling us to walk and use public transportation. My calves are going to be so big, I can’t even guess how many miles we have walked so far. A simple trip to the store to get items for dinner turns into a 30 block adventure. Exploring the cities by our ears and hearts. Seeing everything from the local bars to street musicians, you never know what the next corner has to offer! We sometimes get lost along the way, but this is how we get to see the real culture of where we’re staying.
Ah, the quaint town of Paraty. Pronounced by locals (PEAR-A-CHEE), it is known for it’s colonial-like appearance and cobblestone streets of which the bay washes during the high tide. We arrive via thankful car ride from our new friends Matt and Liam. The drive was along Costa Verde, which is exactly as it translates. A beautiful green coast with eventful winding roads and unseeable speed bumps. Upon driving into this “backpacker town” you are greeted with the not-so-car-friendly cobblestone streets. After a slight struggle to find the location of our first sleeping quarters, we took off in the late afternoon to explore the town. We scoped out our activity options for the next day and ate at one of the local restaurant-buffets. This “next day” was the most eventful so far. I had read online that the best way to explore the neighboring islands was via rinky-dink private boat. The not so better sounding alternative was the popular double decker boats. These are including, but not limited to: loud crowds featuring sweaty people, unlimited sketchy alcohol, loud music, and a floatie. No thank you. So, we strolled the dock listening to the captains barter with us from afar. We settled on a small vessel driven by a local young man. We discussed price, in detail, and then headed off for the day. The Good news? It was a beautiful day. Our 5 hour tour consisted of snorkeling, beaches, and sunbathing on the roof of our private boat as we strolled along from island to island.
Bad news? How about a play-by-play? I stumble off the boat with a motion-sick body, but still excited about the wonderful day we had. Uriah got to snap a picture with the boatman, we small talked in a partially English partially Portuguese kind of way, and all was well. Uriah hands him the money and the boatman looks confused. Why? Oh, because our awesome non-existent Portuguese skills have fooled us once again! No sir, it’s not R$40 per person for 5 hours it’s R$400 total for 5 hours…..I would describe Uriah’s face as a blank stare/shocked kind of look. We explained to him that we triple verified the price with him before we left, using all our charade skills and then some (I still don’t understand how you can’t understand numbers via fingers). We stated we wouldn’t have got on if we knew it was going to be this much. You couldn’t have moved this guy with a bulldozer. We tried to explain this in every which way, all the while typing on google translator via semi-existent service. The end result? After a 2…HOUR…ordeal he escorted us to first our place and then to a bank to “happily” hand him is R$400. Was it the best R$400 we’ve ever spent? Heck no, but we in turn received a good expensive lesson number 2: ALWAYS TYPE OUT NUMBERS TO VERIFY AGREEMENTS! We were also semi fortunate enough that he was nicer than most others would have been and felt bad about the communication error. My non-sea legged self was “about as useful as tits on a boar hog”, as Uriah’s mom would say. I took a nap and left Uriah no time to recover from the days debacle, being that we still didn’t have a place to stay for the next night and research needed to be done. Matt and Liam took us out to dinner to a delicious Thai restaurant enabling us to end the night on a good note. We got to share our story of the day making us realize the humor in it all. My vegetable-like status was still present and I hit the hay early. Uriah got to pull his first all-nighter for the trip, booking places for the next couple of nights.
The next day was spent moving to a new location and recouping from our hurt wallet. We also got to make a not so delicious dinner of spaghetti. This whole cooking at home to save money thing has been easier said than done. Going to a grocery store here is not like going to Publix back home. You have small stores which have popular items at a more expensive cost. Or you have “super” markets which are harder to come by. Here, in Brazil, you have a surplus of: fresh baked bread, fresh fruits, spreadable cheese, watery yogurt, and sweets beyond reason. What you don’t have: refrigerated milk, cold eggs, cereal options and a few others. What’s cheap: mostly everything compared to the U.S., especially BEER, my new favorite being Bohemia. Back to the spaghetti dinner, at the store the sauce they have comes in packets. We have come to find out that pasta sauce here pretty much all tastes like Chef Boyardee, even in restaurants. Hence why the not so delicious dinner.
We also found out, after a couple of hours slowly loading web pages, that the bus to Curitiba didn’t have a conversion for U.S. addresses online so we had to take a trip to the station. After standing in a long line and in a surprisingly crowded bus station, we found out that the soonest we could leave was the day after next. This day we had hoped to take advantage of other popular attractions this city has to offer. A hike to a local waterfall was at the top of our list, but learning from lesson 1 we decided planning for our trip to Curitiba was more important.
We boarded our bus at 3 p.m. the next day. Although packed with people, it was pleasantly comfortable. On the agenda was a six hour bus ride to Sao Paulo and then a 5 hour ride to Curitiba. It was a little unsettling knowing we could only buy our bus tickets to Curitiba upon arrival at the Sao Paulo bus station when we arrived. But, it was no big deal being there were buses leaving every 30 minutes until midnight. Well guess again! Sure, you can buy your ticket in Sao Paulo when you arrive, in which we were supposed to at 9 p.m. But, our bus took TWELVE hours instead of six, due to one way roads and traffic. We didn’t get there until TWO IN THE MORNING. The next bus? 6 a.m. Our night was spent sleeping via cement floor in the “Grand Central” like bus station. Our bus was also 2 hours late to Curitiba putting us there at 1 p.m. instead of 6 a.m. The good news is we arrived safe and sound with details to come! Happy travels from U and B!