After our 4 month long stay in Rio de Janeiro, we returned to Ilha Grande for a last time. Frans completed his full time work and we were able to spend much more time exploring and sailing around. We made a decision to start at the town of Paraty. Paraty (pronounced pa-ra-chee) lies on the mainland, 20 miles to the West of Ilha Grande.
This town was once used as a port to ship gold from the interior to Rio de Janeiro. After the linking of the mines directly by road to Rio, Paraty subsided into what it is today. A delightful town with a colourful heritage and colourful appearance. It is a real tourist attraction and with good reason.
From the anchorage it is possible to see the old town with the church as a definite marker. We loved waking up to this sight in the morning.
As one approaches the town with the dingy, you realise that there is one very long jetty crowded with smaller “party boats”. We were there during the off season and did not see many of them in use. Some were covered with hearts and others were painted bright pink. We think these are meant for small parties of international tourists, not necessarily Brazilians.
We ended up pulling our dingy up onto the beach as it didn’t look safe to tie up to the jetty. We do not have an anchor to tie to our stern as the “party boats” do. It was low tide and we pulled it up really high onto the beach. It was a cloudy, rainy day and all we noticed was that the sand was blackish.
The “old town” is definitely the most interesting. The buildings are mainly white with very bright, colourful shuttering and doors.
All the streets are built out of stones and are sloped to the middle to form canals. Walking these streets is a real art. It is impossible to take a step without looking at your feet. The little shops and their merchandise are very arresting, so that the walking happens in stages: Stop, look at the shops, look down and walk a little way, stop, look up……… repeat J.
The streets were designed as canals so that the whole town could be flushed clean during high tide. In the old days this meant that the sewage dumped on the streets would be cleaned out twice a day. When entering the town it was low tide and only as we returned did we see the water fill the streets.
We had to detour a few times as it was impossible to cross an intersection without getting wet.
We amused some fishermen as we launched our dingy to return to Shang Du. Unwittingly trying to walk over the same sand as we did while landing the dingy, we suddenly sank deep into the black sand. The high tide saturates the sand but does not alter the appearance at all.
The next day promised sunnier weather and we really wanted to visit the Fort when we could appreciate the view so, we decided to stay one more day.
We were delighted when we walked onto the beach the next day. In the sunlight the blackish beach sand glimmered with golden spots and Franci found it a real challenge to capture this on camera. It really looked like fool’s gold mixed with black sand.
The fort was a lovely, lovely walk with a beautiful view. Well worth waiting for a sunny day. A black dog joined us for the walk up to the fort. He acted just as if we owned him – freaking us out a bit – waiting for us when we fell behind. The best part was when he turned into the entrance to the Fort. He just somehow knew that we were heading there.
He neither begged for any scraps of our picnic, nor demanded much attention. After the descend, as soon as we passed a certain restaurant on the beach – round about where he joined us – he nonchalantly flopped down onto the sand without so much as a goodbye.
I’m convinced that for the girls, the best part of the day was the buying of the hammock. Ever since playing on a hammock on the Yoshima’s boat, they’ve wanted one for Shang Du. It was nearly twilight as we got back to our boat, but up the hammock went.
Immediately the dilemma: ONE hammock for FOUR girls? Also, the obvious fact that the yacht is symmetrical and that there is a similar space on the port side begging for another….. Well, in the end we sent all four of them off with the dingy to buy a second hammock. They loved the freedom of “going on their own” and we have not been sorry yet.