|Parati is a beautiful old colonial port which had its hayday in the 1700s when the gold from the mines in Minas Gerais, put onto ships here bound for Europe, and the slaves from Africa (who unbeknown to them were about to become miners) were unloaded. With all that trade came tremendous wealth which as all good catholics know should, in part, be used for the construction of churches. The combination of churches, cobbled streets (a significant test for a novice flip-flop wearer) and colourfully painted old houses now make Parati a major tourist destination.
Paintings and sculptures abound at every turn and Naomi keeps telling it must be like St Ives - although neither of us have ever been there. It is certainly a very arty and musicy type of place with every other shop selling local paintings and every cafe and bar featuring live bossanova music. The music is great but some of the more Trotteresque bar owners have taken to charging an "artistic" cover charge for the benefit! When Del Boy adds 10% service on top as well I have taken to insisting that Pedro puts down his guitar and starts serving a few drinks too.
My total failure to attend a live football game in South America continues and so I could not have been more disappointed to find that Brazil were playing Portugal "at home" in London! Typical that Kaka should be strutting his stuff only miles away from our house while we are drinking Caipirinha just down the road from Rio whilst watching him on TV! Still, at least when Portugal stuck their second goal in, the Brazilians could take satisfaction from the cover charge!
In addition to walking the streets and visiting the churches (N thinks that I may have taken a few too many photos) in the lovely old town, the thing to do in Parati is to rent yourself a boat and spend the day visting the numerous islands and beaches along this stretch of coastline where the only thing seperating the forest from the sea is the sand. Swimming in the warm water whilst our skipper was making Caipirnihas is certainly a fine way to spend the day!
Parati was also a bit of a reality check for us, as it was the first time that we had been back travelling by bus and seeking out a cheap posada since we had left Chile. It did seem rather odd to be washing under a slightly dodgey thermo-type shower whilst using soap from the Sofitel and shampoo from the Hyatt! Still, we had to get used to it again some time...
PS. Please see the entry for Belo Horizonte in relation to the photographs displayed here.