Last night we went for a nice dinner, and wandering through the town. What I find odd is that we’re starting to run into restaurants that price a meal for 2 people, but if only one person wants to order it, they charge you 60-70% of the price. So for dinner we all paired up and ordered together to keep the costs down. Phil & I split a very tasty order of filet mignons with salad & fries. After dinner we wandered farther into town and ran into a band in the street that was celebrating the holiday Brazil was having over the weekend. We watched them walk back and forth, then went into “Bar Che” and Zema treated us to a drink called Gabriela which is sort of a cinnamin-y flavored alcohol. Different & nice. After that we broke out and ordered all sorts of fruit caipirinhas. Of the ones I remember, I had Mango, Tim had strawberry, Seamus had kiwi. It all made for a very colorful line-up. I headed home for the night and crashed. My legs & feet were still swollen from the 24 hours of traveling, so I figured lots of water and sleep were in order.
Today was the tour of Trindade Beaches, plus a rare opportunity to enjoy some of the food and entertainment for the celebrations at one of the Negra communities. At some point after slavery, some blacks in Brazil decided to move to rural areas and form independent communities. There aren’t a lot of those that still exist, and this was a holiday to celebrate them and their culture. We stopped by on the way to the beach to ask if it would be possible for us to come eat and watch some of the entertainment and were told we’d likely be the only tourists there.
The surfing beach at Trindade (treen-dazhe) was lovely. It had these immense boulders all over, and when we got in the surf was incredibly powerful, but great fun. From there we loaded up and went to another part of Trindade beach and there we ran into the Aussie and German couples who hadn’t joined the tour. Our guides led un on across the beach and on a hike to the natural swimming pool that was bounded by some of the gigantic boulders. Some of it was very slippery, and they said it gets really dangerous if it’s been raining at all. The pool was very nice and sheltered, though this also meant that the rocks and sand weren’t as soft as they otherwise might have been. If you tried walking in the pool rather than standing, it definitely took a toll on your feet. We had to back-track in time to make it to the village for lunch and the entertainment, so they took us across a short cut that had us climbing over huge rocks, and then crawling up and across a steep flat rock face. I took photos, but the pitch isn’t really apparent from the photo. On the way we spotted fresh coconuts, so Enzo, Emilie, Bhavisha and I got some. The coconut water was very refreshing and really cold, so it was a good antidote to the heat.
We were a little late, and missed the capoeira performance while trying to reapply sunblock and get ourselves out of the van. The lunch they served was outstanding. We had the traditional peasant dish of Brazil, which is fejoida served with rice, as well as fish cooked with banana. I wouldn’t have ordered it from a menu because fish with banana sounds like a bad idea, but the fish was tasty. We listened and watched the samba performance. Our guide explained that the singer and the older guitarist were both very well-know Sambistas (samba performers) in the region.
From there, we went to what they called the rock slide. We had no idea what Zema was talking about when he explained it, but as soon as we saw it we just thought “FUN!” this was a smooth, sloping rock face in the middle of a big creek/small river, so that water runs down the face of it, and people slide down to the pool at the bottom. We were stunned to watch some of the young local guys go the whole way standing up, sort of like barefoot water-skiing. I got some on video, but I don’t know if the clips will be short enough for the website to let me upload them. If not, then I’ll figure something else out. At any rate, it was amazing to watch these daredevils. At one point, a kid was lying down across the rock, and another got a running start, skidded on his feet, and jumped the guy lying down and went the rest of the way. Unbelievable!! We actually applauded. I was a little chicken at first, and the whole group except Gesche & me actually went twice before I sucked it up and went on the last round before we had to leave. It was a little scary but exhilarating.
When we got everyone out, we went further up the trails to a suspended bridge with a sign which said only two people were allowed on it at a time. Yikes! Gulp. Not a huge fan of heights. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be, and then we got down to a pool and a waterfall we could sit down in. On the way back across the bridge, someone behind me was wiggling it a bit, so I was just trying to hang on and get across as quickly as possible.
Last stop of the day was at a distillery where they make cachacas, which is the base alcohol for caipirinhas. They let us try all sorts of different flavors like honey, pineapple, mango, cherry, and some others. My favorite ended up being Jabuticaba, which is some sort of a berry-ish thing that we don’t have at home, but it was very tasty.
We rolled on back to our hotel and were exhausted. I figured out that despite multiple, generous applications of SPF50, my back and shoulders were still sunburned. Bhav kept saying she just didn’t understand when in the world I could possibly have gotten that much direct sun. I had no idea either, but dutifully went and bought a big bottle of aloe gel. Ah well. My cousin Cathy posted on Facebook that this shouldn’t happen with my Italian genes, but I told her that in my case the Irish, German, English, Scottish, etc genes clearly kicked the snot out of the Italian ones on this front.
Zema was generous enough to spend his time making us a traditional dish (I’ve now forgotten the name) that used to be eaten by the Brazilian cowboys that had salty beef, rice and other ingredients all mixed together. It was nice and we all had a good time, even while cleaning up and washing all the pans and dishes. We all crashed early as we’d had a few late nights.
Day 11-12 Paraty
Next stop is Paraty, a quaint colonial town on the coast renowned for its architecture. The pace is slow but do not let this fool you as there is a lot to choose from. You can visit an old plantation or Fazenda and try some artisan cachaça or take a boat ride to one of the many secluded beaches outside of the city.