Posted by: glenswatman | April 1, 2010

20100321-31 BRAZIL

21 MARCH –
It is after 9am when we wake up and
join the family for breakfast.  Last
night Bruno invited us to his family home for a BBQ lunch.   The 6 of us drive over to his home where his
parents Solange and Blair welcome us along with Blair’s brother and wife and Bruno’s
brothers so there is quite a gathering.  Alex
cooks the meat and it is the best we have had so far in South America.  We also try Brazilian homemade Easter egg, a
kind of plain chocolate double shell with coconut mixture in between,
absolutely delicious.  On the way back we
go to the local dam and see young lads diving into the water.  Nearby is the new house that Vitor is having
built on a country estate.  It is huge
with plans for a BBQ area and swimming pool to finish it off.  The estate has a nice lake and there we see
geese and capivari. 



22 MARCH –
Marcela and Lucia take us to San
Jose bus station where we catch a bus to the coast at Caraguatatuba (11am
Litoranea R20 1h 15m).  Junior picks us
up from the bus station and drives us out to the family restaurant “Bar do
Japones”  We meet his Dad Paulo and brother Hiro who
also work there.  It is behind a
delightful beach separated from the main beaches by some hills.  We are given a nice dinner then Junior takes
us out for a drive.  On the hill above
the city is a statue of Saint Antonio and superb panoramic views.  We return to spend the rest of the afternoon
on the beach.  The restaurant is open
until 10pm so we walk back to the family home. 
We just get in when a huge storm begins. 
They have 3 dogs and the big fat one called “Boo” keeps trying to get
into the house.  Eventually he pushes and
forces a panel in the bottom of the door to gain entry then just sits in the
corner of a room and goes to sleep.   When the family get back they are not that



23 MARCH –
The restaurant is closed on Tuesdays
so Junior is free to take us for a drive. 
We pick up his friend Rodriguez then go for lunch, it is only 11.30am
but Junior is starving.  It is one of
those restaurants where you pay per kilo and Junior eats so much that his bill
is more than Steve and mine put together.  
Heading down the coast we are opposite Ilhabella where we were docked
last week, there’s a ship in today and it is the HAL Veendam that we went to
Antarctica on – this ship seems to pop up everywhere.  Sao Sebastio has some nice brightly painted
colonial buildings in the centre and many nice beaches to the south.  Junior’s family originally came from Japan
and he has stayed there for a few years so we learn a lot from him about the
country and customs and hope to visit in the future.  When we get back we spend the afternoon on
Prahina beach again. 



24 MARCH –
Heading up the coast we take a bus
to Paraty (9.40am Util R24.50), a great ride past some really beautiful
beaches.  Unfortunately 5 minutes before
Paraty the bus makes a half hour lunch stop, now why they couldn’t make the
lunch stop in Paraty beats me.  Paraty is
famous as it has an amazing historic centre with the old buildings all painted
white but with different coloured window frames and doors.  The road and pavement are all huge cobble
stones with the filling so badly eroded that you feel like you are walking on
stepping stones.  Our trolley bags will
need new shock absorbers by the time we leave. 
We want to be by the beach so walk about 2km to Praia do Pontal,
discount the backpackers as being either noisy or basic and settle on Pousada
do Praiha with a very nice double room, en suite, air con, TV, fridge, wi-fi,
breakfast and swimming pool negotiated to R80 (£30).  We are just a few yards from the beach, can
see the ocean from our bedroom window, and so head there for a late lunch.  Whilst Couchsurfing is brilliant at times it
is nice to eat what and when we want. 
Early evening we walk through the historic centre which looks really
pretty all lit up.  The whole town has a
very safe and laid back feel to it and it is a shame we have not allowed
ourselves longer to stay here.


R80 (£30)


25 MARCH –
We’d intended taking a bus to a
nearby beach but are all bussed out so settle for a relaxing day by the pool
and another wander around town.  Try to
walk over the hill to the next beach but end up back at ours! 



26 MARCH –
Take the bus to Rio (Rio Verde $49
at 11.20am) which is another scenic journey with nice coast views.  We are visiting people in Niteroi and have
been told to connect at the bus station but this does not work out.  It seems there is no connection within the
terminal and we have to walk up the road and to the flyover.  It is not a good area and knowing Rio is a
very dangerous city I feel quite intimidated as we are the only ones walking
the streets with luggage.  When we get to
the place we are told it is wrong and we must go back to the terminal and to a
place at the other side.  It is the head
of the afternoon and I get quite stressed by all this but equally know the taxi
drivers here are not good.  We have to take
a bridge over the main road to get to the local bus stop but still don’t see
the number bus we have been told to get. 
In the end we take the first bus that says Niteroi then a taxi onwards.  Gianluca is Italian and his wife Claudia
Brazilian.  She runs a travel agency and
he works with her.  They met through
Couchsurfing when he lived in Florence and she wrote asking about the
city.  They live in an apartment with
amazing views across the water to Rio. 
In the evening we take a bus to a park area with a restaurant and
bar.  They bring around a tray of
appetisers for you to pick from and the prawn mini pasty is delicious. Other
passing vendors put a small quantity of peanuts on the table as a sampler then
try to sell you a packet whilst others have trays of desserts.   Gianluca
recommends the “carne do sol”, translated as sun dried meat but actually it is
dried in the wind.  No matter it tastes a
bit like corned beef and as very good.  It
is a really hot night and our room has no air con or fan so we have to try to
sleep with the window open but the noise from outside is incredible.  We are opposite the city airport and have
planes flying almost overhead, cars below and music and people chattering.  Even taking cold showers only gives us
snatches of sleep. 



27 MARCH –
Claudia is 5 months pregnant so
likes to relax at the weekend.  We join
them for a walk to the “country club” a kind of leisure centre in the
city.  R10 (£3.75) gets us in to use the
25m outdoor pool.  Spend a very pleasant
day reading, swimming and chatting.  In
the evening we sit out on the balcony eating cauliflower pasta cooked to one of
Gianluca’s recipes.  Gianluca is a
Couchsurfing ambassador and gives us lots of information about the group and
also some travel tips.



28 MARCH –
Steve has been up half the night
watching the Grand Prix but I have to wake him in the morning when I get news
that his Dad, who has been in hospital for sometime, is really not well.  We phone England and it sounds like we do not
need to rush back any sooner than our flight on Thursday.  To cap it all Steve has an upset stomach.  He misses out when we go to a beach
restaurant for a late lunch.  In the
evening our previous host Sergio arrives to pick us up.  Lisete has a pizza in the oven and Beatriz is
home whilst the boys are out.  Our Sao
Paulo friends have sent us a DVD of the carnival featuring the samba school
that we went to.  What we didn’t understand
was that when each school enters it has numerous huge floats each with many
dance troupes behind it, in total over 1000 people and a parade that last more
than 1-hour.  In Rio there are 2 categories
of entry and about 12 schools in each adding up to over 24 hours of continuous
parade time.  It is good to be back with
Sergio and family but unfortunately they are very busy with work so we will see
little of them.


MONDAY 29 MARCH – The family are all out and
Steve still has an upset stomach so I spend the day by the pool reading and
taking dips whilst Steve festers by the TV.  My laptop cable has broken
due to being carried badly in my back pack so I cannot use the laptop which is
very frustrating.  It is quite late when everyone returns so we don’t get
to spend much time together.  It has taken Leonardo over 2 hours to get
back from Rio due to the heavy traffic.


TUESDAY 30 MARCH – Gabriel is at home working on
his computer and lends me his old laptop.  We try to walk to the beach
which is supposed to be 10 minutes away but must go the wrong way as after half
an hour there is no sign of it.  The weather is very hot and humid and not
nice for walking so we abandon it in favour of the swimming pool.  I spend
a lot of time on the internet researching our onward trip.  Gabriel takes
Beatriz to her English lesson and me to the supermarket where I buy stuff to
cook us all a curry.  In typical form we get a very heavy thunder and
rainstorm in the evening which continues through the night.


WEDNESDAY 31 MARCH – Steve is feeling much better
and we could take a bus and go to Rio or somewhere else but we feel  at
this very late stage we don’t want to risk anything going wrong.  I manage
to book our onward flight to Australia with a stop over in Hong Kong and the
necessary buses and insurance to go with it so all is not wasted by any means. 
In the evening we share cheese and chocolate pizza as our farewell supper with
Lisete and Sergio.  Couchsurfing in
Brazil has been exceptional, the people seem to go out of their way to be
hospitable and this is one of the reasons we hope to return in 2014 for the
World Cup.




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