It was the description in our guidebook that first caught my attention.
‘UNESCO considers Parati to represent one of the world's most important examples of Portuguese colonial architecture….The town centre was one of Brazil's first planned urban projects, and its narrow cobbled streets, out of bounds to motorized transport, are bordered by houses built around courtyards…’
When we arrived by bus from
I was surprised to find the very bumpy stone streets quite wet in places, which seemed odd since it hadn't been raining. As we walked down towards the waterfront, we realized what was happening. The streets were being flooded by the ocean. I didn't learn until much later, this was not an accident. It was by design. At high tides, and especially at full moon, water would enter the town and flood the streets, washing away excrement from donkeys and goodness knows what else. A local artist told us that at certain times the water could be so high, he would be stranded if he didn’t leave in time, and have to arrange for a donkey and cart to transport him away from his studio.
Over the years, many of the buildings have been converted to pousadas, art galleries, restaurants, and shops. Much of the town is now geared to tourists, and has become a venue for conferences. While we were there, we met some physicists who had been attending a week long session on quantum physics. I know that my good friend John Swift would have liked it, since he got so much enjoyment from the film ‘What the Bleep do we Know?’ that we saw together one evening in Vancouver.
Since we arrived without accommodation we immediately went to the nearby tourist information centre. We were told the town was essentially booked up for the weekend, but after our expressions of regret, were found accommodation at the Hotel Coxixo, one of the larger hotels in the historic centre. As it turned out, the town was by no means booked up, but would be the next weekend, since the annual cachaca festival was taking place. (Cachaca is to
The hotel was very charming, but unusual in that everywhere there were photos and memorabilia of some actress. It was like a shrine to her and there was even a small theatre on the property. It turned out the hotel was owned by Maria Della Costa, once one of
In addition to just wandering around, we went on two outings. The first was a schooner trip to some nearby islands in the bay that included an opportunity to go snorkeling. After being at the
We also took a jeep expedition to the
Each evening, we had good meals, including a bouillabaisse ordered a day in advance at a small French restaurant run by a chef from Marseille. Other restaurants were often selected based on the quality of the music.
We enjoyed listening to non English speaking singers doing songs in English. While some were quite good, no one compared with the girl from
One evening we went to the theatre. While I was concerned whether we would understand the dialogue, I need not have been. The Grupo Contadores de Estorias performed with puppets, and without dialogue. And without strings. ‘Direct manipulation’ is the trademark of the company. Their production included seven ‘adult oriented’ scenes including an old man playing fiddle, an elderly couple flirting, and something called ‘erotic awakening and rebirth’. Fortunately, I slept through much of it.
At breakfast each day, we chatted with two Americans who were in Parati scripting a film with an older Brazilian man. When we told them we were from
On our last morning we told them we were off to