We spent a week in Paraty, a small coastal town on the Costa Verde, between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The town was great - full of cobbled streets (that are less like cobbles and more like random placing of big, treacherous stones), cute churches, and white buildings with colourful doors.

The hostel we stayed in, Che Lagarto, was fantastic. It was always busy and atmospheric, they put on good dinners at an equally good price, and there was a never-ending supply of caipirinhas.
As we were on the coast, we took advantage of being beach-side and mostly spent our time lying on the beach, eating, and drinking. There are lots of other beaches aound Paraty where you can go for day trips etc, but having had enough of buses for a while, we were more than happy with one of the local beaches - Jabaquara - with its idyllic view and bath-like water. There are also a number of beach bars, one of which we made the mistake of eating at the first day - but purely because of the price. The shack was run by a crazy Frenchman, who, with no menu to speak of, declared that we could have ´whatever we wanted´. We settled on spaghetti carbonara, which after a row in the kitchen with the chef over the ´proper´way to do it, came out French-style with the egg still intact. It was delicious, but what we thought was going to be cheap beach food was not, and so came our first realisation that Paraty is actually pretty expensive - at least for backpackers. Having said that, there are a few good quality, and reasonably priced, restaurants in the town, although most seemed to be out of our budget - good job the food in the hostel was so good or it would have been packet noodles all week!

Jabaquara beach

Besides an abundance of restaurants, there are some good bars in Paraty, as well as the ood club (√≥dd´ being the operative word - we went to one on the saturday night and it was like a school disco with strobe lighting, dry ice and bad music, but with the expense. And everything had to be paid for at the end of the night - a concet that took Adam at least 20 minutes to get to grips with).

On one of the days we managed to tear ourselves away from the beach and did a jeep tour, organised through the hostel. Two guys took us and a Chilean girl to all of the waterfalls around Paraty, which was fantastic. We got into the jeep (going strong since 1965), in which we were told ´not to bother´with defunct seatbelts, and headed out for the day. All the falls were great, and with not too many other tourists about, we had our pick. It was a pretty energetic day, with walking through the jungle (some difficult moments when wearing flip flops), and with the falls themselves. One was like a natural waterslide which was awesome - although I don´t think I realised how fast it was going to be, the size of the plunge at the bottom, and the impact it had on MY bottom! Other than that, we had a great day swimming about, using the rope swing, and jumping in the natural pools. The water was amazing - so clean and fresh, and full of those fish that you pay a fortune for at home to nibble at your feet.
The guides we had were fantastic and made the day - right from the beginning, to the cachaca tasting, and to the end where they stopped the jeep on the way back to ´look at the scenic view´, although it was actually so they could look for suspicious-looking mushrooms in the field.

One of the (smaller) waterfalls

The last couple of days in Paraty were as good as the rest. After a delicious Mexican meal at the hostel, we headed to a ´beach party´ (basically just a beach bar full of backpackers) and continued to ply ourselves with caipirinhas and Itaipava, causing a pretty sore head the next day. The usual conversation topics ensued - where we were travelling, where we´re from, our life situation - until we began conversing with a German guy who was only interested in whether we liked Snow Patrol. When he realised that our love for the band was not nearly as great as his, he proceeded to fall asleep - either we were too boring orhe´d had one too many. I like to think it was the latter.

Paraty has probably been our favourite place so far. The people, the scenery, and the laid-back vibe made for a fantastic week.

N.B. Adam had man flu/sore wisdom teeth, and wouldn´t let me, or anyone we met, forget it. So this is official documentation: you must feel sorry for him, he cannot cope. He is also sore, emotionally, because a few guys thought he was Scottish, and he still isn´t quite over it.