We reached Paraty via Pablo our transfer driver who could easily be a contender for the land speed record. I’m pretty sure we were on 2 wheels a couple of times. But the drive south also includes 4 hours of coast roads and some of the loveliest tropical scenery, little hamlets in coastal valleys and white empty beaches! Travelling off-peak definitely has its perks.
Paraty is a pretty colonial town of brightly coloured doorways and cobbled streets. It is obviously a popular tourist destination for Brazilians from Sao Paolo and Rio as the shops are boutique and well stocked with souvenirs, and many restaurants have menus in English, which is a little less fun than ordering ‘carne’ and wondering what kind of meat will arrive! The boys both had a cartoon drawn of themselves by a local street artist and we’ve bought some Brazilian flag sarongs to use on the beach as they dry so quick (as no one seems to use beach towels.). Street vendors also sell churro’s here, thank goodness, but they also make fresh cocktails to go, so Ben & I are sorted too!
We lucked out with accommodation here as we are staying at a small hotel (or pousada) owed by two Dutch brothers (Gerben & Joan) who came here 7 years ago and started with a patch of mangrove swamp to create Jabaquara Beach Resort. We are renting a small bungalow and they have lovely pool, which can usually be found with two small English boys floating in it, and the occasional local boy called Arthur.
Jabaquara has a lovely beach with bath-warm water and no surf, so perfect for swimming and paddle boarding which all 3 boys loved once they got their balance. The ‘shacks’ on the beach sell lovely food and caipirinha’s the local cocktail, so it’s the perfect place to spend an afternoon in the sun.
We are very fortunate to have a former Maths teacher in Joan, so he is giving the boys lessons which are definitely better than mine as he keeps them going with magic tricks when they do well. Schooling also includes biology as Joan has borrowed a microscope and bug collection from Arthur’s dad Simon, enthusing the boys in a new way. I am really starting to appreciate the benefits of home-schooling.
The animals here are fascinating; we have seen hummingbirds collecting nectar fromflowers, small monkeys, fireflies that flash bright white whilst dancing over the grass near the mangrove swamps and a multitude of common and exotic birds and even a tree frog that attached itself to the window last night giving us the perfect view of its orange bulb-like toes.
Interestingly schooling here does not seem to be very well regarded and in this part of Brazil the school day is only about 4 hours long. The children attend one session per day, either 8am-12, 12-4pm or sometimes even 6-10pm, and teachers get paid depending on how many sessions they teach. Everyone hopes this will increase in the future.