Paraty is a Greece/Italian looking, miniature Mama Mia movie colonial town that was named by the Tupi people (Amerindian/Native American), which means river of fish. It was founded in 1597 but was then taken over by Portuguese colonist in 1667. The colonist had taken over after the discovery of Gold mines in an area not far from there. Paraty was in route to this area and later they became the main port of export for gold to Rio de Janeiro. With every Gold Story what usually follows.... you guessed it Pirates RRrrrr!!!!
"waitin' out ou yur bay, hid'en en coves dey lay pirates out for ye booty!!' And just like that the gold rush, craze, and trail fell. However, de life o' de pirate is still liv in d earts of many locals as they design their boats with many Pirate themes.
Nonetheless, the death of the gold trail did not kill my dear Paraty, because after, this port became very popular in the early 19th century for coffee beans, then later the production of cachaça, which is a sugarcane-derived spirit best known today as the basis for Brazil's most popular drink, the caipirinha. Trust me, when you get to Brazil caipirinha will be your first and favorite word.... okay maybe not your first but definitely your favorite word. As the years went by Paraty transformed from a small, almost abandoned town living on minimal economic activity, mainly fishing and agriculture (bananas, manioc, sugarcane) into a tourist destination.
One of my favorite movies is Mama Mia despite the fantastic songs and actors, what I fell in love with was the architecture and feel of the island that they lived on. Coming to Paraty was my first nostalgic/ dejavu experience since then. Walking the streets of this town with broken cobblestone roads, flower plants growing out of and on the walls of beautiful old colonial houses and people riding around in boggy horse carts.... Oh MY GOOOSHH! Just like any televised island (but in this time it is real), the streets are busy and filled with laughter and music. You'd find people (including myself) singing and dancing to popular brazilian local music. This is what living in the moment looks like . BTW if you wonder who is that lively and fun woman in my video, she is Vanessa she is one of our teachers here at CIEE.... Vanessa say hi!
The way they "clean" the roads in Paraty was intriguing to me. When there is a full moon, and the tide rises the water pours into this town through special openings in the seawalls that separate the city from the harbor. The streets are flooded about 6-10 inches and remain submerged for a short time, at least until the tide recedes. But when it does, you have a freshly washed town.
At, nights however, the street life is amazing as everyone gathers at the towns center square to see live bands, dance in the street, eat at outdoor restaurants and just live in the moment. This was truly a sight to be seen as my friends and I dance our pretty hearts out in a circle that was then joined by other brazilians who shared the same enthusiasm and energy.
Nonetheless, nothing beats a boat ride in the very blue and clear river that joins Paraty to other miniature islands. Letting your skin soak in the sun, only to take a dip in cool refreshing water is indescribable. The wild dolphins and under water aquaculture will take your breath away. A snorkeling experience that my eyes could only capture (partly because I do not have an underwater camera), nevertheless the bright array of colors of the flora and fauna combined with the refraction of the sunlight, whilst you are floating/swimming is truly an out of body experience.....
Who could get enough of paraty!!! Btw the stores here sell stuff very cheap.