Friday, January 28, 2022

[PARATY] Rio's Colonial Town

Like Ilha Grande, Paraty was not on the itinerary either. But since the flight became a bus ride, I just wasn’t hopping on an overnight bus from Rio de Janeiro to São Paulo. I’m too old for that kind of shit. And so, I had to divide the bus ride into manageable segments. After Ilha Grande, Paraty was the next logical destination heading to the neighboring state given its proximity to the border. As a bonus, I found out that Paraty is actually one of Brazil’s more popular colonial towns. Ooh, history. I like.

Don’t get me wrong. Rio is nice, but all that I’ve ever seen since I arrived here were hills and beaches. The prospect of visiting a city with colonial history felt like a good break from all the nature tripping. To get from Angra dos Reis to Paraty, you can shell out around BRL165 (~PHP1,650) on Uber to get you from point A to point B door to door. This is competitive with the rates most transfer vans will quote you. The question is whether an Uber driver in Angra dos Reis would agree, given s/he won’t have any passenger for the return trip. The travel time is around an hour and 40 minutes by car.

When all else fails, head to Angra dos Reis’ bus station and wait for the Colitur bus there. Unlike the other buses using it as their hub, Colitur is a local inter-town bus. This means it will most likely be full and there is no air-conditioning. Most of the time, it also arrives late. Regardless, there is a Colitur booth at the bus terminal, but it is often unmanned. At least they have the decency to post the arrival and departure schedule there. The 12:45 bus we were waiting for arrived at 13:00. And then off we went.

The travel time took two hours because this is not a luxury point-to-point bus. It stops everywhere to pick up and drop off passengers along the way. The advantage is it’s really cheap at just BRL17 (~PHP170), which is a mere 10% of what I would have paid had I succumbed to my Uber addiction. If there are around four of you in your party, an Uber ride wouldn’t be that bad when the cost is split among you. But then again, good luck in convincing an Angra dos Reis based driver about that trip.

Paraty’s historic center is small and compact with several cobblestoned alleys and colonial houses for your viewing pleasure occupying a part of the bay. It’s not a secret that I’ve already had enough of Hispanic colonial towns because they all start to appear similar once you’ve seen many. Cartagena. Viejo San Juan. San Miguel de Allende. Rivals León and Granada. Havana. The list goes on, but keep in mind that Paraty is a PORTUGUESE colonial town. You are in for a refreshing surprise here.

Despite being the largest country in Latin America, Brazil was the only one the Portuguese managed to colonize. Blame the Treaty of Tordesillas, I guess. Most of its neighbors were ex colonies of Spain, France, and the Netherlands. Given this situation, we can say that Paraty, as a Portuguese colonial town, has the advantage of uniqueness when thrown into that fray. As opposed to the bright pastel colors of its Hispanic counterparts, the prevalent colonial style of old houses here is white paint for the building, accentuated with splashes of color via the windowpanes, the door frames, or the doors themselves.

You can say that I was amused. The prevalent white facades feigned uniformity, but the choice of colored accents was left to the individual property owner, lending some semblance of individuality despite being similar. In the end, same same but different. Being a coastal town, residents of Paraty also enjoy life by the sea. Boats painted in vivid colors are ubiquitous, and there are several canals that make your stroll feel more leisurely. There are also some islands to visit, but I’ve already been to Ilha Grande. For this particular leg of the itinerary, I just enjoyed the trip down colonial memory lane.

From Paraty, you can take a Reunidas Paulista bus straight to São Paulo, but that trip will take you around 6 hours. What I’m going to do is make a stopover in Ubatuba along São Paulo’s Atlantic coastline. From there, the trip to the city will be reduced to around 5 hours, depending on traffic conditions. Overall, I’ve been enjoying this Brazil excursion despite it being rainy season and me ending up wet most of the time.

[PARATY] Rio's Colonial Town

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