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Brazil

Day 59: Parati

 
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Good Friday morning. The stone-flagged streets of Parati have been washed by a high tide.
Michael Palin - BrazilIt's Good Friday, or Seixta-Feira Santa as they call it here. We're out early, to pick up some shots of this colourful little town before the streets fill up. A few horse-drawn carts are already out and about, their thick rubber tyres bouncing their occupants over the uncompromising cobblestones. And there are additional obstacles to negotiate this morning. After a high tide, the sea water has flooded a number of streets (as it was designed to do) leaving large puddles and a rather unpleasant smell of drains. But this is a small price to pay for walking largely unchanged eighteenth-century streets full of boldly painted houses. Deep grey next to bright yellow and pink next to purple. Bougainvillea spills over the walls and dogs scratch themselves on doorsteps. One door is ajar and I bend backwards as I pass and catch a tantalizing glimpse of lush gardens, and courtyards framed by tiled and trailer-clad verandas. As it's peak holiday weekend the town is busiest at the long jetty by the harbour, where a prodigious assortment of multi-coloured craft are drawn up offering trips around the bay, fishing expeditions or picnics on surrounding beaches.

Dom João, man of a thousand contacts, has asked me to join him aboard a fast white sport-fishing boat which takes us at sea-gouging speed to a small beach. There we transfer to a beautiful three-masted sailing boat where we have lunch, swim to a another beach and scramble up amongst the trees to where our host, a big wheel in Brazil's television industry, plans to convert a small fisherman's house. The rule is that you can only build to the dimensions of property that already exists. It is very quiet here. No roads anywhere near. Butterflies rule. Walking trails wend through the forest and for the truly adventurous there's a tough four-day trek which follows the zigzag coastline back to Parati. Sadly, the bright and promising sunshine of the morning disappears and by late afternoon Parati is as grey and wet as England on a Bank Holiday.
 
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The sea water almost reaches the shop fronts.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Brazil
  • Chapter: Day 59: Parati
  • Country/sea: Brazil
  • Place: Parati
  • Book page no: 252

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