We were invited away for Easter weekend to Ilha-do-Araujo. It's about 30 minutes away from Paraty, one of the main historical towns (20 mins by boat + 10 mins drive). They spent the day telling us about what a fabulous weekend away it would be but to be fair, we really didn't need any convincing.... I mean, it's what we came to Brazil for.. to hang out with some real, live Brasilero/a's and drink caprihinia's on the beach!
But firstly, getting out of SP on a holiday weekend needs special planning. It's no different to trying to get out of London on a bank holiday weekend or travelling through Bangkok in rush hour... OK, I lie, it's a whole lot worse!!! The super-rico (very, very rich people) take helicopters which takes about 12 minutes to the closest beach (maybe next year...). It took us 4 hours to get out of SP (and then another 3 hours to Paraty) and this was us leaving before the rush hour! At the moment there is an incomplete ring road called the Marginal. This is where you do not want to be anytime after 4pm. Rodrigo came and picked us up before 4pm and raced through the city to get to the marginal on the opposite side of the city where we could link to Aryton Senna (most appropriate name for a motorway) which takes us up the coast. There is another highway called Dutra which can take you direct to Rio but all the big trucks take this road as well which Rodrigo wanted to avoid.
Tim taught Rodrigo the phrase 'Spend a penny' - very amusing as as he spent hundreds, thousands and millions, not just pennies... thought the rest of the weekend was spent entertaining them with our sub-standard portuguese instead!
We arrived at 10pm to a lovely little house aptly named Ilha de Mel (The Island of Honey) as it was covered in purple flowers with busy wee bees flying from one honey flower to the next. It was a small bay with 10 beautiful holiday houses scattered throughout and a small beach. The girls in the second car had left late so had been stuck on the Marginal for over 3 hours and weren't expecting to arrive until 3am so we didn't stay up for them.
Rodrigo's wife, Ines and her sister Florencia are Argentinians and they came with Luciana and Debbie. There was also Fabiola, an ex-colleague of Rodrigo's, who now lives in Rio. The weekend was lovely - we spent the whole time immersed in portuguese, learning lots of new foods and taking boat trips to other islands and beaches. We even saw a pod of dolphins on one of our boat trips but they swam away before we could jump in the water with them. Most importantly Tim also learnt to make caprioskas with lime until we ran out of limes, and with oranges until we ran out of oranges. Delicioso!
On the Saturday night we popped into Paraty after dinner. The girls wanted to have icecream (unfortunately no hokey pokey here) and the shops were open until midnight! They tried to convince me to buy Tim a new pair of very small swimmers so he could be 'a real brazilian man'. Haha, I was too disturbed and I think he might prefer to pick his own.* There were also lots of bars, restaurants and clubs and a real buzz in the streets. We'll have to go back and spend a few days exploring the town and learning more about the history of Paraty. Note to parents - not a great place for buggies as there are lots of large paralelepípedos (my new favourite word which means cobbles).
Little Sophie decided to only sleep for 2 hours on Saturday night so we were pretty exhausted but it wasn't the end of the world as all we had to do was lie by the pool and eat. Typically it started raining when we needed to leave but everyone was keen to get on the road anyhow so they could try and beat the traffic... we were stuck just leaving the beach on the roads that connect to Aryton Senna and/or Dutra for 4 hours!!! If you want to try and avoid traffic there is a live travel website for SP state - www.der.sp.gov.br - though if you're stuck it's just really depressing! We felt much better when we checked the girls' route via Caraguatatuba and saw that the traffic there was horrendous as well. Luckily once we hit Dutra the traffic was flowing; we spent a few a pennies, ate some pao de queijos, drank some guarana and whiled away the 7 hours with bossa, samba, jazz and random chat about Obama, travel in Asia and legalising drugs (all in Portuguese of course though maybe I did more listening than talking...).
(Sand and Flowers for lunch - Yummy!)