Tag Archives: Trindade

Back in the land of the living

14 Mar

Who would have thought 12 days could pass by so quickly. My final flurry of activity in Sao Paulo to complete my last interviews and write up a few articles, as well as make sure I’d actually been to enough concerts to be able to write about some of them, and then eight days in Trindade has meant the pace had to slow on the blog here.

I am now officially back in the real world though, one where it takes a damn sight less than 10 minutes to read an email, and where I suddenly feel so much dirtier with my murky clothes looking so much more distasteful in the sharp, well-dressed environs of Sao Paulo. If you had ever tried to dry clothes in Trindade, i.e. in the rainforest, you would probably understand just why my clothes are currently in such a shabby state!

Over the next few days I will be doing my best to update the blog with a few bits and bobs about Paraty and Trindade carnival, as well as a few extra things about Sao Paulo that have yet to make it from notepad to notebook.

Hostels and recommendations in Sao Paulo

24 Feb

My opinion of Sao Paulo has changed dramatically. The first time I came here I stayed for two days, felt my lungs, head and life clog up and quickly got the hell out. I wasn’t ready for the city. When my passion for Brazilian music started to take full hold I knew this was the place to come and buy cheap vinyl and discover music. Now that I’ve been here for a few weeks I can honestly say that I quite like the place (which is a lot easier to write after three days of sunshine (with 5 minutes of rain each day) than a full three hour rain storm where you have to hide under a 10-foot concrete awning which doesn’t even really help as the rain is hitting at you from everyone one of the 360 possible degrees).

A small village like Trindade is easier to fit into straight away. The people you meet on your first night are there on the second. The bars that you go to soon become favourite spots, partly due to the fact that they are only two bars ever open and so one simply has to become a favourite. It’s taken a couple of weeks of being in Sao Paulo but I’ve now got to the point where I can go to shows and know two or three people there, and on the occasional fortuitous amble to the shops meet someone familiar.

Yet for most tourists, myself included on my first visit, Sao Paulo is just here to be explored for a day or two before heading somewhere with a generally more appealing demeanour. The only guest who has stayed here at Oca Hostel for more than three nights was a Dutch guy who had already met a lovely Paulista girl, and was dead set on partying, which is pretty much what this place is all about anyway. This did leave the guy with a final weekly hostel bill of R$800 (£300) on top of whatever crazy prices he paid for drinks, club entrance fees, meals, and all the other high-priced fare he got upto.

Which always leaves me puzzled when new guests arrive and ask me what I would recommend. Get down the fruit market, go to a few museums, have a walk in the park – these are the main suggestions. Yet none of them will really endear Sao Paulo to someone anymore than any other city which has parks, museums and markets (which is in fact all other cities). Maybe the Paulistanos who say that “Sao Paulo works so that the rest of the country can play” has some logic, as even if you want to come here and party you need a pretty flexible bank balance and this rules it out for many travellers as well as people from Rio and other states, as well as many of the people from Sao Paulo itself.

Time and all that nonsense

22 Mar

Well I’m certainly not gonna make it sound like I’ve done much over the past week, seeing as I can’t even get my act together to write an entry on this blog. There’s just something about Trindade that makes the idea of sitting down at a computer for any length of time the worst idea in the world. The social cost is too great, not to mention the fact that I could be better spending time surfing, sitting on the beach, finding trails, following the river, listening to music, watching football, drinking beer, etc., etc. The distractions are too great!

That’s not to say there have been some glimpses of productivity though. I have cooked a number of meals, the last of which in exchange for a massage from two lovely swedish girls (an exchange which I believe will be fulfilled very soon) and discovered that we’re allowed to use the table football, pool table and table tennis in the guesthouse over the road (a realisation that has pretty much ruined any chance of me ever doing anything else).

The lesson here really is that Trindade is no place to come to stimulate the brain or achieve anything of note. It is the gateway onto a slippery slope of sweet bliss, which I have absolutely no qualms to be swinging my way down. Until I finally leave Trindade, which is a time getting closer and closer, this may well be my last update for a while!

Trindade – how on earth do I get out of here?

13 Mar

It’s closing in on three weeks since I arrived back in Trindade. I still can’t see myself leaving anytime soon. Especially now that the sun has come. It may not last for too much longer but we have had a whole week of sun which for a couple of weeks seemed like an alien prospect.

The hardest part of any day is to decide what to do. There are six beaches to choose from with seemingly one for every occasion. Cachadaco is my favourite of the beaches nearby, a long beach with a few stray currents which sometimes produce perfect waves for surfing. As you have to trek over a hill for 10 minutes it also seems to be one of the most deserted beaches around here.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/slaterino/4011893799/
Eli, surfboard and Bruce on Cachadaco

Praia do Meio is the beach where all the Brazilians come and hang out. It is always packed with bronzing tourists, generally stuffing their faces at all the restaurants on the beach. Praia dos Ranchos is definitely the spot in the nighttime, the perfect place to pick up a Gabriela at Rogerio’s, something which I’m sure I’ve already mentioned a few times. Following on from that beach is Praia da Fora (kind of a chilled-out family beach) and then Praia Cepilho at the end. This is the number one spot for surfing. It’s only a small beach but it has a real nice point break which brings huge waves up to the coast, making it a great place both to surf and to watch. No surprise then that the next World Cup of surfing will be held right there.

My favourite beach of them all though has to be Praia Brava. It’s not a beach to go to every day seeing as it takes an hour and a half of walking but it is definitely worth trying to go as often as possible. At the moment the sun is too hot for me to even contemplate 3 hours of walking under it so I am waiting for a few clouds before I next go.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/slaterino/4012573540/

It’s the most deserted of all the beaches here in Trindade, and the only one that is closed. It also happens to be a nudist beach but so far I’ve only ever seen one naked man on there. A very disappointing innings really. It is quite common to see many different birds on the trail to the beach, as well as a few giant lizards if you’re lucky. Instead of taking the trail back now I walk up the river starting at the beach. This route will eventually take you to my favourite waterfall. A beautiful set of four falls which you can climb up, before taking the route back to the bottom again before doing it all again.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/slaterino/4011889065/

As well as all this, there is the waterfall and swallowing rock just near the hostel, the trail to the Indian’s head and the fact that there are always plenty of people to meet and of course my mistress, Gabriela, always waiting down at the beach. Leaving just doesn’t seem like a possibility!

Cachaça, more than just Brazilian rum

8 Mar

There are two main reasons that I’ve been writing less since I arrived in Trindade (on the green coast of Rio state). First is the fact that being in a small fishing village with rainforests on all sides and a plethora of beaches doesn’t make sitting down and spending a good portion of the day on the internet a tempting option. The second is cachaça. This is the national drink of Brazil, and is used to make caipirinhas, a cocktail made from mixing cachaça, lime, sugar and ice, and which is increasingly becoming popular in other countries. This is reflected in the price, with caipirinhas sold in the bars of Rio, Sao Paulo and any-other tourist-leaning city for upto 15 or 20 Reais, which is about 5 pounds, and ridiculously over-priced. Until 1990 cachaça and caipirinhas were both drinks primarily of the working class. The word caipirinha is derived from the word caipira, which means something along the lines of country bumpkin in portuguese. After that point brewers started making artesanal cachaças by aging the drink (made by distilling sugarcane, in a similar process to most brandies) in wooden casks, giving the alcohol a deeper flavour as well as colouring it a golden brown. In addition, the rising popularity of caipirinhas in the United States meant that exports became a lot more common and that visitors were more aware of this drink, which was now available in pretty much every bar you can find in Brazil.

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To buy a bottle of unaged cachaça will set you back around 5 Reais. Considering you can then get around 20 or more caipirinhas from that bottle it’s no surprise that bars are more than willing to bask in its popularity and sell it for 15 Reais a glass. Drinking cachaça in this way is only the tip of the iceberg though. Since arriving in Trindade I’ve discovered far more ways in which people enjoy it. It’s not too surprising that this village would be so steeped in the drink, it’s an hour’s bus journey from Paraty, a place generally seen as some kind of cachaça capital. The drink was in fact actually known as paraty before its other titles of cachaça and pinga (which is more common here) were introduced. In addition, they hold the Pinga Festival every August where a mountain of artesanal cachaças and cachaças flavoured with all kinds of fruits and spices are available as shots from hundreds of vendors on the street.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonnycocker/2852010952/

My current poison and reason for spending many daylight hours flat out when I really should be doing something more productive is Gabriela. This is cachaça infused with honey, cloves and cinnamon. Thanks to these spices it does have something of the mulled wine about it and it most certainly warms up the stomach. I’ve also been told that in the south of Brazil they drink a very similar thing which they serve hot (I’m guessing on those days when the temperature is only 15 degrees or someting). There’s a bar on Praia dos Ranchos here in Trindade, called Rogerio’s, who only plays vinyl records, all of which are from the 70s and 80s. Nights spent drinking Gabriela and listening to scratchy Led Zeppelin and Supertramp records have becoming something quite legendary, at least in my eyes anyway!

Another great tipple is Pinga com Mel, which is quite simply cachaça with honey. Even stronger than gabriela but half the price at just 2 Reais a glass (that’s less than one pound) it’s too strong for me to drink solidly. I prefer a beer by the side just to take the edge off every now and again.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/lperdigao/172905311/

There is something that will always appeal to me about these drinks over the over-priced caipirinhas. It seems simple to me. If you want a caipirinha then you buy a bottle of cachaça and a few limes and make your own, and if you want to drink what the people drink, then you look for the shoddy-looking old water machine in the corner, or the jerry can with a price on the side, to get a taste of what the people actually drink, and also get a little bit fuzzy in the mouth at the same time.

Ponta Negra, Rio de Janeiro

4 Mar

It almost seems ridiculous that people end up travelling all over Brazil in search of great beaches when there are so many around Rio and Sao Paulo. Trindade, where I’m currently sat, is one of them, on what is known as the Green Coast, mainly due to the fact that it’s flanked by Mata Atlantic Rainforest which pushes right up to the coastline. The main tourist destinations in this area are Buzios and Ilha Grande in Rio state and also Ilha Bela in Sao Paulo. Personally, I think Trindade is far nicer than any of these. As it doesn’t have too many tourists it means that the main industry here is still fishing and that as you go around town, both day and night, you are more than likely to bump into the locals quite a number of times, and considering how friendly they are here you will certainly make friends with them. Going even more extreme than this is Ponta Negra.

Ponta Negra is at the end of a 3 hour trail from Laranjeiras, which is a condominium full of rich tycoons (where apparently the head of Brahma brewery lives.) Laranjeiras can be reached by buses coming from either Paraty or Trindade. From there it’s a good walk to the next beach, Praia do Sono.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/slaterino/3997166988

This is a popular place to camp in the summer time, especially by Brazilians from Sao Paulo and Rio. It’s a really calm beach, perfect for swimming. After this, there is Antigos and Antiguinhos beaches.

Praia dos Antigos

These are more beautiful beaches, lacking the restaurants and campsites of Sono so feel a little more natural and away from the world.

It takes a final hill climb to reach Ponta Negra.

This trip can also be done by boat, but then you miss the other beaches and the satisfaction of three hours hike to get the perfect view of this tiny fishing village from the top of the hill.

View of Ponta Negra

There is something really special about Ponta Negra. The slow erection of telegraph poles along the route indicates that they will soon have electricity, but at the moment this isn’t the case. There are two restaurants in the village, one of which is actually more like someone’s home, but she does have a couple of tables she can put out front and is also a pretty great chef, so deserves her status.

Punta Negra's Beach

In the day the kids of the village simply play out on the beach, jumping off rocks and throwing things around. It’s so nice to join them for a few hours!

Ponta Negra Beach

The chooses for getting back are the same as for getting there, with a boat journey back quite tempting, especially as it will give you great views of all these beaches.

If the rain comes they run and hide their heads

2 Mar

Not everything has gone to plan since arriving in Trindade. Two days of intense heat have been followed by five days of rain, power cuts and periods without water. This place really doesn’t have the infrastructure to deal with any kind of storm. As soon as one comes it’s lights out for the rest of the day. One of the reasons I have been very quiet on this blog since I arrived. Sun has been forecast for Sunday. It really needs to show its face because at the moment people are getting to the hostel, staying for a day, getting really depressed by the incessant rain and then getting the hell out of here. Despite this though I can’t see myself leaving for a while. There’s something about this place, I can never get bored. I don’t think people realise that even when it’s raining you can still go for a swim in the sea or maraud up the river to the waterfall. They seem to prefer to head off to Rio or Sao Paulo, thinking that maybe that will bring better weather, not realising that the weather’s going to be the same but they are instead going to be stuck in a hostel for the duration of their stay.

A brolly for all seasons

26 Feb

Where did the brolly come from? Who invented it? I can’t see one without thinking about making the walk from Sneinton to Nottingham city centre; the sheer upward struggle of St. Stephen’s Road, the river gushing past Emmanuel House and arriving in cold offices wearing ridiculously wet trousers. Which makes it all the more stranger when I’m sitting on the beach, sweating so much I have to jump in the water every 5 minutes so that I can feel human again, and see people walking past with brolly in hand. There really is something not right about it. Despite the fact that the use of parasols seems so logical to actually be strolling about with an umbrella seems like it should be the pinnacle of inept decision-making. What’s wrong with a hat or some sun screen, at least feel like you’re on holiday. Get into the spirit of things!

Although maybe it’s me that’s missing the point! The tropical climate of much of Brazil means that an umbrella is perhaps the greatest of all accessory, able to keep dry or keep the sun off in equal measures. I am having none of it though, instead quite happy to mock the stupid Brazilians with their ridiculous ‘bring the rain’ bad omen brollies.

Rio Post-Carnival

23 Feb

Unless you’re so wasted from carnival that everything now appears as lights and shapes and there’s no longer any point differentiating between what is good and bad then Rio post-carnival really is not the place to be. On my final day I saw two naked men on the street, one with his pants round his ankles taking a piss in the middle of the road, and another having a shit before cleaning his arse with a broken water pipe. I also saw a man hobbling along with a huge hole in his stomach, from which was seeping some kind of translucent liquid. It’s an image I can’t seem to get out of my head and so probably shouldn’t be writing (damn! which has just made me think of ‘the game.’)

Which all meant that it was actually kind of a relief to leave Rio, which is the first time that’s ever been the case. Oh, and the temperature was 38 degrees the final day, which with no wind and ridiculous humidity is a little bit warm.

Now I’m back in my old hunting ground of Trindade, home of rainforest, many beaches and gabriela (the sweetest drink ever to be supped on these shores!) George, the owner of Kaissara Hostel where I previously worked has said there’s a free bed for as long as I want it. Looks like I’ll be here for a while!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/slaterino/4011875207/

Ponta Negra

25 Sep

First time of asking, they had told us there was no way out of here by boat, so we were packing our bags, fitting everything into a collection of tightly-wound plastic bags. We would have to go back the way we came, by foot, through the hills, a three hour trek to Laranjeiras. Only trouble, this time the rain was coming down by the sackful and had been doing so for the past two days. What had previously been a difficult trail to follow in the sun would now more closely resemble a water slide. So when one of the locals came up from the beach to say that actually we would be able to get a boat, this felt something of a relief. The boat came in from one of the other beaches, it caught a big wave on the way into the shore and ploughed headfirst into the rock at the end of the beach. The driver thought this was hilarious.

We all hopped into the boat and waited for a break in the waves. Earlier that day, I thought we had lost one of the Swiss girls, Andrea. She had swum out during one of the calm spells only to suddenly be hit by three of the biggest waves I had ever seen. Each time one was about to hit her she had jumped through the wave, and each time I was almost surprised to see her head pop up again at the other side. Once she got close to the beach, I had to run over and pull her out, so tired were her arms after getting out of the waves.

We had to wait for about 15 big waves to pass before we got a quite spell. During that time the young London girl, Lucy, next to me was crying. Supposedly, she thought she was going to die. I was trying to be comforting but getting it all slightly wrong (“Hardly ever do fishermen ever die out there in the ocean. We would have to be really unlucky for it to happen to us.”) We eventually got our chance, and pushed the boat out into the ocean, the driver wasting no time in getting the motor going and moving us out of the danger zone before the next group of swells. By this time the rain had picked up and the sea seemed to be getting choppier by the minute, all of which was not helped by the fact our driver thought he was in a race (I presume his dinner was on the table). All we could see on the whole journey were outlines of the forested mountains in the distance, bloated grey skies and the sea shifting from side to side, up and down, with us placed in the middle.

The crying had stopped by the time we reached the other side, docking in the Laranjeiras condiminium, home to some of the wealthiest people in Brazil. We were ushered into a minibus and driven to the nearest bus stop, whizzing past an assortment of golf courses, health spas and general expensive decadence on the way. While we waited for ths bus, me and Betty, the other Swiss girl, played frisbee on a football field behind the stop. By the time it arrived we were both completely soaked and covered in mud. Next time I go to Punta Negra, I will be hoping for rain, but I feel somewhere inside I will be praying for rain. Who knew it could be so much fun?
ponta negra from up top

View of Ponta Negra