Thursday, June 24, 2010

Trinidade, Angra dos Reis, Brazil

The coast of Trinidade (photo by Luis Bastardo)

As much as we loved visiting Ilha Grande, we again reluctantly decided that it was time to move on; there was a lot of ground to cover in Brazil. Our next stop was a tiny beach town called Trinidade (pronounced Trini-DA-jee), about a 40 minute bus ride from the colonial town of Paraty. Neither of us had ever heard of it or could find any reference to it in our guidebooks, but many travelers recommended it, so we thought we'd give it a try. We caught the early ferry back to the mainland, then took a two-hour bus ride to Paraty, followed by a 40 minute hair-raising local bus ride to Trinidade. The bus driver sped around the hairpin curves on two wheels with one hand (or more specifically, with two fingers), while simultaneously smoking a cigarette, taking swigs from his beer and talking on his cell phone.

A beach side restaurant in Trinidade (photo by Luis Bastardo)

When, by miracle, we arrived more or less in one piece in Trindade, the bus dropped us off on our shaky legs on main street next to a country store and we wandered up the dusty roads looking for somewhere to stay. We found a place that looked nice, with individual cabins situated in a tropical forest setting and a sign in the front stating "Delicious Homemade Breakfast Included!!" That sounded promising, so we booked a cabin. The breakfast turned out to be Wonderbread, generic margarine, some sticky jars of jam and a coffee cake (presumably the "homemade" part). Luis and I passed on breakfast, dropped our bags in our cabin and set out to explore the area. We hiked into the Parque Nacional da Serra da Bocaina to see the waterfalls, then down to the beaches to have a well-deserved cold beer and something to eat at one of the many beach side restaurants.

A water taxi waiting for passengers in the Piscina do Caixadaço (photo by Luis Bastardo) 

 The next day, we asked the friendly hotel owners what we should see in Trinidade and they suggested that we hike to Piscina do Caixadaço, a natural tranquil pool created by a barrier of large rocks on the beach when the tide was in. It sounded like the perfect thing to do on such a hot day and after we hiked up trails through the steamy forest and scrambled over large boulders down to the beach for about an hour, we were relieved to see the natural pool come into sight. It was still morning, but many people and their dogs had already arrived, snorkeling or floating in the calm, warm water. Swimming all around them and "kissing" the skin on their arms and legs, were schools of colorful striped tropical fish. It was like sitting in an open, shallow aquarium.

Early morning bathers at Piscina do Caixadaço (photo by Luis Bastardo)

We spent the morning and part of the afternoon in the pool floating and relaxing, while the striped fish provided us with a free skin-exfoliating spa treatment. Every thirty minutes or so, a vendor would float by with a Styrofoam cooler containing cold drinks, beer or snacks, so we had everything we needed until we got really hungry. There are several fishermen who make extra cash by running a water taxi service for those who are too relaxed after their soak to trek back along the trail. They wait by the rocks or on the beach with their small motor boats until they have a boatful of people to shuttle back to shore. For a small fee, they will drop you back directly at any beach cafe. Our taxi boat driver included a stop at a group of fishing boats, so we could watch a local family of fishermen hauling in a catch, part of which we later ate filleted and fried for our lunch at a table on the sand at a beachside doesn't get much fresher than that!  

Fishermen bringing in the catch of the day (photo by Simone Cannon)

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