By Alexandra Alden, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Paraty and the Costa Verde’s sandy beaches and hot, tropical climate are two of the region’s main draws but this also makes the area synonymous with rain and for many that can cause a panicked sense of ‘My vacation is ruined!’ Far from spelling out holiday disaster, though, there are many activities to do when the heavens open that can save the trip.
Go to a little visited museum: Most beach destinations are known for being just that and not much more, but a cloudy day in Paraty gives the opportunity to explore another side of the city. Museums which are usually ignored when the sun is shining can tell a story that often goes undiscovered.
The Casa da Cultura located in the historic center (Rua Dona Geralda 177) celebrates Paraty’s history as well as its future. It has permanent exhibitions of indigenous artifacts, paintings by locals as well as more famous artists, costumes and information about local festivals. There are also temporary exhibitions ranging from traditional to modern art. The usual entrance fee is R$8, but students and teachers can get in half price.
Taste the local cuisine: When on the beach, food can become a sidebar to frolicking in the waves and soaking up the sun. In bad weather the focus turns to finding a nice restaurant and enjoying a leisurely meal, so seek out something local and unusual, and linger. The restaurant Sabor Da Terra located on the high street (Avenida Roberto Silveira 180) offers a variety of regional flavors. and is ‘pay by the kilo’-style so a decent sized plate can cost as little as R$15. They work with local fisherman to get the freshest seafood and grill up the traditional churrasco (Brazilian barbecue), using local produce where possible.
After lunch you can head to Cana da Praça, a cachaçaria located in the main square where they serve amazing caipirinhas for only R$5, or try a shot of Gabriela, a cinnamon flavored cachaça. The bar takes on a party atmosphere when it’s raining and everyone packs inside the tiny space to sample the famous local spirit, making it an ideal opportunity to chat with locals.
Take to the jungle: Brazil is home to many cachoeiras (waterfalls) and when the clouds makes the beach less appealing, the waterfalls (which are usually under the cover of jungle) become a tantalizing option. The leaves from the trees create a natural umbrella, so hiking there and back isn’t unbearable even in the rain.
The waterfalls can become very strong if there is a lot of rain so be prudent about choosing when to go and bring bug spray as mosquitoes can become prolific after rain. To get to the waterfalls from Paraty take a bus towards Penha (R$3, about 20 minutes) and ask the driver to indicate where the cachoeiras are.
Get all the little errands out of the way: Now is the time to pick up that T-shirt for a nephew or the new bikini in the window. The Centro Historico has upmarket shopping while Avenida Roberto Silveira has slightly less pricey stores. If you don’t want to spend the money in your wallet just yet, you could send that e-mail to work, upload your holiday photos, call home, or write a postcard. Doing this while it’s overcast ensures that when the sun does come out all there is left to do is lie on the beach.