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What to See in Salvador’s Barra Neighborhood

Balcony view down to a narrow beach butting up against a long coastal road.
Praia do Farol da Barra. Photo © Roberto Sabino, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

At the end of Corredor de Vitória—bracketed by a McDonald’s on one side and the gleaming white Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Vitória—the descent from Avenida Sete de Setembro begins a steep plunge toward the lively middle-class neighborhood and beach of Barra. This road, known as Ladeira da Barra, offers spectacular sea views that will surely whet your appetite for the beaches waiting at the foot of the hill. On your way down, you’ll pass Bahia’s yacht club, with its swan-like array of sailboats, the Cimetério dos Ingleses, where Bahia’s Brit expat community encountered a terribly scenic resting place, and, perched on a verdant hill, the 16th-century Igreja de Santo Antônio da Barra.

Porto da Barra

At the bottom of Ladeira da Barra, you’ll find yourself in front of Salvador’s most famous beach, Porto da Barra, dramatically framed by two 17th-century Portuguese fortresses: Forte São Diogo and Forte Santa Maria. More than just a small crescent-shaped golden sand beach, “Porto” is an entire microcosm uniting families, gays, tourists, locals, vendors, hustlers, lovers, celebrities, sun worshippers, and volleyball and frescoball aficionados on one vibrant and colorful strip of sand bathed by the calm and surprisingly clear sea. Barring the rainy season, no matter how overpopulated it gets, Porto’s waters are always miraculously crystalline.

[pullquote align=”right”]In the summer, Porto gets so packed it’s hard to see the sand, but as a social scene, it’s fascinating.[/pullquote]In the summer, Porto gets so packed it’s hard to see the sand, but as a social scene, it’s fascinating. In the “winter,” locals tend to shy away, citing the cold as an excuse (as if anyone could get hypothermia when the thermometer falls to 24°C/75°F), leaving the beach deliciously empty. Although Porto has a small-town feel to it—aided by the fact that the only vessels bobbing on its waters are brightly painted wooden fishing boats—it packs a surprisingly urban wallop. While you’re hanging out, you’ll be bombarded by the songs and chants of passing vendors hawking everything from handmade jewelry (some of it quite inspired) and portable radios to skewered shrimp, grilled cheese (queijo coalho) with oregano, and fresh fruit popsicles called picolés (the best ones are made by a company called Capelinha). You’ll also be spoiled: After renting a beach chair and giant parasol, you’ll have your feet regularly refreshed with a watering can and all your drink requests attended to.

Porto da Barra is the classic place to watch the sunset—in fact, applause rings out the moment the glowing orange-red disk descends below the Ilha da Itaparica, bathing both sky and sea in a painterly blaze of colors. (On Friday nights in summer, sunset is accompanied by free outdoor concerts). Since the beach is lit at night, it is possible to take a moonlight dip. However, be very careful with your valuables (even more so than during the day) since tourists are often targeted by thieves.

Farol da Barra

Walking along the breezy seaside promenade—past small coves and the increasing number of hotels, gyms, cybercafés, and bars that are turning Barra into a small-scale Copacabana—you’ll soon reach the iconic black-and-white striped Barra lighthouse. Jutting out into the sea at the point where the Bay of All Saints meets the Atlantic, the Farol da Barra is lodged within the 17th-century Forte de Santo Antônio. Although the current lighthouse, constructed of iron, was built in 1836, the original wooden one—dating from 1696—operated using whale oil and was the first lighthouse in all of the Americas. Inside the fort is the mildly interesting Museu Naútico da Bahia (tel. 71/3264-3296, 9 a.m.–7 p.m. Tues.–Sun., R$6), with a collection of maps, navigation instruments, model ships, and other seafaring paraphernalia. Just as interesting, if not more, is the secluded bar situated within the lighthouse’s sun-bleached walls. During the year, the Farol and surrounding area are the setting for various shows and concerts, the biggest of which occur on New Year’s Eve and Day.

Beaches

Barra is where what Soteropolitanos refer to as the orla, or coastline, begins: a long string—roughly 20 kilometers (12.5 miles)—of beaches that stretch north to Itapuã and the city limits. Aside from Rio Vermelho, the adjoining neighborhoods themselves are of little interest, and if you’re looking for good beaches, the ones farther away, beginning at Boca do Rio, are the only worthy candidates for bathing. Lots of buses—both municipal and more expensive and air-conditioned executivos—leave from the center (Campo Grande and Lapa) or from Barra and speed up and down the coast all the way to Itapuã. On the weekends, particularly in the summer, all of these beaches get really packed. It’s best if you can go early and come back at around 3 p.m. to beat the rush and crush.


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Living Abroad in Brazil.

The Lineup: Edge of Dark Water Edition

Contrasted ConfinementHoping to discover more about EDGE OF DARK WATER and Joe’s signature style, or find fresh ways to talk up the novel with friends and fellow readers? We’ve got you covered!

You could try the recent reviews–in last Sunday’s New York Times Book Review, Marilyn Stasio offered high praise for Joe R. Lansdale’s newest, proclaiming EDGE OF DARK WATER: “A charming Gothic tale….as funny and frightening as anything that could have been dreamed up by the Brothers Grimm–or Mark Twain.” At New York Journal of Books, Sam Millar raves that EDGE OF DARK WATER “has all the potential of becoming a classic, read by generations to come.”

Prefer your Youtube account? With Joe’s help and including on-location footage of the setting of his novel and the East Texas region that gives his work such vibrancy, we’ve put together two video clips about Joe’s newest and his inspirations:

More audio-inclined? Don’t miss these killer podcasts that feature some of Joe’s contributions to the storytelling tradition:

The Bomb:

Write Something:

East Texas Christmas:

And if you’re new to the site this week, don’t miss Dan Simmons’ essay that compares and contrasts EDGE OF DARK WATER to the classic that’s come up so often in reviews of the novel, Joe Lansdale and Andrews Vachss’ epic conversation on EDGE OF DARK WATER and Vachss’ THAT’S HOW I ROLL (Part I and Part II), and our own conversation with Lansdale (Part I and Part II).

Share away!

Living Abroad in London with Karen White

1. What draws people to move to London?

Generally, people move to London from the U.S. for professional or academic reasons—to advance their career, or to pursue their studies at one of London’s prestigious universities. Most of the Americans that I know ended up in London because they were transferred there by their employer, although I also know a few people with dual British/American nationality that decided to move to London just to see what life is like on the other side of the Atlantic and to get closer to their British roots.

2. What do you recommend packing before moving? Are there any items that just aren’t available in the U.K.?

To some extent, what you choose to bring with you to London depends on how long you are going to be here (and who is paying for your move). Certainly you should pack important personal possessions so that your flat or house here feels like a home. If your employer is willing to pay the shipping for all of your possessions and you are going to be here for a couple of years, you may want to take advantage of that. Just don’t bring electrical items: they run on a different voltage. It is also pretty easy to get a furnished flat in London, in which case you will just need linen, bedding, and cooking/eating equipment, as those are the things usually not included.

3. What’s the best way to get to know Londoners?

The notorious British reserve can make it hard to get to know Londoners, especially for Americans who have a more gregarious nature. For students, I’d recommend that they try to live in a “hall” (like a dorm) so that they can mix with their fellow students. Establishing a new social life can be a bit more difficult for professionals and their partners; a good way to get to know like-minded Londoners would be to join a group, organization, or club, whether it be through your children’s school, church, a volunteer organization, or a gym. Otherwise, you could try enrolling in a course for adults (see City Lit). Don’t forget that the office can also be a good place to get to know Londoners; quite often, people will head to the pub on a Friday after work.

4. Name a few of your favorite historical sites.

My favorite historical site in London has to be the Tower of London. Not only is some of it nearly 1,000 years old, but the items on display in the various buildings are fascinating, and include the Crown Jewels. Be sure to go on a guided tour with one of the Yeomen Guards (included with admission) to learn about the Tower’s history.

My second-favorite historical site in London is also medieval: Westminster Abbey. This is a breathtakingly beautiful church, and is well worth a visit if you are in the area. I especially enjoy wandering around Poet’s Corner and taking note of the well-known literary figures commemorated there. You may want to attend one of The Abbey’s choir and musical concerts, or one of the frequent religious services held there.

Another one of my favorite historical places to visit in London is the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, where you have the chance to stand on the Prime Meridian line and see where each new day starts. From there, you can experience the relaxing qualities of Greenwich Park, with its long sweeping vista up the hill to the Observatory, and you can see all the way down to the Thames River, where the Maritime Museum and Queen’s House stand.

5. London can be expensive—do you have any advice on managing your money?

You’ll need to be realistic about what you can afford and what is available in London in your price bracket. Unless you have a massive budget, don’t expect to live in the heart of central London in a large house with a garage. Instead, you may have to make do with a 2-bedroom apartment that is a bit of a walk from the tube station. Cars are expensive here, so I’d try to get by without one if you can. It’s much easier to join a car club or rent a car periodically, rather than have one all the time—remember, you probably won’t need it to get to and from work.

6. Where might you go for a weekend getaway?

Top of my list for a weekend getaway would be Paris. Jump onboard the Eurostar in St. Pancras Station, and two and a half hours later you’ll be in Gare du Nord.

If you’d prefer to stay in the U.K., then I’d suggest going to the Cotswolds and staying in a pub or B&B. Woodstock, Oxfordshire is a pretty town and is near to Blenheim Palace; or, if you are a fan of the Bard, you could stay in Stratford-upon-Avon and take in a play by the Royal Shakespeare Company.

If you fancy a trip to the seaside, I’d suggest you try the east coast in Suffolk—somewhere near Aldeburgh or Southwold. There are numerous stately homes to visit in this part of Suffolk, as well as the 7th century Anglo-Saxon burial mound of Sutton Hoo.

7. What do you love most about life in London?

The best thing about living in London is the sheer variety of things to do and see. I adore its old-world charm. It seems like there is a bit of history on every corner, be it the architecture or layout of the streets. I also like the fact that you can live just a few miles from the center of town, but be on a normal residential street in a house with a backyard. I also have to say that the public transportation system in London makes life much easier—especially for those with a regular commute to central London.

8. Where’s the best place to shop in London?

If you are looking for one place with everything under one roof, it’s hard to beat John Lewis on Oxford Street. It’s a massive, five-floor department store that sells just about everything you could want—there’s even a food hall in the basement.

With its numerous department stores, shops, and boutiques, Oxford Street is thought to be Europe’s busiest shopping street. When combined with Bond Street and Regent’s Street, the choice of shops available (and the crowds) can sometimes be overwhelming.

Of course, if you enjoy markets and are a “foodie,” then you should head to Borough Market on a Saturday to collect your specialty beer, Comté cheese, and gourmet chocolate.

9. Do you have any suggestions for finding employment in London? Are there any particular industries hiring at the moment?

In London, one of the largest employers for expats is the “City” (the banks and financial institutions that are based in the City of London). Another industry that seems to be doing well and expanding into London at the moment are high-tech and media companies.

Unfortunately, the prospects aren’t great for those looking to find a job in London directly, as it is getting increasingly difficult to find a U.K. employer willing (and able) to meet the sponsorship requirement of a Tier 2 work visa. Your best bet for a job would be to get a transfer to London through your American employer.

10. What is the one thing you wish you had known about living in London before you made the move?

Certainly I wish that I had a better knowledge of the city of London before I arrived. I was very lucky to find a great flatmate that knew London well and could give me advice about things to do and see, as well as where to shop.

From speaking to fellow expats, I know that those with children found the schooling system in London hard to grasp—especially understanding how the state system works (things like “catchment areas” and why living close to a school doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get a place there).

Blood, Kin and Structure: A Conversation between Andrew Vachss and Joe R. Landale, Part II

NsameMissed Part I? Read it here.

Joe Lansdale: It changed my life. Reading books and going to libraries. I mean we have so much that’s online now, but when I was growing up and you were growing up, libraries were very import, especially if you couldn’t afford books. And a lot of times I couldn’t. So I would spend a tremendous amount of time in libraries and books like Huckleberry Finn and To Kill A Mockingbird all changed my life, and not just in the way of teaching you certain things and reinforcing things you were being taught.

But there was a kind of magic and beauty and almost mythological element to those books, and I know that what I was striving for to some extent was to give this sort of excitement and suspense and to talk about the things that you and I have been talking about, but also bring this sort of beauty and magic to things that were sort of dark and enchanting at the same time.

Andrew Vachss: How big was the library that you had access to as a child?

JL: The original was a book mobile, and you know how big a book mobile is. It was essentially a little bus or van that came around that had books and you’d let kids come in one or two at a time and walk down the aisles and check them out, and then it came back a week or two later, whatever the time was, and then you returned that book and got another one.

And so that was my first one, and the second one was a library that at the time I thought was big. I mean I look at it now and I know it wasn’t. But I read every book in there that I possibly had an interest in, and then I went to the Gladewater Lot Library, which was a little bigger. But to me, I read anything that I could get my hands on. I mean if I found books in the garbage or if I found magazines . . . you know my mom picked up things for me when she could. But the original thing was the size of a small van.

Continue reading “Blood, Kin and Structure: A Conversation between Andrew Vachss and Joe R. Landale, Part II”

Blood, Kin and Structure: A Conversation between Andrew Vachss and Joe R. Lansdale

mJoe Lansdale: First of all, I love this new book, That’s How I Roll, by Andrew. And I was telling him this, in an earlier conversation, that I never read any of his books so terrifically well constructed. They all are, but man, this was is like a bomb builder putting something together very, very carefully, because if you go just a little to the left or right or cross the wrong wire, the whole thing blows.

And the way that this is put together also makes it difficult to talk too directly about it because if you pull one wire here you blow the whole thing, so I got to be very, very careful about that. But I think that everything you do well is in this book, Andrew. I believe that, not only the writing—Andrew always says the writing is all right—but that’s bull, he’s a terrific stylist, he’s a beautiful stylist. And if you doubt that, you should also read his poetry; he also writes Haikus that are just beautiful, and this, everything that he writes to me is like an extended Haiku.

This is an example of that—where it’s just beautifully constructed. And I think a lot of people will say it’s grim, and it is grim. But it’s also beautiful.  I would say—not to give anything away—I would say when you get to the end you have it come to—this grim story—you actually have it come to be an uplifting story. And I think that’s important, because that’s a part of Andrew’s life, because here’s a guy who has actually changed the laws to protect children. Not just one or two, he’s changed the very view of how people look at child abuse. You see it everywhere in the air now. But I’ve now Andrew for many, many years, and I know that when he first started trying to make people aware that this was going on, and the struggle about it, it wasn’t received that way. Am I right, Andrew?

Andrew Vachss: You could not be more right.

JL: I know you don’t want to brag about yourself, I’ll do the bragging for you.

AV:  I’m not bragging.

JL: But them is the facts Jack, right?

AV: Oh, yes. Continue reading “Blood, Kin and Structure: A Conversation between Andrew Vachss and Joe R. Lansdale”

Le Massif de Charlevoix

One of the many myths about people who live in northern countries (like, ahem, Canada) is that we are all adept at winter sports. Not so. Apart from ice-skating and a rudimentary knowledge of tobogganing, I am no more than a novice winter sportswoman.

The first time I went skiing, which was two years ago, I was terrified. I was still terrified when I hit the slopes for the third time ever a couple of weeks ago; this fear, however, had less to do with wiping out in the woods (which I did a good eight times or so) than it did with the frozen river in view. The thick ice floes I could see being carried upstream were miles away, but the clarity of their image made me feel as if I’d be taking an impromptu dip if I made even one misstep.

A view down the ski-slope with trees rising on either side.
The slopes of Le Massif offer astounding views.
Photo © Sacha Jackson.

[pullquote align=”right”]Le Massif has fifty-three runs to choose from, not including the beginner’s area or the huge off-trail section that lets experienced skiers take to the woods.[/pullquote]Located about an hour north of Québec City, Le Massif is indisputably the prettiest ski station in the province. Located in the Charlevoix region, one of the most diverse in Québec, the slopes are surrounded by rolling hills and the Laurentian Mountains, which sweep down to the St-Lawrence River. I swear the sky is a different shade of blue up there—and on most days, you can see clear across the water to the far shore.

This trip, I visited during spring break with two old ski pros, and the station was packed with families, flashy teens with snowboards, and agile four-year-olds who whizzed past me repeatedly throughout the day. The light snow that greeted us soon turned into a snowstorm. The hills couldn’t have been more picturesque, and though the snow made for difficult skiing, it was perfect for falling.

Since I’m such a beginner, I got a little help from one of the mountain’s guides, Denis, who introduced himself by telling me that he’s been skiing for fifty years. I couldn’t have asked for a nicer guy to show me the easiest route down the mountain. My favorite part of the day was when he took me on a run through a heavily wooded area; the rest of Le Massif was full of experts swooshing down the mountain, but this little trail, L’Echouage, was peaceful and picturesque, and it reminded me of all the reasons I love winter.

Le Massif has fifty-three runs to choose from, not including the beginner’s area or the huge off-trail section that lets experienced skiers take to the woods. All of the runs, however, get you to the bottom of the mountain—where I couldn’t help but notice that the river really is quite a ways away. Once at the bottom, I took a little time out for a hot chocolate at the chalet before hopping on a chairlift back up to the top.

Massif means “mountainous region” in French, but it’s convenient that it sounds like “massive” to the English ear—because it is. Altitude-wise, it’s a little over 2,700 feet—the highest vertical east of the Rockies—but the pristine surroundings and the views of the river are what make it an imposing figure. To get there, we took the provincial highway, a two-lane road that follows alongside the river before it heads into the mountains. The closest town to the mountain is Baie-St-Paul, which is about twenty kilometers down the road, and on the way there you spend a good portion of the drive realizing just how quaint this region is. Its rural atmosphere helps to give the station a certain charm.

Over the past couple of years there have been a few changes to the mountain—a gondola was installed in 2011, and there’s now a scenic train ride that you can take from Québec City to the mountain’s base for a couple hundred dollars—and a few more are on the way. So far, though, they’ve managed to modernize Le Massif without taking away from its natural beauty. As I continued skiing (and not falling) that day, I couldn’t help but think—and hope—that no matter the development that occurs there, the mountain will always have that relatively untouched feel that makes it unique.

When Lightning Strikes

Lightning illuminates the sky at night over a view of cars lining the road.
Lightning strikes in Rio. View from near Copacabana beach.
Photo by Laszlo Ilyes licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

I always take comfort in the fact that Brazil is spared the types of natural catastrophes that afflict many other countries. Tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanoes, blizzards, and avalanches are all unheard of and earthquakes are negligible to non-existent. Sure there are floods and mudslides, but in most cases, the damage they inflict is due to human negligence and lack of proper planning and infrastructure rather than Mother Nature’s viciousness.

[pullquote align=”right”]What most people–including, until recently, me–don’t know about Brazil is that it’s the country where you’re most likely to be zapped by lightning.[/pullquote]What most people–including, until recently, me–don’t know about Brazil is that it’s the country where you’re most likely to be zapped by lightning. That’s because when it comes to the frequency of raios, Brazil is the world champion. According to statistics compiled by the Grupo de Eletricidade Atmosférica (Elat) , a research group devoted to the study of atmospheric electricity, which is part of Brazil’s Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (Inpe), lightning strikes in Brazil around 58 million times a year – and 156,000 times a day.

Moreover, each year the number of lightning strikes has been increasing. Researchers at Elat believe that recent climate change is the culprit; they estimate that for every degree the temperature rises, the frequency of lightning can increase by between 10 and 20 percent.

Over the last 10 years, lightning bolts have been the cause of 1,321 deaths in Brazil. Last year alone there were 81 fatalities. The largest number occurred in the North (the state of Amazonas receives the largest number of lightning bolts; around 11 million a year), followed by the Central-West. The fewest number of deaths occurred in the South.

However, according to lightning specialist Oscar Pinto Junior, coordinator at Elat, the number of deaths is less a result of the frequency of lightning strikes than it is education and awareness levels. “If you go to regions where access to Internet or the media is limited, the number of deaths by lightning increases,” he pointed out in a recent interview posted on BBC Brasil. “Our research shows that 80 percent of deaths can be avoided if people know how to react during a storm.”

Elat realized that the same tendency holds true in the U.S.–which last year ranked 3rd in terms of lightning bolts with 35 million strikes. In fact, it studied American lightning-related safety procedures when putting together a primer aimed at helping Brazilians steer clear of high risk situations. However, it ended up having to make some adaptations due to cultural differences.

In the U.S., for example, many people are struck by lightning while out playing golf; the likeliness of this occurring in Brazil is about the same as having your car skid out of control on black ice. In Brazil, meanwhile, the leading activities linked to death by lightning are outdoor farming tasks such as taking care of cattle or working in the fields with metal tools and equipment. Unsurprisingly, 10 percent of Brazilian lightning fatalities take place on soccer fields.

To make sure you don’t get zapped while in Brazil, here are some Lightning Tips:

  • Stay away from wide open spaces (if on a beach, seek shelter off the sand)
  • Get out of the water (whether the ocean, a swimming pool, or even a shower); water is a major conductor of electricity
  • Cell phone aren’t a danger (unless they’re plugged into rechargers) nor are fixed phones (as long as they’re wireless).
  • Buildings are safer than houses, which are safer than being outdoors
  • If you’re in a car, shut all the doors and windows, sit back, relax, and stay away from all metallic surfaces. (There is no recorded instance of anyone in Brazil ever having been killed by lightning while sitting in a closed car).

Paraty, Brazil: Exploring a Colonial Jewel

View down a cobblestoned street lined with white-washed colonial single story buildings and the view of the harbor in the distance.
During the off-season, colonial Paraty is languorous without being dull. Photo © Rodrigo Soldon, licensed Creative Commons Attribution No-Derivatives.

Lying halfway between Rio and São Paulo, set amid blue ocean and jagged green mountains, Paraty is one of the most charismatic colonial towns you’ll ever encounter. Often referred to as a colonial jewel, it’s fitting that its origins are linked to the 18th-century gold rush. In the early 1700s, the Portuguese were looking for ways to facilitate the transportation of the extravagant quantities of gold found in neighboring Minas Gerais across the ocean and into their coffers. Traders widened an ancient Guaianá Indian trail that led through the Serra do Mar mountain range and down to the sea; at the end of the route sprouted the tiny port town of Paraty.

[pullquote align=”right”]In the summer, Paraty can get quite busy, but so far it has managed to stave off the mass hysteria and upscale trendiness of other resort towns such as Búzios.[/pullquote]Over the next few decades, Paraty grew into a modest yet stately town, its cobblestoned streets filled with single-story whitewashed mansions and austere but elegant churches. However, Paraty remained an isolated spot that was difficult to defend. Increasing bandit raids and pirate attacks took their toll and led to the building of a new gold route that linked Minas’s gold towns directly with Rio de Janeiro. As a consequence, Paraty’s importance declined, and over the next two centuries the town, always remote, slowly fell into oblivion. Its faded architecture remained frozen in time, preserved by its very isolation. In fact, until 1954 the only way to reach Paraty was by boat. It wasn’t until 1960 that the town was connected to both Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo by BR-101, the Rio–Santos highway. Shortly afterward, in 1966, its historical center was declared a national monument. However, it wasn’t until the 1970s that Paraty began to attract a small trickle of hippies and artists, who were drawn to its bucolic charm and rich historic legacy. Many settled here, and as a result the town blossomed into a cosmopolitan place. Artists and entrepreneurs from around the globe transformed its 18th- and 19th-century houses into private homes and ateliers, boutiques, cafés, restaurants, and hotels, which in turn lured a steady stream of weekenders from Rio and São Paulo as well as international tourists and, more recently, an alternative GLS (gay, lesbian, and sympathizers) crowd.

In the summer, Paraty can get quite busy, but so far it has managed to stave off the mass hysteria and upscale trendiness of other resort towns such as Búzios. During the off-season, the town is languorous without being dull, and it is easier to soak up its seductive atmosphere. Urban charms aside, the surrounding region possesses numerous natural attractions. Within close proximity are dozens of gorgeously primitive beaches and deserted islands as well as the majestic Serra do Mar mountain range, riddled with hiking trails and refreshing waterfalls.

Information

The Centro de Informações Turísticas (Av. Roberto Silveira 1, tel. 24/3371-4881, 9 a.m.–9 p.m. daily), located at the entrance to the centro histórico, has maps, bus schedules to other beaches, and other information. Two useful bilingual websites with lots of information are www.paraty.com.br and www.paraty.tur.br.

Getting There

Viação Costa Verde (tel. 21/2233-3809) offers 10 daily bus departures between Rio and Paraty (4.5 hours, R$50). Viação Reunidas (tel. 0300/210-3000) offers four daily departures between São Paulo’s Rodoviária Tietê and Paraty (6 hours, R$45). The Rodoviária (Rua Jango Pádua, tel. 24/3371-1224) is 500 meters (0.3 miles) from the centro histórico.

By car from Rio, simply follow BR-101, the Rio–Santos highway (236 kilometers/147 miles). From São Paulo, take the Rodovia Ayrton Senna and then the Mogi-Bertioga highway to BR 101 and drive north to Paraty (338 kilometers/210 miles). An alternative route is to take the Ayrton Senna to the Rodovia Carvalho Pinto and then take the Rodovia dos Tamoios to BR-101 (285 kilometers/ 177 miles).


Sights and Recreation

Paraty Sights

Paraty’s compact centro histórico is considered by UNESCO to be one of the world’s most outstanding examples of Portuguese colonial architecture. Although the streets are laid out on a grid plan, the uniformity of the bleached houses coupled with streets’ multiple names can make it somewhat of a challenge to find your bearings. The crazily paved streets—constructed by slaves out of large irregular stones known as pés-de-moleque (“street kids’ feet”)—mean that vehicles can’t circulate, but also makes getting around treacherous for those with disabilities or sporting high heels. During high tides, the sea actually swallows up some of the streets closest to the port, temporarily transforming them into tropical Venetian canals. While tides and rainwater can leave the streets slippery, they also keep them clean.

The best way to explore Paraty is by wandering around at random. Among the town’s most handsome sobrados (mansions) is the Casa de Cultura (Rua Dona Geralda 177, tel. 24/3371-2325, 10 a.m.–6:30 p.m. Wed.–Mon., R$8). Built in 1758, it hosts cultural events and has a permanent exhibition tracing Paraty’s history. Several baroque churches are also particularly interesting. The town’s oldest church, Igreja de Santa Rita dos Pardos Libertos (Largo de Santa Rita, tel. 24/3371-1620, 9 a.m.–noon and 2–5 p.m. Wed.–Sun., R$1), dates from 1722. Built by freed slaves, its interior houses a small collection of religious artifacts. Constructed a few years later, Igreja Nossa Senhora do Rosário (Rua do Comércio, 9 a.m.–noon Tues.) was built by and for Paraty’s slave population. Despite its simplicity, it is the only church in town with gold decoration on its altars, added in the 20th century. Paraty’s principal and most grandiose church, Igreja Matriz de Nossa Senhora de Remédios (Praça da Matriz, 9 a.m.–noon Mon. and Thurs.–Sat., 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Sun.) was where the bourgeoisie worshipped. Outside on the Praça da Matriz is a small daily crafts market selling local handicrafts. The town’s aristocrats held their services in the late-18th-century Igreja Nossa Senhora das Dores (Rua Fresca, 9 a.m.–noon Thurs.), with a privileged view of the sea and access to cooling breezes.

Venturing outside the centro histórico, take a 15-minute walk past Praia do Pontal to reach the Forte Defensor Perpétuo (tel. 24/3371-2289, 9 a.m.–noon and 2–5 p.m. Tues.–Fri., 2–6 p.m. Sat.–Sun., R$1). Crowning the Morro da Vila Velha, this fortress was built in 1703 to prevent Paraty’s gold from being hijacked by pirates. Restored in 1822, it houses a small museum with a display of local artisanal objects as well as a store selling handicrafts.

Beaches

Paraty is rich in beaches: More than 200 can be found along the surrounding coastline and among some 65 islands. Most of the island beaches can be visited by boats leaving from Paraty’s Cais de Porto. Those up and down the coastline can be reached by car or bus. Although the town has its own beaches, they aren’t that attractive. The closest, Praia do Pontal, is a 10-minute walk from the centro histórico. While its beach barraca scene is lively, swimming isn’t recommended. Cleaner and more deserted are Praia do Forte and Praia do Jabaquara.

Some of the finest and most easily accessible beaches are at Trindade, a fishing village and former hippie hangout 25 kilometers (16 miles) south of Paraty along the Rio–Santos highway that can easily be reached by bus. The stunningly wild beaches of Cepilho and Brava are ideal for surfing, while Praia do Meio and Praia Cachadaço (also good for snorkeling) are prized for their calm waters and natural swimming pools. You can get to Cachadaço by a 20-minute hike through the forest or by boat from Praia do Meio. Trindade’s most far-flung beaches—Praia do Sono and Praia dos Antigos—are gloriously unspoiled. Reaching them entails a 2–3-hour hike.

Also close by—18 kilometers (11 miles) southwest of Paraty, 8 kilometers (5 miles) of which are on an unpaved road—is Paraty-Mirim, with a lovely bay and invitingly calm waters, as well as beach barracas, that you can reach by municipal bus or by boat. From here, you can catch a boat to the beautiful beaches of Saco do Mamanguá, Cajaíba, and Grande da Deserta. This trio of beaches are all backed by lush jungle and boast waterfalls in close proximity.

Boat Excursions

Various schooners offer five-hour trips around Paraty’s bay with stops at islands such as Ilha Comprida (known for its diving) as well as otherwise inaccessible beaches such as Praia da Lula and Praia Vermelha. Lunch is included, as are caipirinhas (and sometimes rambunctious live music that might grate on those who imagined a more bucolic outing). For more information contact Paraty Tours (Av. Roberto Silveira 11, tel. 24/3371-1327), which also organizes diving, kayaking, horseback riding, and hiking trips. A five-hour tour costs R$40 pp. Individuals and small groups can also charter boats at an hourly rate from the barqueiros at Cais de Porto and customize the excursion. The hourly rate for a small boat that seats 7–15 people ranges R$30–50 pp.

Trekking

At the Associação de Guias de Turismo de Parati (tel. 24/3371-1783), individuals and small groups can hire guides to take them up and down the forested coastline to secluded beaches, with stops for bathing in bays and waterfalls. Another enticing journey is to follow the Caminho do Ouro, the route along which gold was transported over the mountains from Minas to Paraty during colonial times. The historical hike along a 2-kilometer (1.2-mile) stretch of irregular cobblestones can be done in the company of a guide from the Centro de Informações Turísticas Caminho do Ouro (Estrada Paraty-Cunha, tel. 24/3371-1783, 9 a.m.–noon and 2–5 p.m. Wed.–Sun., R$20). Ascending into the Serra do Mar, you are treated to breathtaking views of Paraty and the ocean.


Food

The majority of Paraty’s restaurants—as well as the most expensive—occupy charming sobrados in the centro histórico. Paraty has attained quite a gastronomic reputation, with many restaurants taking advantage of the abundance of fresh fish and seafood to create innovative fare. Caiçara is the name given to local specialties that draw on fish, game, fruits, and vegetables traditionally used by the Costa Verde’s indigenous peoples. One of the most popular recipes is a dish called camarão casadinha (“married shrimp”). This aptly named treat consists of two jumbo shrimp tied together and fried after being stuffed with a filling of tiny shrimp and farofa. You can savor this specialty at Hiltinho (Rua Marechal Deodoro 233, tel. 24/3371-1725, 10 a.m.–midnight daily, R$50–60), a traditional eatery famed for its camarões, both “married” and in other delicious arrangements.

Banana da Terra (Rua Dr. Samuel Costa 198, tel. 24/3371-1725, 6 p.m.–midnight Mon. and Wed.–Thurs., noon–4 p.m. and 7 p.m.–midnight Fri.–Sun. Mar.–Nov., noon–midnight daily Dec.–Feb., R$40–50) serves up caiçara fare with a touch of refinement prepared by Ana Bueno, considered one of Brazil’s top chefs. True to its name, various varieties of bananas make frequent appearances on the (somewhat overpriced) menu—in guises both savory (banana-and-cheese-stuffed squid gratiné with shrimp) and sweet (warm banana tart with cinnamon ice cream). Another traditional favorite with a loyal following, Margarida Café (Praça do Chafariz, tel. 24/3371-2441, noon–midnight daily, R$25–35) is an appealingly atmospheric restaurant-bar serving innovative cuisine and pizza and featuring live jazz and MPB every night.

The location of Sabor da Terra (Av. Roberto Silveira 180, tel. 24/3371-2384, 11 a.m.–10 p.m. daily, R$10–20), just outside the centro histórico, may justify the low-wattage decor and equally low prices. However, this per-kilo restaurant earns high marks in terms of the variety, freshness, and tastiness of its buffet offerings, including grilled fish and churrasco as well as salads and seafood dishes. Another inexpensive option is Le Castellet (Rua Dona Geralda 44, tel. 24/3371-7461, 5:30–11 p.m. Mon. and Wed.–Sat., noon–11 p.m. Sun. Apr.–Dec., 5–11 p.m. daily Jan.–Mar., R$15–20). Chef Yves Lapide has outfitted this cozy little crêperie with attractive decorative touches from his native Provence, but his real forte is the delicious sweet and savory crepes, along with other French fare such as seafood bouillabaisse and tarte tatin.

Casa do Fogo (Rua Comendador José Luiz 390, tel. 24/9189-5111, 1 p.m.–1 a.m. Thurs.–Tues. fall–spring, 1 p.m.–1 a.m. daily summer, R$25–35) takes its name literally: A majority of its main dishes, not to mention desserts and drinks, arrive at the table on fire (fogo). Taking advantage of the local cachaça supply, local chef “Caju” flambées everything from shrimp (served with guava rice) to mangoes and star fruit (served with passion fruit jelly). The romantic atmosphere is abetted by nightly performances of chorinho and MPB.

Ever dreamed about being stuck on a desert island—albeit one with a great seafood restaurant? Located on tiny Ilha Duas Irmãs, Kontiki (tel. 24/3371-1666, noon–5 p.m. daily, R$20–30) serves fresh shrimp, crab, and fish along with paella and seafood pastas on a shady veranda overlooking the bay. Where else can you go snorkeling between courses? A free boat offers transportation from Paraty’s quay. With a minimum of 10 people, the restaurant opens for dinner as well.


Excerpted from the Third Edition of Moon Brazil.

An Interview with Joe R. Lansdale: Part II

Joe R. Lansdale, whose acclaimed new novel EDGE OF DARK WATER caused New York Journal of Books to proclaim it has “all the potential of becoming a classic, read by generations to come,” recently took some time out of his day to talk with Mulholland Books about his inspirations and writing process while his novel works its way into bookstores across the country.

Missed Part I? Read it here.

Did you choose Hollywood as the characters’ destination for reasons other than May’s ambitions for her life? What do you think a place like Hollywood represent to people in Depression Era, small East Texas towns like the one in which EDGE OF DARK WATER is set? Did you have something in mind for what Hollywood represented for May Lynn, specifically?

Hollywood, especially then, the thirties, was one of those far away places that seemed to offer something special. It was a place someone could go to and become something new and shiny and famous. Or at least that was the thought. It was like Oz. A magical place.

It was a dream destination; it was very early on part of our American myth. I think for May Lynn it was that and more. It was a possible escape from poverty and the possibility of maybe working in a café and then becoming a wife and mother. Not bad ambitious, necessarily. But they weren’t good ambitions for her; she felt she was something special, and that there was a magic cloak out there in Hollywood somewhere waiting to be tossed over her shoulders.

Speaking of Hollywood, a few of your stories have been adapted for television and film, including the novella Bubba Ho-Tep, which was adapted into the cult classic film of the same name starring Bruce Campbell. Can you tell us a little about how it feels to see your writing transformed for the screen? Continue reading “An Interview with Joe R. Lansdale: Part II”

Wish You Well Foundation Receives Literacy Award

David and Michelle Baldacci and their Wish You Well Foundation were recognized by the Virginia Literacy Leadership Council for their outstanding support of and service to literacy organizations nationwide.  Click here to listen to David’s remarks about the importance of literacy services.

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