Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Day 14: Cunha to Paraty

Save the best for last! Unfortunately the weather had other plans for us - it had been raining all night and the view from our pousada´s veranda was all but motivating. If we had liked Cunha a little bit more and had the water in our pousada been just a bit warmer - I guess we would have stayed for one more day to wait for better weather. The last 20km to Paraty are a steep descent on dirt road and have been closed for cars for some time and I was afraid that the rain would make it hard to pass even for bikes! Anyhow, being our last lap we were ´doido´ to arrive in Paraty and decided to give it a try!

When we left our pousada despite the drizzle Cunha looked much friendlier and livelier to us then the day before: the whole place seemed to be up and decorating the streets with colored sawdust, creating a beautifull carpet all around the church. Traveling for nearly two weeks now we had completely forgotten that today was Corpus Christi!

We have had heard from many people that from Cunha on it just goes downhill - which is absolutely not true! After Cunha we faced some of the highest and longest climbs of the Estrada Real. Only when you reach the Sao Paulo - Rio de Janeiro state border, the fun starts! The tarmac stops and blends over into an earth road, which is officialy closed for transit... very promising ;-)

We rolled, slipped, slid down the earth road. Sometimes the road was covered in stones, sometimes the deep mud made it hard to pedal... And sometimes we had to break so hard our hands would hurt! The rain had stopped but it was very cold.

The view from the ´Serra do Mar´ must be great - unfortunately we couldn´t see a thing, the clowds were so low and thick - it looked like we were cycling down a hill that had no end.

After about 10km on the mud-rock-earth road a welcome surprise - the small bar run by Marta and Menininho, serving hot coffee and banana pastels! We ordered two, then another two... I never imagined that greasy pastels, chese, bananas and cinammon could go well together - but they do! Or maybe we were just very hungry... will have to try it again on a less famished day ;-)

About 3km from the pastel bar the tarmac starts again. Flavio´s mood seemed to get better with any km we came closer to Paraty. He started singing the ´going home´ song from Walt Disney´s 7 dwarfs and did little dances on his bike everytime we passed a sign saying ´Paraty´.

It seemed incredible... but we had made it! We had reached our final destination, Paraty! By the time we reached the historic center to take a picture with our last signpost we had already forgotten the steep climb and cold rain of the very same morning and instead of feeling happy that we had made it we felt sad that it was over.

We found the pousada the cowboy from Cunha had recommended to us (Pousada Daya, close to the bus station) it felt good but also a bit sad, to leave the bikes in the yeard and go out on our own to explore the city on foot. I don´t have to mention that the main topic of that evening was the Caminho das Diamantes from Diamantina to Ouro Preto ;-)

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