Monday, 28 June 2010

Cachaça & cachoeiras

Today I went on a tour in Paratay to visit a Cachaça distillery and to visit a few waterfalls (cachoeiras). The waterfalls where amazing, as were the plunge pools that we dived into.

The Cachaça distillery was pretty interesting, and the owner, Francisco, has made a good family business out of its production.

The process begins with the crushing of the raw ingredient, sugar cane, using a waterwheel to drive the machinery. This is the same handmade method which has not changed since colonial times. The resulting juice is left to ferment for 72 hours, sugar being converted into alcohol by the natural yeasts that occur on the plant. The base wine (around 12-14%) that is produced is then heated and condensed using a series of copper tubes, and this process takes around 3 hours.

The resultant Cachaça can then be sold as straight Cachaça pura, or aged for a minimum of 1 year in wooden casks such as the French oak cask shown. Alternatively you can buy flavoured Cachaça which has a variety of syrups added to it to provide extra flavour.

The owner explained that his Cachaça was completely organic and therefore produced no hangover (debateable) but nevertheless it’s very tasty when shaken with crushed ice, lime and a little (but not too much) sugar – known as a caipirinha.

He can produce 12000 litres per year and at the moment he just supplies Paratay and sells the remainer through the gift shop. When I asked him about scaling up he said its difficult to monitor the quality on a larger scale but that he is aiming to produce 30000 litres per year in 5 years time.

For more information visit

Friday, 25 June 2010


Using Paratay as our base I got a bus to the small fishing village and paradise that is Trinidade (Trin-ee-da-jee). You soon get used to the 'chee' sound that Brazillians love to use - even English looking words; Internet (in-ter-ne-chee), Facebook (face-ee-boo-chee). I can't get my head round where i'm meant to use it but apparently no word is complete without a bit of chee action.

The 20 minute bus ride to Trinidade was crazy. I wished I had my video camera as we flew through the twisty jungle roads descending down to sea level. Quite a few times I got air going over bumps and literally came out my seat. Nevertheless, on this journey we got talking to a guy from Paratay called Johnny who spoke really good English. He was heading to the beach too. We were asking himwhere we should go and he agreed to show us a few sights.

After chilling on the beach for a while, he took us to look at the coves around the bay, using a network of steep pathways through the jungle that grows over the islands. I properly felt like I was Robinson Crusoe as we made our way though this surreal landscape, climbing over huge round boulders and great tree roots. The final cove was the best - although we missed the sun disappearing behind the rocks by a few minutes. The cove was protected from the open ocean by a reef, so the water was still and there was this beautiful french girl swimming there, she said she'd been living in Trinidade for 4 months, I can see why it would be easy to stay.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Cristo Redentor

Went up to Cristo Redentor today, a 130ft statue of Jesus Christ, with his arms spread wide embracing and overlooking this amazing city. Apparently quite recently our hostel manager Hugh took a tour group up there to find a guy stood on the edge of one of the hands (Clearly a lie, I doubt he was there). He peered over the edge then jumped right off, free-falling for a second before releasing his base-jumping parachute.

The third photo shows Sugar Loaf Mountain, and you can just about make out the base for the top of the cable car that runs to the summit. Definitely have to go up on that before I leave.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Fifa Fan Fest

Its pretty hard to not get excited about the football in Rio de Janeiro, the game
was televised live on Copacabana beach at 3.30 but the warm up started long before,
with the sound of samba, air-horns and cars tooting at the thousands of fans descending
to the beach.

I'm still a bit sketched out about taking my camera out of the hostel, so unfortunately the picture
shown isn't mine, but it doesn't do it justice. The Brazilians have such a wild party spirit and it
was so funny to see close ups of randoms in the crowd on the big screen from the cameramen
who were wandering around, there was this old guy dressed as michael jackson that I particularly
warmed to, and of course the beautiful babes of every shade imaginable with hips that don't seem
to be attached to the rest of their bodies! I'll be surprised if I make it out of Brazil on this 6 month
South American stint at this rate!

Wednesday, 9 June 2010