Chantal and I had a great time in Brasil and especially during our workshop at the FHOX convention, 6th Congresso Paulista Da Foto. I’m sure that some of what I said may have been lost in translation but for the most part Hank (the interpreter) was able to keep up. I know that at times I would be speaking like a gas fed duck and then remember I was in a different country who’s mother tongue is Portuguese. We toured around the city for a few days with photographers Jeffery & Julia Woods and fellow Canadians Jennifer & Stephen Bebb. After the day long workshop the organizers sent us to the town of Paraty to relax and get away from the city of Sao Paulo and it’s congested streets. Sao Paulo is the largest city in Brasil with an estimated population of approx. 12,000,000 people living in a 1,500 square kilometre (588 sq. miles) area. Sao Paulo ranks 1st as the most populated city in the Southern Hemisphere. What they didn’t realize is that I love photography and the optimum light is early AM and PM just before dusk, so relaxing just didn’t happen 🙂 Each day I would get up at 6:00AM and head out onto the streets. The Hotel Coxixo accommodations were incredible.
Paraty is known for the cobblestone paved streets throughout the Historic Center District. No cars or trucks are allowed in this part of town, only foot traffic or bicycles. Motor vehicles are only allowed in the Historic District on Wednesdays for deliveries. Horses and carts are a very common sight in Paraty and are frequently used all around the city. Paraty has been able to maintain many of its historic buildings. Much of the architecture of the city has not changed for 250 years or more.
After the discovery of the world’s richest gold mines in 1696 in the mountains of Minas Gerais, Paraty became an export port for gold to Rio de Janeiro and from there on to Portugal. The ensuing gold rush led to the construction of the “Caminho do Ouro” or “Gold Trail”, a 1200 kilometer road, paved in steep areas with large stones, which connected Paraty to Diamantina and Tiradentes. Not only was it was used to transport gold to Paraty, but it was also used to convey supplies, miners and African slaves by mule train over the mountains to and from the gold mining areas. Two substantial sections of the Caminho do Ouro have been excavated near Paraty and are now a popular tourist destination for hiking.
The Gold Trail fell into disuse because of attacks on the gold laden ships bound for Rio de Janeiro by pirates who frequented the islands and coves of the Bay of Angra dos Reis. Eventually a safer overland route from Minas Gerais to Rio de Janeiro was created because of these pirate raids. Finally, the gold itself began to run out in the late 1700s, and Paraty declined.
Thanks to Portuguese engineering involving an ingenious curvature of the cobblestone streets, Paraty is home to a unique phenomenon. Once a month when there is a Full Moon and the tide is high, seawater rises from its normal levels, and pours into the Historic Center District through special openings in the seawalls that separate the city from the harbor. The streets are only flooded for a short time, until the tide recedes. The water is usually only six to ten inches deep and a few merchants near the seawall put out small bridges to span the flooded streets for the benefit of pedestrians. Fortunately for us the streets were dry, the weather was spectacular and as always the Brazilian hospitality over the top. Hopefully we can share our photography passions again with our Brazilian friends.
below: The Brazilian version of street meat
below: Stephen Bebb practicing his conference program.
Free enterprise in Brazil. A street merchant selling Sugar Cane Broth. Similar to us selling shots of paint thinner on the side of the highway. Yikes!… I liked his Visa marketing and stand 🙂