Getting pretty good at spontaneity

I was wandering along the water here in Rio this morning and ended up walking past a small ferry terminal. I stopped and checked the map and saw that the ferries are part of the transit system, covered by the same transit pass I got for the subway. There are four ferry routes, three of which go to other parts of the city and one that just says “Paqueta”.

I had no idea what Paqueta is or means so I checked my phone and found it’s an island, an hour’s ferry ride away, and the ferry ride costs $2, DONE!

I scanned my metro card, entered a tiny waiting area and started looking for the ferry schedule. Turns out the ferry mostly just sails when it’s full enough, most of the time. Ah, South American scheduling and time.

After half an hour or so a small ferry pulled up, about 20 people got off and I got on along with the 6-7 other people who had been waiting with me.

I don’t think these other ferry riders have any idea I have no idea where we’re going

The little ferry sailed past amazing sights, under giant bridges, past romantic islands… and I got zero pictures of any of it, because the windows on the boat were completely covered in gunk.

After almost exactly an hour we pulled up to a dock, unloaded and I got my first view of this island.

While sailing to Paqueta I did some reading on the history of the island. Technically the island is part of the city of Rio, despite being an hour away. It was mostly a hunting ground for the local Guarani people until first discovered in the early 1500’s by French explorers who claimed it for France.

The tiny island became a getaway for French upper crusty types until Portugal decided there should be no more French in South America and the island became one of the main bases of operation for French forces attempting to avoid getting pushed out of Brazil. It didn’t work and the island became a Portuguese territory from then on.

“Downtown” Paqueta

I arrived on the island with no idea what was there, what to expect, but it was early morning and I needed coffee. According to Google there is one coffee shop on the island “Coffee Drink” so I headed there first. The woman working at Coffee Drink seemed very surprised at my request to drink coffee and informed me she was out of coffee.

Where I am!

I walked the block and a half of Paqueta’s downtown, there’s a hardware store, a clothing and mattress shop, a couple bars and restaurants and a small market, I grabbed some water and guarana juice in place of coffee and headed to the beach.

The entire island is less than one square mile, I wandered the beach encircling the island and ended up back at these swans about 3 hours later.

The island is home to about 2,000 people and has some homes that date back to the 1700s, the newer homes are also often really unique.

I forgot to take pics but eventually I found a cafe and had a lunch of lemonade (made with limes, of course, because South America) and prawn pastels (empanadas, sorry Brazilians, but your precious pastels are really just empanadas).

Because it’s almost winter here and with how wet and grey it’s been I had endless beaches to myself for the most part, luckily the weather was dry and actually occasionally a bit of blue sky showed for the first time since I got to Rio.

I was really enjoying the island and decided to look for a place to stay for the night, despite my new affection for spontaneity meaning I have nothing with me, no phone charger, no change of clothes, nothing.

I walked back to the market near the dock and bought a toothbrush and toothpaste and, with Google Translate’s help, started asking about a place to stay. I was directed to a house about 15 minutes walk up the road.

At the home stay I met the very interesting owner, Marcelo, who was born on the island and rarely leaves. He spoke some English and gave me an attic bedroom and some advice for things to see on the island. I like it here.

View from my room

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