Paraty Beach Party

After an amazing 3 days in Ilha Grande, we catch a crazy bus ride through the mountains to Paraty, which is located on the coast between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Tourists love this town for it’s historical colonial buildings, cobbled streets, and for the parties and events that are held there on the build up towards Carnival.

Paraty Beach Party.

Firstly, this beach party was full of drunk tourists. But there’s something about being a tourist in Brasil, or maybe something about being an old drunk hippy tourist in Brazil high on acid, that made this peculiar man stand out in front of the flaming bonfire, raise his hands as if he were about to do something spectacular, only to whip out his flute and pretend to play meaningful unheard notes that were accompanied by failed tribal dance moves (squatting, standing, lifting arms, big eyes with a theatrical look of wonder.)

It was bitterly disappointing, yet satisfying to watch. He was a man on the edge, and through him it was nice to know where that edge was.

Funny shit.
As I looked through the series of photo’s of this flute playing fire dancing man, English Adam was in the background of each photo… indicating that he thought the old man sucked.

Tea picking for T?

The act of drinking tea, and Tea houses are a valuable part of the Chinese culture, so I decided to enjoy an afternoon of visiting an old-school chinese town called Ling Pe and experience the highly recommended art of tea picking.

Accompanying me on this tour are 2 German men, Bernard and Christoph, and a couple from the UK, Helen and Ed.

Our Chinese driver, who can speak only chinese, takes us to Liz’s Courthouse, which accommodates a lush green tea plantation up on a hill surrounded by bamboo forests with an amazing view over the countryside. He begins informing and instructing us on how to pick a good tea leaf as we all got to work.

Priding myself on being the kind of person who appreciates all sorts of cultural activities and has a keen interest for a vast range of topics, I listen intently with the ears of a dedicated student and went about my tea picking with a forced enthusiasm.

Unexpectedly, after my initial questions (How do you harvest? Is this green tea? How much do you sell it for? and Can you smoke it?) and after 5 minutes of practical, I found myself getting distracted, the mosquito’s were bugging me. I wondered fearfully if there were any venemous snakes or spiders lurking near my feet? I was irritated that my trekking shoes were getting extremely muddy.

T, thinking – Ok, you’re not getting into the experience, just calm down and try to see the joy in it that everyone else can. Be one with nature. It’s like meditating, just breathe and do the activity. Be one with the picking. Yoga zen yoga zen yoga zen..tolerance tolerance tolerance… (Tummy growls) God, I’m STARVING!

I shamefully and disappointedly admitted to myself that I had no interest in the activity and was completely and utterly BORED, and starving because I was bored. I was done pretending to be a happy tea picking hippy and could have easily learnt this from television as I flicked past the tea harvesting channel.

I broke the (supposedly) tranquil silence and ask Bernard, who I admired for his ability to speak 4 languages and the fact that he was in China to perform as a musician at a charity event, to ask the driver how long more did we have to do this for and, more importantly, when was lunch going to be served?

Bernhard – ‘Now. He must have heard your prayers’

T – ‘I started praying an hour ago’

Bernhard, laughing – ‘I know, 20 minutes would have been enough’

T, smiling but thinking – More like 2 seconds.

What I have learnt about myself? I enjoy drinking the tea that other people skilfully cultivate and harvest. And that learning to meditate in India could go either way, but if I can master it, will be an extremely handy skill to have.