BootsnAll Travel Network

Para Ti

20 June 2005 (Monday) – Rio de Janeiro to Paraty, Brazil

I had found out the bus schedules to Paraty earlier – 4am, 6am, 9am, 12+pm, etc… Who in the world heads out anywhere at 4am or 6am?? I would aim for 9am. That meant waking up at 7am! If I miss it, then, I would just sit in the rodoviaria and stone for 3+ hours.

I made it, with 10 mins to spare. Yeah.

At a coffee-break stop, a Brazilian guy started chatting with me. His name is Marcelo. On learning that I am a Chinese, he decided to practise a few words in Chinese with me. What is going on here in South America? I just keep meeting people who are learning Chinese! I mean, it is great to realise that they are interested in the language and the culture. I just felt so surprised. His pronunciation was not that bad either, considering he studied by himself with books. I take my hat off to him.

I had hoped to stay in a nice little pousada upon arrival at Paraty but the price for pousadas was a lot higher than the hostel. OK, the musty-smelled hostel won.

With a light drizzle pattering away, I started my exploration of the Centro Historico (Historical Centre) of Paraty. No, wait… first, I had to eat something. I passed by a lanchonete and *groan* ordered a burger.

Lanchonetes are small snack bars, selling burgers, pastries and drinks. Their menus always have X-something, like X-egg, X-bacon, X-salada, X-tudo (everything). In my last trip here, I never understood what ‘X’ truly meant. Now, I know. In Portuguese, they pronounce ‘X’ as ‘shees’, which sounds like ‘cheese’. So, X-burger is cheese-burger. Actually, ‘shees’ sounds like ‘grease’ as well. Not surprisingly, my burger was dripping with grease. Gross.

The first few stores I popped into were all touristy little shops, selling touristy things like T-shirts declaring ‘Paraty’, or little souvenirs like wooden fish, ship-in-a-bottle, sea-shell whatever and other maritime or nautical items to remind you of the pretty sea-side port-town of Paraty. There were many hammocks and knitted throws for the couch as well.

Colourful colonial houses of charming Paraty

I was getting bored by the 8th souvenir shop which sold the same things, when I started to stumble upon a couple of art galleries. Really interesting art galleries at that, some with amazingly creative and witty pieces of art. I was mighty impressed. I think Paraty might be a little town of artists.

At one point, I felt my pocket and realised I had dropped my map of Paraty. At first, I thought, oh forget it… I am not going to get lost in Paraty, it is so small and compact. Then, I felt bad having dropped a piece of litter here in Paraty, a protected historical site at that. So, I retraced my steps to look for the map. I walked back 3 blocks and spotted nothing. I nearly gave up, but then, I caught sight of something way ahead and went to pick it up. Yeah, my map.

Now, I walked back the same route and this time, I popped my head into an artist’s studio. I was captivated by the colours on the wall. The jolly-looking artist invited me in. Later, he asked me something in Portuguese, before trying English on me. We then got to chatting.

Artist Aecio Sarti at work

His name is Aecio Sarti. He is such a great, happy guy! And my goodness, his works are truly original and absolutely stunning. My eyes were popping out as I stood around, admiring his colourful creations. I mean, there are some works of art that are really pretty, but others just stop you dead in the tracks and even others that speak to you. Aecio’s works are just those that you stop right away and gaze upon with your jaws wide-opened and you just see so many stories in them. At least, for me.

One of the interesting paintings by Aecio Sarti

Take a look at his website:  Aecio Sarti Atelier Paraty

He himself could not describe his work. Some say it is almost cubist, others say it is like naif art (especially in the background). At the initial moment, I simply had the feeling that his art has some messages or a story behind and I stared at one painting and another, analysing the details.

Indeed, the paintings are related to a story which he had written himself. The story is ready for publication, but as the publisher wanted illustrations, and he is extremely busy now, preparing for an art exhibition, the book is still pending somewhere. He told me part of the story and I then appreciated the poetry behind the paintings more.

He mentioned that as a child, from the age 9 to 13, he was homeless and had to beg for food for these 4 years. I then asked if this was why the paintings he drew were all children of the age 9 to 13. He agreed. Wow. There is a distinct cross-bar across the forehead of each of the children. He said it represented ‘fraternity’. Wow again.

I ended up staying inside his studio for 2.5 hours, watching he and his assistants put together simultaneously 3 or 4 paintings. His assistants do not touch the painting unless he gives the go-ahead. Only he mixes the colours, and his assistants just paint the flat-areas or do some preliminary composition sketching. The ideas are all in his head, only he knows what colours he want, where this thing should go. I even posed for him briefly as he needed to sketch a hand placed on a shoulder. OK, I was ‘the shoulder’, not ‘the hand’, but how many of you can say that you have posed for an artist before? Huh?

I had an absolutely incredible time with him, just chatting, listening, learning, watching. Then, I realised, I dropped the map for a reason. I mean, I had already passed by this spot the first time without noticing the studio. Yet, dropping the map and making the decision to retrace my step, made me pass by the studio again. It is a kind of magic for me. It may not mean much to other people, afterall, it was just a chit-chat, but somehow, I felt really lucky, really privileged to have made my acquaintance with the talented Aecio Sarti.

I returned to my hostel, totally happy. As I am on Day 1 of my starving period, I sat in the living room watching a soap opera and munching away at my stale, tasteless bread when a guy in his 50s or so, muttered something in Portuguese to me.

Err… whatever he had asked, I figured the answer should be “Singapore?”. He continued on in Portuguese, before switching to basic English when he only drew blank looks from me. I answered each of his curious little questions simply as I realised that his English was not too strong. He finally asked if I spoke Spanish. “Sí. ¿Y usted? (Yes. And you?)”, I hazarded. Yep, he spoke Spanish as well as he had lived in Peru for a year. Phew!! “Hablamos en español entonces. (We speak in Spanish then.)” I suggested.

Artist-writer Jose Efigenio Pinto Coelho

I drew a chair closer and we chatted for quite a while about this and that, before I found out that he is an artist as well. He is José Efigênio Pinto Coelho from Ouro Preto and he is drawing a series of paintings representing ‘The Way of the Gold’. I think he meant that during the Portuguese colonisation in 1700s, Brazil had a lot of gold. So, mining towns sprung up in the Minas Gerais province and a slave-route was established all the way to Paraty, the main port in those days for exporting gold to Portugal. He had completed about 40 paintings now on the towns and cities related to this part of Brazil’s history. So, he is now in Paraty to paint something.

[An update on his exhibition (in Portuguese) Cultura – Últimos dias da exposição Estrada Real de José Efigênio which I found later over the internet.]

We talked more about the cultures of South America and I mentioned I like South American literature and he said that he is also a writer. Wow! He went to his room to retrieve a little book called: José de Ali Baba e o Comando Vermelho (Jose of Ali Baba and The Red Commander). It is a romance with a different touch and about a guy who changed after he returned from his travels. “Como yo. (Like me.)”, I whispered. He heard me and smiled, yes, one does change after one has travelled. I read the first paragraph and to my surprise, although it was in Portuguese, I could more or less figure out what it meant… so far. Then, I was in for another surprise, he gave me the book! He wrote on the front page, a dedication to me and signed off ‘PARA TI’.

Paraty is also sometimes spelled as Parati. And in Spanish, para ti means ‘for you’.

Wow, for me…

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2 Responses to “Para Ti”

  1. Louise Says:

    Hello there,

    I am delighted with your diaries. My sister and I went to Paraty two years ago, fell in love with the place, and bought a condo. We have written our own diaries about what it is like for two older American sisters to buy property in Brazil. We stay 3 to six months at a time so if you really want to know Brazil and Paraty, ask me. Our next trip is March 2007-Sept.2007.

    Also Aecio is our friend. In fact we own one of his large pieces and my sister helps him send art to the States. He was our “stand-in” for finalizing our purchase. He is indeed an amazing and charming man. Hours in his studio fly by.

    So again, if you really want to know more about Paraty, write me.

    Fellow spirit in travel…Louise

  2. Posted from United States United States
  3. Marcus dorsey Says:

    HI! Louise my name is marcus i live in jacksonville fl and go to brazil every five months,i am looking to buy a house or condo there if you could let me konw about the buying game in paraty it would be a great help. Thank and take care marcus.

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