The ability to work just about anywhere is one of the more liberating attributes of today’s interconnected world. The opposite is also true. Some of us have been able to stake out perches in choice locales that support a decent quality of life and an online income. Others remain permanently chained to the drudgery of today’s wired infrastructure, committed 9-5 to the office while remaining online 24/7. Employers love it if you work from home, as long as it’s not during business hours.
What this means is that work and travel sometimes overlap. It’s not something I encourage, but a reality that’s hard to avoid. However, nobody says you have to be miserable while you’re doing your job – with some strategic planning, you can earn a bit and keep you customers happy, all while checking out some great locales.
That’s what I faced on a trip to Brazil. Deadlines had been pushed back, revisions had to be made, last minute assignments had popped up. I needed a spot where I could fire up my laptop for three or four days to finish my work without having to change my flight plans. Paraty, a small colonial-era gem, just south of Rio, fit the bill.
Paraty is a museum piece on a beach – actually around 300 beaches, if you include the nearby shoreline and islands. Founded in the 16th century, the town initially prospered as a stopover for gold prospectors from the interior and Rio, the more successful of whom built the town’s large churches and colonial buildings. The gold went away and modernity came late to the town (major roads didn’t arrive to the region until the 1950s and 60s) but town planners wisely preserved the colonial buildings and cobblestone roads, going the extra step to ban automobiles from its historical district.
This combination of urban charm and geography has served as a magnet for artisans and visitors alike – the town now plays host to myriad festivals, performances, and art galleries featuring the works of local artists. Festivals include both staid religious affairs and more lively events such as Carnival and the Festival da Pinga, which celebrates Cachaça, a popular cane-based liquor.
I just missed one of these festivals, which was unfortunate, but meant I had no problem finding a great place to stay and there wasn’t a lot to divert me from getting my work done. That’s not to say I didn’t take in all that Paraty had to offer, including copious amounts of Cachaça and what seemed to be ongoing celebrations, performances, and art fairs in the town. Paraty might have been between festivals, but there was still a lot going on.
And no time in Paraty would be complete without a ride on one of the many schooners that offer their services out of Paraty’s port. My half-day ride explored the countless hidden islands and beaches in the vicinity. The trip a provided bit of history into the area and plenty of opportunities to jump off the boat, swim up to the shore, and lounge around on the beach. (They also provided small craft to ferry you in if you wanted to stay dry.)
Throughout all of this, I did manage to get my work done, send the finished product to my client, and get paid. My accommodation – Pousada Villaggio – provided a large room and a desk to work although I spent a lot of time writing under an umbrella next to the pool. Nice work if you can get it.
Click on photos below to see larger image and slide show.