Paqueta: a step back in time

The island of Paqueta is the kind of place that is all too rare these days. It is close to a large urban area but shares little in terms of how it has developed.

In particular, Paqueta has no motorised vehicles; only bicycles and horse-drawn carriages are supposed to move people around.

Horses still provide the driver power

Truth is, you’ll see a few trucks belonging to the municipal government, clearing garbage. You’ll also see a tractor pulling a makeshift bus. But, that’s about it. What parts of Rio have on Sundays and holidays, Paqueta has everyday.

It was once the weekend getaway spot for Rio’s rich, but now they apparently sneer at going there. If true, more space for visitors to Rio during the World Cup.

The ferry was full heading there in the early afternoon. Many were locals, but many were those foreigners still in Brazil for the remaining World Cup matches. Costa Rican fans were ‘licking their wounds’, after their team lost its quarterfinal on Saturday. Argentina’s fans were in boisterous mood, heading into their match against Holland on Wednesday. German fans, likewise.

Pick your ride

Brazilian fans, which were just about everyone else, were just still lapping up the goodness that comes from being hosts and still in the hunt.

Paqueta has little more to offer than its tranquility, but that’s worth a lot these days. We had lunch in a hotel restaurant that had been open since the 1920s.

Old phone

It had on display some technologies from the various decades: manual calculator, typewriter, old telephone, etc. It also offered some simple solid fare to eat. After a few days eating meat like Brazilians, I needed my meatless Monday. Fish was a welcome change, with a huge salad. It also offered the litre bottle of beer.

Beer by comparison with other liquids

My older daughter and I chose not to rent bikes after lunch, for fear of buttacheitis, but walked on the beach instead, admiring the calm of the sea and some of the old buildings. We then sat to watch the sun start to set.

A mother was trying unsuccessfully to get her daughters to stop rolling in the sand and head home. Some fishermen sat without shirts sharing a bottle of what looked like white rum. The beach had stone chess tables, and I could visualize moves being made decades ago.

We took our pictures, several minutes apart, and gawped at the stunning mountains in the background. I don’t know what my daughter was thinking, but I imagined living here centuries ago and wondering who lived in those mountains or what was happening on the mainland. I would have had my fishing and been content.

The sun set for the day, but thankfully it will rise on Tuesday to greet this sleepy island unchanged.

Author: Dennis G Jones (aka 'The Grasshopper')

Retired International Monetary Fund economist. My blog is for organizing my ideas and thoughts about a range of topics. I was born in Jamaica, but spent 30 years being educated, living, and working in the UK. I lived in the USA for two decades, and worked and travelled abroad, extensively, throughout my careers and for pleasure. My views have a wide international perspective. Father of 3 girls. Also, married to an economist. :)