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We happened on paradise a couple of weekends ago. Tried to arrange a place to stay in the mountains in Campos do Jordao, but the few places that accept dogs had no rooms available. Drove up thinking we had a spot reserved on Expedia, but that hadn’t actually gone through. They had no rooms, but hadn’t let Expedia know.

So, we drove up into the mountains for a few hours and then back down to the flatlands. Good thing it was a gorgeous drive!

We contacted a posada in the town of Guararema, made a reservation, and arrived at dark, scouting slowly along the dark streets for the posada. I figured if it didn’t work out, we’d just head back to Sao Paulo about an hour away.

Ah, but the travel gods were with us!

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Room 7 was ready and waiting, and the posada was a delightful surprise (definitely can’t judge a book by its cover here in Brazil when it comes to “curb appeal” and the actual building). (How many times have we judged a restaurant as lacking in atmosphere, only to discover its beauty inside?)

Upon entering, you see the lovely courtyard with pool, tables and chairs, colorful walls, and garden ornaments (including a nursing pig, chicken and rooster, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Don’t judge.)

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The staff at the posada are welcoming and very helpful. (I believe a few speak English, though I wouldn’t swear to it. We spoke Portuguese with them, but I think André the night manager speaks English.)

Our room looked out over the docks with its free bamboo fishing poles, and the river.

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The room was pretty basic, but very comfortable.

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The bathroom was tiled and the shower was powerful. (One caveat: you don’t flush toilet paper at the posada, but put it in the wastebasket by the toilet.)

The complimentary breakfast is offered in the open and inviting sun room, where you can also help yourself to “tea” in the evening. On offer is bread, cereal, fruit, fresh juice, coffee or tea, and some cold cuts. It won’t satisfy an enormous hunger, but is sufficient for light eaters.

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On the river level are three comfortable hammocks set at the river’s edge among sheltering bamboo stands and a lawn.

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There is also a churrascoria (barbecue), where you can cook your own midday meal, if you wish.

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On the dock, you’ll find the fishing poles and shaded table and chairs, perfect for an afternoon lounging at the river’s edge.

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There is also a speed boat, but that stayed in dry dock while we were there. I’m sure in the summer it will be available for a spin on the river. There is no swimming allowed in the river, and from all the comments we heard, that’s likely because of a health issue. The river is clean at its source, but suffers the hardships of civilization in the Guararema area.

The pool appears to be unheated, but at the end of winter when we were there, it was simply brisk, so in the summer I’m sure it’s refreshing. There is a small area for little ones to splash, as long as an attentive adult keeps watch. There is also a steam sauna, accessible by swimming under a wall at the end of the pool, or through a doorway (for those less adventurous or those who don’t want to hop into a cold pool to exit).

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The posada is at the outer edge of the town, probably too far to walk to dinner at one of the restaurants in town, but there is a pizza place hole-in-the-wall two blocks down, and a couple of small markets nearby.

Each room features a small refrigerator, to keep your drinks and other perishables chilled.

At night, you can lie in bed and listen to the symphony of bird sounds, and perhaps hear the contented squeal of capybaras on the shoreline. Best of all, you can look at the night sky and see STARS!

The Posada Maria Florencia is only an hour away from Sao Paulo, but that means a world away.