Ilha Grande, Brazil. Jungle hikes, beaches and a hammock.
As I write today I am sitting on our balcony overlooking a picture perfect view: blue ocean , mountains covered in tropical rainforest and a little harbour where traditional boats bob up and down. The waves crash in and the wind chimes tingle. Getting to this paradise 3 days ago was a slight adventure though.
We got off the bus at the nearest port only to find a little man had swiftly loaded our bags in a trolley and was already on his way to a boat. We had missed the main ferry and knew a private boat was our only option. 5 minutes later ourselves and the bags were on the boat and expecting it to leave. In Brazil however things move at a slightly slower pace… an hour and a half hours later, we were still sitting there at the port wondering when the boat would leave. Eventually the driver/owner said he was waiting until he had 25 people otherwise it would be too expensive to run the boat. Almost 2 hours and we had 15… no other boats around… we were disgruntled but defeated. Suddenly a tiny boat pulled up alongside and there was a flurry of activity as people threw themselves and their backpacks on board. Finally we were off! If only… first there was a long heated argument between some Brazilians and the driver which I eventually realised was because there was a sign saying “15 passengers max” and we now had more than 20 plus luggage.The Brazilians were clearly worried… My anxiety was not helped when a Brazilian woman began making the sign of the cross over her chest as we set off.
10 minutes later the driver quickly motioned us all to cram ourselves further forward in the boat to balance it. I was right at the front inside, and as I planned which window I would be able to slither out of if we sank, the boat was lurching badly from one side to the other. An hour later I made a dash over the bags and people to the back of the boat and the spent the next hour hanging over the side.
All this was definitely worth it though when we arrived. Ilha Grande is just a tropical paradise. Somehow saved from being ruined by tourism, it’s covered with thick green jungled hills and scores of perfect crescents of white sand. The whole island is car free and its one port town is a few streets of cute whitewashed houses and shops. Our Pouasada (B&B) ‘ O´Pescador’ is right on the beach with our own balcony overlooking it, we even have a hammock to laze in.
Yesterday we did manage to leave the hammock for long enough to hike to the other side of the island to a beach which is supposed to be among Brazil’s best. The path took us up and down hills, through steamy jungle, rivers and waterfalls and right down to a perfect beach called “Dois Reis”. At each end a fresh clear river flowed into the sea. With the intense humidity it was one of the hardest days hiking I have ever done.
It was at the aforementioned Pousada that a love story was born between Jason and Katie, the Pousada´s cat. They would while away hours together with a piece of string, curl up together downstairs to watch CNN, laze together in the hammock, and she even sat at our table for breakfast one day whilst Jason lovingly fed her ham and cheese.
Well all that is past now (I wrote that a few days ago) and after an emotional goodbye to Katie, we are now back to reality in Sao Paulo for 1 day. It appears to be a massive, busy and scary city so far. Tomorrow we get an overnight bus to Campo Grande – in the middle of Brazil where we will do a trip to the Pantanal.