We booked a Catamaran to Ilha Grande, Brazil’s third largest island at Angra dos Reis. The island’s mountains and forests reminded us of a Jurassic Park movie. The Catamaran dropped us of in the port of Abraao village at around 12h. Our hostel, Che Lagarto, were about 800m further along Beach Road (literally the beach).
At Che Legarto we discovered that the hostel had no electricity or water or internet and the kitchen was only available to use on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays…(why the face ????) At least the beds were available on all the days of the week, and were much more comfortable than the one at Casa do Rio. We shared a dorm room with two friendly guys from Chile.
Our first day on the island were spent exploring the nearby beaches, the Abraao village, and the small nature reserve next to Abraao. The island is a small paradise. The relaxed island atmosphere, the beautiful beaches and forest could let you end up spending weeks there without even noticing the time going by. Unfortunately, we had only one night to spend there before going to Rio.
On Ilha Grande, we had our first real introduction to the Brazilian bikini. I’ve never met so many people (super small, small, medium, large, extra large and extra extra large) willing to show of their buttocks with so much confidence! Wow! I must admit, at times it was a blinding sight. At least some of them have seen the sun, but when a European woman tries her hand (or buttocks) at the Brazilian bikini, you need some sunglasses.We discovered a little beach in the nature reserve called the Praia Preto (Black Beach). The sand on the beach is black. At first we thought it to be oil polution, but then discovered that it was actually black sand. The black sand is heavier than the white sand, resulting in the formation of black/white patterns on the beach.
We also found some blue crabs in the nature eserve. Unfortunately we couldn’t get a proper photograph of them, but here is a picture I got from Kerry Kriger’s blog.
The Abraao village is such a cute little town. Obviously geared toward tourists, the locals make a living from restaurants, shops, and owning a boat (or having a cousin who owns a boat). The supermercado was okay, but still small with limited stock. We bought some veggies and chicken in the hope that the hostel managed to fix the power supply. Drinking water on the island costed 3 Reais (R13) per 1.5 liter (the water in Brazil is too polluted to drink normal tap water).
Back at the hostel, still no electricity or water…so we ended up eating bread with jam and biltong, a carrot and cookies. After our very delicious dinner, we went back to the village for some ice cream on the beach. It seemed that all of Brazil decided to spend easter weekend on Ilha Grande. All the restaurants, bars and streets were crowded with people untill the early morning hours. On our way back in the dark we saw hundreds of crabs on the beach – we had to play dodge-crab in order to “safely” reach our hostel.
So back at the hostel again there was still no electricity or water. And then there is the “throw you toilet paper in the bin” thing which was becoming really gross. Added to that I had to share a bathroom with 3 men, which was quite a challenge 😉 There are much nicer hostels than Che Lagarto on the island (even if we had electricity and water). They did give us a 20% discount, but besides that, the hostel was not very clean or safe and the staff were not as good or helpful compared to other hostels we’ve stayed in. If ever you get the chance of going to Ilha Grande over Easter – book far ahead in a nicer place!
Next morning we had a quick breakfast at 8am afterwhich we went on a hike towards Lopes Mendes beach (2.5 hours away).
We got stuck halfway at Palmas beach where we spent the rest of the morning. The sea was calm, clear and without any waves (like a swimming pool). Not a surfing spot at all, but a lovely beach tobathe your time away in the sun. Our good time was cut short by … hmm… time as we had to make our way back to catch the 2pm escuna (read slow boat) to Mangaratiba.
We arrived at the dock about 30min early and was showed to a boat that, apparently, was an extra boat organised for the long weekend. The boat was crowded, but we managed to leave Ilha Grande about 15min early. The escuna trip was quite an experience itself as the sea was not very calm. One unsuspecting traveler, who made himself comfortable on the floor of the escuna, was soaked to his socks when the water came streaming in. A few other rough sea incidents served as onboard entertainment during the 90min trip (which was advertised as 45min).
We arrived at 15h15 in Mangaratiba, and just managed to catch the veerrry late 14h30 bus to Rio. We left Mangaratiba just as the boat we were suppose to be on docked at the port. It turned out that we were extremely lucky to catch that bus, as the next one was due to leave Mangaratiba at 19h30. By chance we ended up next to a guy who studied in the USA and spoke English, so he acted as translator when we had to pay for the bus trip.
Ilha Grande is an amazing place. It reminded me of Ps 23.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. 3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.
One day we would like to be able to say the same as the apostle Paul in his letter to the Phillipeans. Our experiences on Ilha Grande are small steps toward being content in all things.
11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.