Monday, February 23, 2009

Ilha Grande

From Paraty we took the bus along the winding coast to the port city of Angra dos Reis. We caught a ferry to Brazil´s biggest island, aptly named Ilha Grande.
The ferry was a small sized schooner filled with fellow travellers, both gringos (foreigners) and Brazilians. Ilha Grande captured us from the begining. The small port town of Abraào is set at the base of lush green mountains formed from volcanos. The island is car free with the exception of the ambulance, police atv, and a tractor for collecting garbage. Food and other goods arrive alongside passengers on most ferries into town and their arrival is met with a rush of four-wheeled carts at the dock where the locals collect their orders. From there they push their heavy loads through the uneven dirt roads of the town.

Everything fell into place for us on Ilha Grande. Our unexpected poussada retreat was set back from town and hidden up the hill a little bit. The owner, Monica, is a yoga instructor and medicinal healer. Her property boasts coconut, pineapple, and banana trees as well as all sorts of plants that she uses in her practices. She also has a beautiful yoga studio where she teaches classes to the locals when the island is less busy with tourists. During our time there we had our own bamboo cabin, with a semi-outdoor shower and open concept design. We both loved curling up in the hammock on the patio for mini naps and reading. Island life is good!

We did our share of beach lounging around the main town but we also mixed in a couple really great hikes. The first one took us west on the island alongside beaches and even a freshwater pool beside an old aquaduct. The island has a history of being a place to send criminals and the remains of an old prison are still evident but getting grown over with green. We came across an old cobblestone road that must have connected different parts of this sprawling site. Of course, another cachoeira was on the list and this one was up some of the steepest slopes of the hike (and there were many)! We stopped for a little snack of ham chips, ew! They have steak and chicken flavoured too...i don´t think we will be trying those!

Another day, we hiked east on the island stopping at a beach on the way for lunch. We hiked up and accross a ridge and eventually made our way down to Lopes Mendes beach. The sand there is so soft it squeeked when we walked on it and the water so clear and turquoise. The beach is wide and bends around the bay. It is regarded as one of the country´s most beautiful beaches and it did not disapoint. We opted for a boat ride back to the town.

The water was calling to us and we decided to rest our legs one day and rented a kayak to explore a bit of the coastline. We paddled around an island several kilometres out and back along the shore, making one stop at a nearby beach for a swim and a snack.

We had such a relaxing time on Ilha Grande that we were reluctant to leave, but Rio de Janeiro and Carnaval are calling our names.

1 comment:

  1. jelous, jelous, jelous... my mom and dad said they stopped liking you because they're jelous. it was -29 this morning. boo.
    we love looking at your pictures and reading about your adventures. i'm really good at trying to touch they keys and grab at the laptop while mom is reading.
    we miss you. xo:)