Brazilian Paradise Found.

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
Trip End Dec 31, 2020

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Where I stayed
Studio Green Hostel

Flag of Brazil  , Rio de Janeiro,
Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I sit writing this looking out over the bluest of blue bays imaginable dotted with little jungle clad islands and peppered with tourist boats. Looking up I can see the dense forested mountain we climbed for three and a half hours yesterday to get to the beach of Lopes Mendes. The sounds are of the happy chatter of Brazilian holidaymakers, (for this is a holiday destination for Brazilians, more so than foreigners), children coming home from the nearby school, the foghorns of departing tour boats that ferry holiday makers to other beaches and lastly, and unfortunately, the incessant barking of dogs.  If there is one blot on the copy book of Ilha Grande it has to be their stray dog problem. But for now we are relaxing with this perfect view, knowing dinner is sorted (our hostel host Jorge is cooking for A$6 per person).

Ilha Grande was recommended to us as a destination by our son Daniel, who had been here, and Brazilian friend Elaine. It is a paradise with no private cars and transportation being only on foot or by boat. There are lots of cafes, restaurants and bars right on the sand at the waterfront. Our hostel room is a studio with our own bathroom, cooking facilities and a spiral staircase leading up to our bed on a mezzanine. This cost us the princely sum of A$41 a night including a sumptuous breakfast.

Our trip to Ilha Grande was however anything but relaxing. It was a bit like that show on TV "Race Around the World “. You know the one where they are always running to catch the next transport and having language difficulties.  We had an eight am bus booked to take us to Angra dos Reis, down the coast where we were to catch a ferry to Ilha Grande. We booked a taxi the night before for 7.15am from our hostel. After lugging our packs down the two flights of steep stairs we waited and waited. No Taxi. We are now locked out of the hostel gate and it is 7.30am, so a frantic intercom call to open up the gate again, had me running up the stairs to beg them to find out if the taxi is still coming. Stuck in traffic was their answer. Raced back down the steps again and we set off on foot running, with our packs, to get to a main road where we hoped we could catch a cab. Found a cab then the next problem “no comprehendo". I frantically tried to write down the Portuguese words for bus station then Avan hit on the idea of getting out the ticket which was of course written in Portuguese to show him and we were away. Our driver got into the spirit of our “pronto!!” calls and rushed us to the bus station. We ran through the doors and grabbed the nearest official, calling out “Platform 8?, Platform 8?” and we were pointed in the right direction. Still running Avan got caught behind an old lady with bundles of those stripey bags, but finally we saw the right bus, with its luggage compartments closed and engine running We bounded up the steps of the still open door, registered a very disapproving look from the driver, and fell into our seats, laughing and relieved we had made it.   

Our plan had been to get to the Rio bus station in plenty of time to go to the ATM, as we were very short of Brazilian Reais, but of course that did not happen. So on arrival at Angra dos Reis we had two questions to ask an information officer who had a little English. “Where is an ATM and where can we book the ferry?” The answers to these questions took us off on another “Race around the World” sequence. The next ferry left in 20 minutes and there was not another one until three pm, but the ATM was not close. We did not have enough money for our ferry ticket and there were no ATM’s on the island we were going to. The helpful girl came up with a solution. We buy one ferry ticket and she would tell the ferry to wait for us and she would put us in a cab and tell the cab driver to take us to an ATM then to the boat dock. So off we raced again. The taxi driver was way too slow and we could see the time ticking on. Eventually we got the money out and arrived at the dock to buy the second ticket right on 11.00am. Phew! - once again we had made it!

We arrived to the grey skies and rain that had been dogging us for our whole time in Brazil but on the second day the true beauty of Ilha Grande showed itself to us, as the sun came out and the water turned from grey to vivid blue. We set off to do a strenuous three and a half hour hike over the mountains, to another part of the island and then caught a boat back to the settlement.

Dinner was traditional Brazilian foods with other hostel guests.

Our hostel, "Studio Green Hostel" run by Jorge is homely and so very friendly. We are like guests in his home with free Internet, fabulous breakfasts and home cooked evening meals. Their help when needed was amazing. Avan had had a lump cut out of his leg before we left Australia and it was time to get the stitches out. We had looked around the town and not seen a medical centre so we asked at our hostel. English was very limited but this was overcome by using "google translator" on the computer. We type "We need  a nurse to take stitches out" and hit the translate button. The lad in reception reads this and then types in Portuguese "do you want to go now?" and hits translate. The result was he led us to the medical centre and explained for us and got an appointment for later in the day. It is interesting to note that no-one spoke English at all. The nurse took the stitches out and kept asking Avan and I questions but of course we could not understand. I presume she was saying "how long have the stitches been in" and "why was it cut" but we had no idea. We were not charged - I guess that was going to be too hard! 

We went on another hike on our last day to the ruins of Lazareto, which was a quarantine station for European immigrants in 1800’s aimed to stamp out cholera. Later it was used as a penal colony. 

Ilha Grande has been a perfect place to enjoy a slice of holiday Brazil and we move on tomorrow (back to Rio for one night) thinking a few more days would have been wonderful.
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Belinda Poh on

Wow! Amazing as always! Enjoy! x

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