My own little island paradise

Trip Start Mar 30, 2010
Trip End Dec 13, 2012

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Where I stayed
Aquario hostel

Flag of Brazil  , State of Rio de Janeiro,
Saturday, May 15, 2010

Illha Grande..... One of my favorite places so far on this trip.  Filled with secluded beaches,  1 quiet small town, tons of hiking, I only wish I had more time there.  The island it self is 2.5 hours away from Rio, and has quite an interesting history.  Back in the day, when Parati was the second main port in Brazil, it was a pirate liar where they could hide and attack ships leaving Brazil bound for Portugual loaded with gold.  Several years later, it became a leprocy colony.  After that came to and end, it became the home of Brazil's worst criminals, a very large Alcatraz you could say.  Nowadays, it is a hot tourist destination.  Seems like a natural progression of an island if I have ever heard one.  Why or how the Brazilian government ever decided to turn this paradise into a prison I will never know.   Thankfully that all came to an end in the 70.
      I first set foot on the island at 9 am, with no idea of where I was staying or what I was going to do when I go there.  I figured I would walk around to check the town of Abrao out before deciding on where exactly to stay.  It was too early to check in yet anyway.  Roaming around, there were plenty of hostels to choose from, but none of them were catching my eye.  Just like ol faithful, I pulled out Lonely planet to see what they offered as a suggestion.  I found a youthful hostel, Aquario located at the end of the main beach secluded away.  I checked in and drop my gear to head out and get some much needed hiking.  I was looking forward to burning calories from my Sao Paulo experience.  David, the young guy working the front desk told me that all the trails were marked on the island, so as long as 6 hours one way.  I tossed on my swim suit, grabbed the camera and set out to find me a nice beach somewhere. 
     The trail i chose, T10 was moderately demanding.  I snaked through the forest which was nice to stay under the canopy hidden from the sun.  Very few people were walking the trails, as there as water taxis that can take you to many of the prime beaches.  I felt that would have been cheating, so off I went.   At the highest point of the trail, you got an amazing view of the main bay, It was awsome! Blue water, boats anchored, it was a postcard moment.  Still i trekked on.  The first beach I encountered was an almost deserted 1 km stretch that was worthy of a laydown.  I soaked my feet in the water, staying out of the sun.  I was still in recovery mode from my monster Fortaleza burn.
    Since i didnt have a map, I ended up taking a picture of a trail sign, this way I always had something to refer to in my camera.  I made my way to what I thought was a loop trail.  It ended up being a dead end.  I walked to the end of a beach where I was hoping a trail would have been hiding in the trees, like on the other beaches, to no avail.  It was a dead ended trail, and I would have to make my back along the 2.5 hour trek it took me to get there.  At the end of the beach though, there was a group of girls sun bathing topless, and I looked somewhat like a pervert just roaming down there, especially with a camera in hand, but atleast that made getting lost all the worth it.  I made my way back to the hostel since I was dying of thirst hunger.  I had burnt myself out with all the hiking.
      That night I found a great restaurant, right on the front beach and had a great fish dinner with literally the waves coming right up to my table.  Amazing view, and even better food.  Sometimes I get a little overwhelmed with all that is happening.  It almost doesn't seem real.  I forget where I am and what I'm doing.  Sometimes I feel as though I am not doing enough activities, or learning enough about the places I am, and others I just don't care.  Seeing it is enough for me.   I could have spent the whole evening just listening to the water gently washing up on the shore. 
      In the morning, I had to bid farewell to this Island paradise, since I wanted to get back to Parati to make sure I would make my bus back to Sao Paulo.  I didn't want to leave at all.  It was t kind of place you could live.  My reccomendation, if you ever get a chance to go to Brazil, make Illha Grande a stop on your list.  It would be next to impossible to not appreciate it.
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