Island Escape

Trip Start Sep 07, 2010
Trip End Aug 13, 2011

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Where I stayed
A pousada near the waterfall

Flag of Brazil  , State of Bahia,
Sunday, January 2, 2011

The earliest I could get to Rio was the 5th, this is when accommodation prices fall from ridiculously inflated to more suitable levels of inflated after the cash grab of New Years Eve, I had a couple days worth of time to kill, but I was quickly getting tired of Salvador.   A couple of the Argentinians were heading to an Island I hadn't heard about yet, about two hours south of Salvador by boat. Usually, were islands are concerned, you can't really go wrong.  This sounded like the perfect opportunity to waste two days.  I got everything packed, checked out, ate breakfast and waited for the Argentinians to get their shit sorted out.   I reconfirmed the plans to make sure everyone was entirely clear on going to Morro de Sao Paulo, and I was assured that yes, as soon as everyone is packed we would be heading down to the port.  So I sat around, until about 1:30pm and I again, thought it may be wise to ask what was going on.  'Oh, no we're going to Natal later this afternoon, we decided not to go to Morro, we're going to Natal instead now, everyone who is going has already left.'  Brilliant.  I'd been waiting all friggin morning for nothing and now I was about to miss the last boat to the island.  I grabbed my bags and hiked it up the hill, over the sleeping bums, down the elevator (which fortunately for me wasn't very busy, asked a cop where the boats to Morro are, bought a ticket and was escorted onto a catamaran as I was the last passenger on.  I dumped my bags and sat.  Sweating like a fat kid near a bowl of smarties.

A guy next to me sparked up a conversation, he looked like a foreigner but he was from Rio on holidays with his girlfriend, he said they come to Morro every year.  The views of Salvador from the water were fantastic as you can see by the photos.  The trip took about two hours and the sea was rough with around 2m swells by the look of it.

Upon arriving at Morro de Sao Paulo (MSP) you must pay an entrance fee, I can't remember how much it was, a couple of reais.  The money apparently goes towards keeping the beaches clean, so I didn't really mind that much.  There are tourist guides in red t-shirts that say 'tourist guide' on it, I wasn't really on my game when one approached me, whereas normally I've got a good eye for approaching annoyances and stop them in their tracks with a wave of the finger before they get within 5m of me.  I was tired and had little energy to fight him off so I disinterestedly walked up the hill toward the town while he followed hoping he'd get my message.  He didn't.  He then made it his sole purpose for the next 45mins to find me accommodation.  He suggested a few places and I asked how much they cost, all too expensive, I told him I wanted something cheaper... Generally putting up a few specific parameters is enough to make these people go away.  Other times they will just keep trying to sell you whatever they have on offer, even when it doesn't meet your requirements.  It's usually quite laughable especially when it comes to clothes, sunglasses or watches.  If they aren't stocking it, you can't possibly want it.  If you want it in blue, and they don't have blue, they will just keep suggesting other colours in the hope that you will just accept that you can't get blue in their shop.

Anyway, so this guy had a think for a moment and said he knew a couple of hostels.  We went to the Che Lagarto and another place, both wanted a minimum of 4 nights at an inflated price.  I just remembered, everyone is still in NYE mode.  This means things just got more difficult.  We asked around at a few different pousadas and most had the same story.  They either wanted minimum nights or were asking a ridiculous amount of money.  We eventually came across one, run by a nice elderly couple, they showed me the room and suggested $R70 a night, I said $R100 for two nights and they agreed.  Yep, massive bargain all things considered.  They place was well worth their asking price but I am a cheapskate.  It had a nice big double bed, private ensuite, bar fridge, and aircon.

I came back out to farewell the tourist guide knowing full well that I'd have to pay up for his time, so I quickly shook his hand and said good-bye, he quickly came after me and tapped me on the shoulder, I knew I hadn't got out of that so easily.  'Yeah?', I turned around trying to be oblivious to the blatantly obvious.  He awkwardly beat around the bush, I like to make people work for a tip, but he eventually got to the point.  I threw him a $R5, I think he wanted more but too bad.  I should have salsa picanted his ass.

It was pretty late by the time I got to my pousada but I wanted to check out the main beaches which, my hotel was no where near.  I walked down through the town full of quite good looking restaurants that I was taking mental note of for later on and the next day for breakfast.  There are about 5 beaches on the main part of the island, aptly names 'Praia 1 through 5'.  The most popular of them is Praia 2 which is where all the seafood restaurants, bars and all are.  I could go on about the turquoise water, the white sand but you get the picture.  It was nice.  I walked around to 3 and who should I bump into but the group of Argentinians who weren't headed to Natal, including the girl I met the first night I was there.  I was only semi happy to have run into them, I was starting to enjoy my alone time, but I thought I'd hang out with them for at least a little while to see if I changed my mind about them...I didn't.  I spent a few hours with them and their constant 'exclusiveness' really got on my nerves and I decided I wasn't interested in tolerating it anymore.  I just found that

and I was quite hungry so I went out for a burger (actually I can't remember what I ended up eating but when it comes to South America and street food there is very little to choose from, it's either hamburger, empanada, meat on a stick or pizza, so it was one of them).

So I was standing waiting for my whatever it was to be cooked up when a couple of Brazilian girls came up and ordered, they introduced themselves and we decided to go grab a drink on the beach. 

Praia #2 boasts a tonne of drink stalls with masses of tropical fruit on display.  The drill is, you order whatever drink you want, and they mix it all up from their mini fruit stall right in front of you.  We got pretty wasted.

I agreed to meet the girls on the beach the next day as they have chairs and umbrellas reserved with some guy they know, but I was keen to go for a walk to check out the more secluded beaches further around.  I brought my snorkel with me just in case as there is an island that you can take a canoe to just 500m off the shore.  I checked it out but it looked crappy and overcroweded so I decided against it and went back to Praia #2 to find the girls.  It took me a good hour to find them, but this wasn't such a bad thing after all, searching for Brazilian girls at the beach that is...

In the end I found them next to the couple I'd met the day before on the boat which was cool, so we all just hung out all day and were waited on by one of the restaurants. For lunch we had a crab meat salad, spectacular.

There was a big beach party going on that night but the pre-drinks were going on at a bar/restaurant up on a hill near the port area so we headed there first and met up with a group of Italian guys who invited us over to share a hookah pipe and watch the sunset.  The bar is set outdoors on a tranquil setting overlooking the ocean and the mainland.  There was a DJ there playing some chill house tracks so I was in my element for most of the evening til a band took over and killed it for me.  But we stuck around as the Italians insisted on topping up our drinks for us.

A while later we all headed down to the beach to check out the party.  As if there weren't enough cocktail stalls already, more had been set up and had formed a large rectangular area where I assume once the music kicks off, dancing will ensue.  Almost the entire islands population descended on the patch of sand to samba the night away.  Most of them being Argentinians, in fact I saw very few other foreigners from outside South America, and zero Australians there the whole time.  The night was fun and very 'islandish', if you who what I mean. 

The feel there is nothing like Salvador at all, everyone seems to be there for the same reason, to get a break from the City, no one hassles you on the street, there is no crime, just people having fun and relaxing.  I left early the next day as I was feeling refreshed and unwound.  I bought my ticket at one of the agencies in the centro for 12pm and realised that it was 11:45, so I rushed down to the dock, starving but without having had any breakfast yet.  Midday came and went, as did 1pm, and finally at 1:20pm the boat showed up and I was not feeling so relaxed anymore, still starving, baking in the hot sun, sipping on 35C water.

The sea was even more rough this time, 8 people got seasick I counted, and strangely I felt fine.

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