Saturday, March 21, 2015

Brazil, Day 7: Ilha Grande (near Rio)

Saturday morning we woke up early, did some laundry and hung it to dry on Rodrigo and Lídia's patio, and then headed out to Ilha Grande. Unfortunately Lídia and Levi couldn't come. She had just barely started a new job only a block from her apartment and Levi likes to see his mom at night. Rodrigo was a great sport though and came anyways, and we did our best to not make him a third wheel!

Ilha Grande is an island about 2 hours south of Rio, and it's a popular tourist destination. Easily over half of the people we saw on the island were from Argentina, and there were a ton of Brazilians on vacation. There were a small handful of Americans there, but not many.

On the way down we got to experience the joys of Rio traffic. Not as bad as São Paulo traffic, but it took a long time to get through some of the tighter areas. Rio has lots of mountains so there aren't always multiple routes when getting between mountains.

Eventually we got to a little town called Conceição de Jacareí where Rodrigo had arranged for parking.

View Larger Map

We were just in time for a schooner, which took 45 minutes to get to Ilha Grande. The other option was to take a fast boat. The fast boat would've taken 15 minutes to get to the island, but wouldn't leave for 25 minutes. We decided to take the slower, cheaper boat that was leaving immediately. When we were pulling up to the dock in Ilha Grande the fast boat was just behind us.

Schooner Selfie!

Just a shot of the islands in the bay.

Rodrigo and I!

Caroline and I!

Ilha grande has some really nice beaches and some nice hiking trails. The main beach in Vila Do Abraãois pretty busy since that's where the town is, so we planned to go on a short hike to a near by beach, Praia das Palmas.

Once we arrived at Ilha Grande we checked into our Pousada, bought some hot-ham-and-cheese empanadas and water and struck out to find the trail.

Here's a nice boat with a nice Brazil paint job we saw on our way to find the trail head.  

The trail was only 6 km (3.7 miles) but it felt like it was straight up and down.

Caroline and I love hiking, but this trail felt pretty intense to us. Rodrigo seemed to hardly break a sweat. The trails were all clay, I can't imagine trying to hike it in the rain without cleats or something.

We had been hearing rustling in the forest as we were hiking and shortly after this bamboo stand Caroline said "There's a cat!". An instant later a cat-sized thing scurried out of the trees, crossed the trail and headed back into the trees on the other side.

I'm pretty sure it was a Tegu lizard, but I'm not a lizard expert so it could've been a something else.

After reaching what we though was the top several times we finally reached what was actually the top. Despite being out of breath, the views were beautiful.

The trail up wasn't terribly steep, and wound all over. The trail down was steep and almost like switchbacks. Finally at end of the trail there was this big rock we had to climb down, which someone had fastened a big fat rope to.

We staked out a spot on the beach, laid out our towels and went for a little swim.

Side note: Ever since I was a teenager I'd wear contacts when swimming, because my eyes are really bad. Contacts while swimming are a pain because if water gets in your eyes the contacts slide around and can fall out more easily. For this trip I bought a pair or prescription swim goggles. They. Were. Amazing. They weren't even that expensive, only like $35. I should've bought some a long time ago.

After cooling off and playing the waves we bought some coconut waters and ate some snacks.

Coconut selfie!

When we went to Florida in 2009 we bought 2 sets of snorkels. We've only used them one time since then, but we brought them with us on this trip. We only saw a handful of fish, all this 4-5 inch translucent blue fish, but bringing them was definitely worth it.

You see, Rodrigo had never used a snorkel in his life! He had a blast learning to use it, searching for fish and swimming around. Caroline also had a blast watching him. Every time he'd dunk the snorkle underwater and come up surprised Caroline would laugh and laugh and laugh.

Since Rodrigo enjoyed it so much and since we use them so infrequently we ended up leaving the snorkels with Rodrigo when we left.

While Rodrigo and I were snorkeling Caroline walked up and down the beach and took some more photos.

We spent most of the afternoon there and eventually decided to head back to the Pousada. We decided to take the water taxi from Praia das Palmas back to Vila do Abraão. It was a great choice. The water taxi was a speed boat and we got to see the beautiful coast and blue-green water around the edge of the island. The speed boat was terrific fun. Rodrigo managed to convince one slightly tipsy Brazilian lady on the boat that I was actually from Minas Gerais, then eventually revealed that I wasn't. The lady almost stood up in the boat and started shouting "I KNEW IT! I KNEW HE WAS A FOREIGNER!". She was pretty funny. Then she asked Caroline to pass her flip-flops up to the front of the boat. The flip flops were the only thing at the back of the boat and Caroline passed them up, then the lady started yelling "SHE UNDERSTOOD! SHE UNDERSTANDS!!!".

Back at the Pousada we cleaned up and then headed out to find dinner. We ended up at a pizzaria (did I mention that I love Brazilian pizza yet? It's really really true.). The three of us polished of all but one slice of 2 pizzas, and a 2 liter of Guarana soda.

After dinner we went to check out the stores in town. We found some post cards and Rodrigo found a little maraca for Levi. We also saw a nice big crab on the beach and chased it for a few minutes.

Eventually we decided to turn in and we all headed back to the Pousada.

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