Day 90: Living On An Island

Sun. 11th November 2012

Typical coastline hereIt is starting to sink in that we are getting close to the end of our trip with G Adventures as we drive up the coast from Paraty to Ihla Grande (Big Island), the penultimate stop on our trip. As we started out, a 45 day trip seemed an enormous time but the days have gone so quickly and we have got to know each other so well – and got on so well, it will be strange when it ends and we are on our own again.

At the beachAs we suspected the other day (at the end of our marathon bus journey) it is a pretty coastline. The steep sided, tree covered, hills roll down to the sea and then out into the sea as the coast is dotted with islands big and small. The horizontal coastline mirrors the vertical – no straight lines here – and the road has to weave its way around bays and over headlands. We gaze out of the window of the minibus watching the landscape pass, brain mostly switched off.

Angra dos Reis - A little fishing portFortunately, we only had a couple of hours in the bus before we arrived in Angra dos Reis for the short boat trip out to Abraão, the only town (village?) on Ihla Grande. On the trip across, and then even more so as we arrive and walk through the narrow streets of Abraão to our hotel, is that this is like a smaller version of Isla Mujeres (back in Day 34 – gosh, that seems a long time ago). It is not just that we had a catamaran for the transfer, but the whole feel of the town with the street facing the beach lined with a mix of restaurants, dive shops and t-shirt and tat shops. Everything, though, is on a much smaller scale – smaller catamaran, fewer people, fewer shops.

Accommodation in little wooden chaletsOur poussada (guest house) turns out to be a set of wooden cabins sprawling in gardens on the outskirts of town. Definitely pretty enough and comfortable enough for the couple of days we will be here. After dumping the bags in our cabin, it is time to explore the town and the island – and as a first priority, grab some lunch. We stop off at a ‘kilo restaurant’ – essentially a buffet where, after you have loaded your plate, you plonk it on a set of scales and then pay by the weight of food on the plate. Quite a good idea all in all – service is quick and you only pay for what you want.

Aquaduct - still in use todayThe island is well provided with beaches and with walking trails that connect them and so, feeling refreshed after lunch, we head out on one of the shorter trails to see what we can see. Our walk takes us out of town along the coast to Praia Preta (Black Beach – so called for the colour of, some of, the sand) and then inland and back along past an aquaduct, a rock pool, and some look out points. Only 2 or 3km of pretty easy walking but it was good to be out and stretching our legs. I certainly felt like I deserved an ice-cream and so we stopped at a sorveteria on our way back from town – this time, it was ice cream bought by weight. I restrained myself by sticking to a small bowl.

Even the church is illuminated at nightWhilst the ice cream was definitely a good idea, stopping at the supermarket to buy some of the local firewater at R$3 (£1) for a 50cl plastic bottle was perhaps a less good wheeze. The clues were in the price and the container. Still, lying in the hammock on our veranda with Kindle in one hand and coke & firewater cocktail in the other made for a very relaxing end to the afternoon.

Restaurant on the beach - always a good idea!In the evening, our group meal was at a beachside restaurant on a long table running down to the sand, with the sea noises in the background, illuminated parasols and lights wrapped around the palm-trees and a musicians playing guitar and bass. Excellent surroundings for one of our last meals together – and all the better when the musicians did a very passable version of Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here’. Later in the evening, the musical theme continued as further along the beach there was a small group playing Bob Marley songs – wrong hemisphere, but right ocean, right ambience and nicely played on a single acoustic guitar and 4 guys on percussion. Definitely a chilled out end to the day.

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