Greetings from Ilha Grande
, Rio´s tranquil weekend escape. That would be purely acurate if we weren´t part of the post-Carnaval herd, which we happily are. At the bus station, we abruptly crossed from North American tourist world into the alterhemispheric backpacker world, which should in theory make life infinitely cheaper and more social. Indeed, the 6 hour bus and ferry commute was a mere $20 (as I ween myself off the momentary luxury of spent hotel points, we get used to life without AirCon). And indeed we managed to converge with 2 packs of willing acquaintances, resulting in a lovely day of lounging, surfing, drinking, sharing stories and attempting to fish at a pristine beach.
no, it's not cute. it's a dump
Yet I cant help but see the contrast in just how much can be squeezed from the thrifty backpacker in such a place when the ´Carnaval effect´ sets in. Now sure, the price of fancy hotels in Rio triples during the main parade days (to $700 in a city where a Caipirihna costs $1.50). But this is 150KM away from Rio. Yet, for $100, we trip over our bed, debate about the risk of mosquitos coming in the window as we sweat through the night, and realize that the view from the toilet recalls images of many a fine Ryanair flight. I´m used to rearranging my legs on conveyances.... but not in this situation. So, as you might expect, we spend as little time in the room as possible and hit the beach, for 2 days of said activities and some snorkeling.
Abraao Village Dock. Home of boats that make unscheduled stops
There are no roads on Ilha grande, so boat transfers or exhorbanent speedboat trips (for a McTour around the island) are the only choices. We opt for the snorkeling over the prison ruins (curiously, the pirates´ layer -- leper colony -- prison heritage of this place has kept development out), and are mildly pleased by the mix of fish, coral, crabs and trash to swim amongst. I guess the idea of a place like this is to not be demanding...to zone out and switch off... to be perfectly happy doin nothing... which in turn gives one far too much time to think.... (in fact this is exactly what I whined about needing when I contemplated the trip). But in any case, through the half-zombied half-blissful days of simplicity we roll, agreeing that ´this is beautiful, but it´s no Thailand.
spiritual cleansing phase 1 complete... sandals sans playa dust
´ We are all total snobs.
In other news, my favorite sandals, pressed into service for some inordinate numer of years, have finally shed their Playa dust!!! (Burning Man reference, folks). I spent hours digging through the junk pile at the end of the hall in Munich to find these, and no less than three attempts at washing them in Munich, but to no avail. The grey substance (purported by hippies to be prehistoric fish remains), seemingly impervious to all others, remained through these trials, Carnval, and various other stress tests. Yet, they were no match for the microbes of Ilha Grande water. I have no idea what did it (probably the same powerful microbes that made me sick in Rio), but they´re a lovely faded brown (see figure 1.)... and that makes me happy since I´m usually at a loss to find anything similar or as durable, and loath to pay for anything unecessarily in this unemployed state.
***Addendum: photo album here: http://picasaweb.google.com/matt.schumpert/09_02_Ilha_Grande#
After that tremendously useful report that will clearly end up in a Lonely Planet someday, you must be yearning for more. If you can hold on for another day, photos to be posted soon, as well as the dispatch from Foz de Iguazu, the next destination in Project Vacation (the prelude to Project Bum, which commences when Deb leaves). Things are a little bit rushed, but that was to be expected, and we are quite enjoying life. Looking forward to slowing down and thrashing randomly about in Argentina, as the planned program comes to an end and I ¨fall off the cliff¨ as brother Craig put it.
Tshacu and hasta Argentina!