A few days into my stay in Rio I got 3 new roommates. The Dutchies! They told me about Ihla Grande (the Big Island) they were headed to. I had originally planned to go from Rio to Foz do Iguacu but they made the island sound so pretty that I decided to got for it! It was a two hour car ride and two hour (incredibly rocky) boat ride to the island. As we were pulling up to the island I realized how much the area reminded me the of the Virgin Island – just beautiful. The town was tiny. Three streets, no cars and lots of little restaurants. Even somewhere tiny I can manage to get lost. I may have looked confused for 30 seconds before an older man on a bicycle rode up to me and asked me where I was going. He rode next to me and to be sure I was settled in right. He spoke about 2 sentence of English and smiled the entire time. My kind of welcome!
I stayed at Biergarten Hostel. It being the low season I think everyone is just really happy to see tourists. The hostel worker was again, super pleasant and greeted me with “HELLO SARAH! You are Sarah, no?” Adorable. He showed me to my room and then the hand shaking and the round of name exchanges/where ya froms began. I knew immediately this was going to be a fun bunch. 4 Irish (2 guys, 2 girls) and 1 Australian guy. The boys names were easy, Luke and Paddy. The girls not as easy, Sinead (first 10 times I had to think of Sinead O’Connor to remember) and the real tricky one – Finnguala. I finally had that one down the day before leaving. The Aussie was Michael but that too sounds nothing like we would pronounce it in the States. We all spoke the same language or at least pretended to. I swear half the time I had no idea what they were saying. The Irish were particularly hard to understand. I later realized that they spoke in a hybrid English-Irish combination – no wonder I couldn’t follow! It can not to go without mentioning the mouths on these people! One of my favorite new insults (that I can actually write on this because there are many, many more I will avoid) is “I’ll shave your mother’s head!” Just imagine that in a very strong Irish accent. It’s so good. So very good. The first time I heard it I had to confirm and then laughed for a solid 5 minutes. That and “I’ll cut your throat.” For example… Hand me a beer, hand me one right now, hand me a beer or I’ll cutyathroat, I will! Finnguala had many drinks at one point and felt it was important to tell she had never actually cut anyone’s throat. Ha! Thanks for the clarification.
My first night I walked along the main street and got some fish for dinner. I wanted it to be delicious. It wasn’t. I can’t say I have had many/any particularly great meals in Brazil. I’m sure that’s in part because when I do eat out I try to do so cheaply but still.. I am a bit disappointed in the food. So, eh dinner and I come home to find music blaring and an empty 12 pack scattered around our room. Time for drinks! We ended up hanging out for a bit and later going to a party at another hostel. The party turned out to be quite lame so we didn’t stay long.
Day 2 of island life had us on another boat. We got up, stole some extra hostel bread and cheese to make into later lunch and headed out. This time it was about a 1 hour boat ride. Sinead was hung over and turning greener by the minute. I wasn’t sure she was going to make it but after crawling into a ball she toughed it out. After the boat ride we had a 30 minute hike to Lopes Mendez beach. It was absolutely worth the boat ride (which I kinda liked anyway) and the hike. It was huge, beautiful water – cool but not cold, wavy but calm enough to swim in and nearly empty. Such a nice break after a week of go-go-go in Rio. We stayed at the beach for about 4 hours and then hiked back to catch the last boat home. When we got back I met a nice Danish couple and together we all looked at guidebooks/maps and did some planning for our next stops.
Day 3 I decided to go on a half island boat tour. The Irish were too hungover to go but I was good with some solo time. I thought there would be lots of solo people but I think I was the only one. I got adopted by a cute little family – they were always checking in to make sure I was ok. They only spoke Portuguese and I did not speak any but we made it work! On the tour we snorkeled at Lago Azul. It was very pretty, I saw lots of fish and some coral. Maybe not the best snorkel ever but certainly a beautiful place to spend a few hours. After that we beach hopped for a bit and by the time we made it back I was beat! Arrive back at the Biergarten to learn the whole island is without power. Considering that is gets dark at about 6pm that made for an interesting night. We ended up all sitting around the table playing drinking games until the tiny little security guard came over and told us were too loud and had to go. Surprise, surprise the party continued in our room. No hopes of going to bed it was a if you can’t beat them, join them kind of situation. So more drinks and more games by flashlight (which everyone decided was a stupid name and that I needed to call it by the proper name, torch). It basically turned into boozy summer camp. We ran out of beer and coke for the rum & cokes so it was time to shove off for the generator power bar. I only lasted for about 2 drinks before I nearly fell asleep on the table and decided it was time to go home.
My final day was a bit wasted. There was no ATM on the island and I had brought enough cash for my stay but not enough to pay for a transfer back. I was suppose to pay with a card. No power means no internet means no credit cards. Ek! Another day at the island? I asked around and realized while I didn’t have enough cash for the nice tourist transfer I could afford the local transfer. City bus it is! The only problem was I had missed the morning transfer and would have to wait until 4:30. I had already checked out and while I’m sure I could have gone back I didn’t. That second/third round of good-byes just gets awkward for everyone. I sat in a bar. Then I sat by the dock. The boat finally came and then I successfully (although a bit nervously) navigated the bus route to the right city. Once I arrive in Paraty I wandered a bit aimlesly but found a tourist booth and booked a hostel. I really wasn’t sure about it when I arrived but I ended up liking the next place just as much and maybe even slightly more!