Located about 4 hours west of Rio (by bus and by boat), Ilha Grande is — as its name suggests — a big island. And a beautiful one, too. Apart from untouched tropical rainforests, gorgeous beaches, and fish-filled bays perfect for diving and snorkelling, Ilha Grande is also home to several charming little villages, and numerous places for cheap and classy tourists alike to sleep and to enjoy themselves. Once I realised that I just wasn't in the mood for the enormity and the madness of Rio, I ducked over here for a super-relaxing final few days in South America.
These two girls — Ashley from Nevada, USA; and Megan from Ottawa, Canada — have both been staying here at Aquario with me all week. They're both blonde, beautiful, brash, talkative, and fresh from Oktoberfest, which they just celebrated in its true home — Southern Germany. Now that they're down here in Brazil, they're still living that Oktober spirit, by continuing to drink copious quantities of whatever beer they can get their hands on, and by continuing to rant and sing gregariously whenever the moment takes their fancy. Awesome free spirits — the girls, that is, not their beverages :P.
Seeing that yesterday evening, I discovered my foot was painfully injured — and that this morning it wasn't feeling much better — today I decided to just take it easy, and to relax on the beach in Abraão, with a book and a sandy towel. I didn't have much choice, really: I could barely walk! So it was a bit of gentle wandering today, and a bit of eating; but mostly, just sitting on the sand and reading. Nice weather today — those clouds have all but cleared up — so I had plenty of sun to keep me company. Well, it was nice to unwind and to take it easy anyhow — but hopefully the 'ol foot will heal up soon, so that I can be back in action for the end of my time here in Brazil.
There are many countries in South America where you can find great, fresh, delicious tropical fruit juices — from fruits such as papaya, mango, guava, passionfruit, and various berries. But only in Brazil can you find açaí. This delicious — and incredibly nutritious — fruit is found only in tropical Brazil, and it's used to make some of the most extraordinary juices and smoothies known to man. I had some açaí for breakfast this morning, and by G-d, the stuff was simply out of this world. If you're in Brazil any time soon, don't go home until you've tried some of it — and once you've tried it, you won't want to go home at all.
When we returned from our Dos Rios hike this evening, the Italian guys invited us back to their guesthouse, for some drinks and a barbeque. Well, as with today's hike, the get-together turned out to be as late as it was chaotic: but in the end, it happened, and it was a great night out. All six of us from the hike showed up, as well as my mate Tom, and Larissa (who was feeling better by the evening), and a few other random friends of the group.
I made acquaintance with these two boys, on today's hike to Dos Rios. Both of them are from Italy, and they're old friends: however, one is just in Brazil for a short holiday; and the other one is currently living in São Paulo. When we finished the hike, they invited the lot of us back to their cosy little guesthouse, for a barbeque and some drinks. Great lads: warm to all around them, and always ready to have a good time.
Sophie's a lovely girl from a tiny town near rural Cheltenham, in England. I met her today on the hike to Dos Rios, here on Ilha Grande. She's a very good-looking girl, but is unfortunately taken (don't you just hate it when that happens?) — her boyfriend, apparently, is currently travelling in Australia. Sophie has the ambitious aim of covering both South and Central America within the next 4 months: I say to her, good luck.
My mate Yuri was keen to do another hike today — this time to the bay of Dos Rios, about 2 hours' walk from the main Ilha Grande town of Abraão. Unlike the last hike that he organised, however, this one wasn't quite so crazy, as we were doing it during the day. Our group for today was six: Yuri; Kerry (Larissa couldn't make it — still not feeling well); Sophie; two Italian guys; and myself. It was a bit of a slow start getting out the door this morning; but once we finally set off, we had a good 'ol walk there and back — plus, we got to see an abandoned prison.
After dinner at the Aquario barbeque tonight — when we followed dinner with more than a few drinks — we were joined by a pair of absolutely plastered, absolutely insane Irish chicks. Can't remember their names (perhaps they couldn't, either!), but they were one of the funniest pair of people I've met on this whole trip: they were cracking us up for hours on end! Between extensive slurps of beer, these girls were recounting to us the joys of Ireland, the benefits of not giving a f$#% about anything much, and their love of the chicken dance. Insert raised eyebrow here.
I told myself that after Argentina, I was done with massive all-you-can-eat barbeque dinners. Well, so much for that — tonight's sizzling grill at Aquario was simply too good to resist. Juicy cuts of steak, phat chorizo sausages, and blackened local fish was just the beginning — we also had a line-up of every accompaniment you could ever ask for, and more. My final bottle of Argentinean Malbec red wine went down great with the BA girls. And the free caipirinha went down great with me.
These three lovely ladies, from the fine city of Buenos Aires in Argentina, came on the boat tour around Ilha Grande with me today. "Las Tres Argentinas" (lit: "The Three Argentinean Girls") are a bit older than me — in their early 30s, and one of them is a married mum — but they're still looking great, and still able to jump in there with the best of 'em. Literally. They came over to Brazil for a short holiday from their busy lives back in BA, and a short but sweet holiday is exactly what they're getting.