Good evening from the paradise beach island of Ilha Grande, which is just down the coast from the world famous Rio de Janeiro (about 3 hours by bus and ferry). The island is about 6 or 7 miles off the coast, and is relatively undeveloped. There is just the one town, Abraao, which is home to just 3,000 permenant residents, and the rest of the island, which is 120 miles square, is home to lush rainforest and rocky outcrops stretching up to 1,021m (3,349ft). There are no cars on the island so everything is transported via trolley type things which are pulled by super healthy Brazilian men. They were kind enough to take all our luggage from the dock to our cabin accommodation, which was about half a mile slightly uphill.
We arrived 2 days ago after a 2 hour local bus journey along the green coastline to the port town of Angra dos Reis, where we had a short wait for a private sail boat which took us and some other tourists over to the island in 1.5 hours. Having had very little sleep the night before due to a noisy group staying in our hotel, I abscent mindedly left my alarm watch in Paraty. It was only a cheap Casio thing (less than £10 in the argos catalogue) and I had seen it in shops across South America, so figured I could pick the same one up cheap somewhere. However, I had a massive shock to find that in a cheap shop in the shoddy port town of Angra dos Reis, the very same watch was a staggering £45! Brazil really is crazy prices! I had also hoped to get another football shirt of a local team, but they were also a mind blowing £65, so I think I´ll have to leave it.
Our first full day on the island was pretty much a washout, with heavy rain falling nearly all day. We still decided to head out for a walk to a nearby black sand beach, and from there headed up into the forest a short distance to view the remains of an old aqueduct. After having ice cream for lunch I spent a short time browsing the shops of Abraao, but they were all hippy shops which only sold things for Buddhists and girls, so I left empty handed.
Today was a slight improvement on the weather front. It was not raining, but was still pretty cloudy, albeit bright. The girls were desperate to visit the island´s most famous beach - Lopes Mendes (see pic above) - and caught a morning boat around the island which dropped them a short walk over the hill from the famed beach. However, me, John and Gareth opted to be hardcore and walk there over a notoriously difficult and muddy footpath, which went high over the hills, via a few other beaches to the same beach where the boats drop off the lazy tourists. We walked at a hell of a pace and in the humidity of the rainforest I don´t think I´ve ever sweated so much in my life. Descending from the hills was fun and it involved a lot of controlled sliding and jumping from slippery rock to slippery tree branch. I can´t believe none of us fell over! Impressively we did the whole route in just 1.5 hours (it said it would take 3) and we arrived just 10 minutes after the girls. The beach itself was very beautiful even with the cloudy skies. The sand was very white and the sea very clear, with huge waves perfect for surfers. There was no development on the beach either and no boats in view, so you felt isolated even though there were about 100 tourists there. I spent most of my time there swimming in the warm Atlantic Ocean and getting splashed by the large waves (I cannot sit still and sunbathe!) and I had a lot of fun. Still, I was glad when 3.30 came around and it was time to hitch the boat back round to Abraao. We shared the boat with a strange looking rastafarian who was looking after an injured penguin he had found. It was about the only wildlife we´ve seen here disappointing. The island is famed for its bio-diversity and abundance of animals such as monkeys and turtles, but thus far such creatures have eluded us. Must be the weather - I hope its better for Rio de Janeiro, which is where I´ll be this time tomorrow! Anyway its 9.20pm here (11.20pm UK time - we are just 2 hours behind the UK now that both countries have adjusted their clocks), and this place is closing imminently, so goodnight.