It took us two buses and a boat to get us from Rio to the island called Ilha Grande, an educated guess leads me to believe that this would be translated to big island in English. There was nothing really significant to tell you about our journey, we had nobody kicked off any mode of transport and neither were there any other incidents, infact the only exciting thing that I think happened was me completing solitaire a few times and listening to The Drums. By the time our excursions were over on public transport it was 6pm. It was the first time on our travels that we hadn't sorted a hostel out in advance, so our first job was to find a roof for over heads for the first night. Stumbling around the small town of Abroa we stumbled into a chap called Abel, he told of us of a hostel and claimed it would be 50 big Brazilian bucks for each of us, there must have been a bit of confusion as I asked if that would be for two nights and by the time we got to the hostel the guy was saying that it would be 50 for just one night. Thinking we could find cheaper elsewhere we carried on sauntering through town with our backpacks. We didn't have to saunter long as we stumbled on another chap, his name I cannot remember, he offered us his place - The Musicians Hostel for a mere 30 real a night. We were surprised at the place he took us in we had walked by it before and assumed it was just a house, there was no name on the door or anything to indicate it was a hostel and I'm sure you wouldn't be able to find this hostel on the likes of hostel world or hostel bookers. The hostel looked like a house because it was a house. There was no reception, no paperwork to fill out and we had to ask to pay. To describe the place to aesthically you would have to say the place was a bit of a dive, the first night was spent on a bed with a gaping hole above, this was not good for Mozzies or when the sun rose at 6am. The bed was also in line with 7 other beds, it was one massive bed theoretically. There could be any amount of random cuddles happen. Other beds included a tent in the front porch and what became known to us as the Harry Potter bed as it was hid under the stairs. One girl saw the place and pretty much ran straight back out. The hostel had numerous dogs which the guy had took in because they were abandoned by owners, one of which was blind so we appropriately nicknamed the dog Stevie after the musical legend Stevie Wonder. In these less than appealing on the eye hostels or accommodation what I have found is that the hosts are brilliant, out of this world helpful and great fun and this place was no different. The guy who showed us to the hostel was also the owner, it was pretty much his house he just had one room where he slept the rest he shared with his guests. He was massively into his music, hence the hostels name - The Musicians Hostel. Though I'm sure he may have changed the name of the hostel depending on who he was trying to get in. There were instruments scattered all over the hostel Bongos, Guitars, A Microphone, Triangle, Symbols and his prize position his Accordion. He was a bouncy character, full of enthusiasm, I doubt that he could or ever has got angry. He told us about a place in town we could get a 2.50 Brazilian real burger so we went and had one of them had a little explore around town and a beer by the beach. We then headed back to the hostel as it was a Brazilian guys Birthday called Marcelo. I thought it was quite odd that Marcelo was on his tod; I thought surely for your birthday you'd take some mates along with you, I know that would be the case in England. The birthday party was quite a drab affair with only Earl and me really drinking - we managed to finish off the last of our heap rum we had bought a month ago. There was an extremely awkward moment when we sang happy birthday to Marcelo but nobody knew his name at that point so when it got to the part in the song where you said his name there was awkward mumbling until returning to the song. I felt a bit sorry for the lad actually as we had got chatting to another English guy called Ben leaving him a bit of a social outcast, we did offer for him to ride the bus but he declined and ended up going to bed pretty early. The highlight of the night was when the owner of the hostel - let's just call him Steve for the ease of writing this blog, made a drink on a tray which he then set on fire, he proceeded to dip his hand in setting his hand on fire and then putting this in his mouth much like a fire breather would. He invited us each in turn to have a go. I was reluctant at first but then as the rum hit me I became much braver and dipped my hand in the flames setting it a light and putting the fire in my mouth. It wasn't too bad, the lames didn't burn, what did taste bad though was the liquid we drank after the fire was out. The taste was soon gone though as Steve cooked us up a couple of batches of fresh Shrimp.
The next day we woke up and after a tomato tuna pasta brunch decided to trek to the most popular beach on the island - Lopes Mendez. The trek was supposed to take three hours, though Ben had told us that it only really takes two and a friend we met called Jack had ran the route in around forty minutes. What they didn't tell us was about all the uphill trekking, it was quite tiring and the most physical exercise I had done in some time, though this to me only made Jack's forty minute run more impressive. Our trek took us past some other beaches Palmas and Pouso. I particularly liked the Pouso beach as it was really remote and had less than a handful of people on the stretch of sand. I was hoping the trek would be worth it and the beach would be breath taking, though from my previous experiences of people telling us of awesome beaches in Brazil my expectations were not high. After a gruelling two hour trek climbing up and down hills and encountering all sorts of different terrain we had finally made it and for once we weren't disappointed. It would actually make my top five beaches of all time, not that I have a list of my favourites. Let me think about it, in no particular order I would have definitely Whitehaven beach in Australia where the sand is pure white and the sea is clear as a window, St Kilda beach not because of the beach itself but more the memories made there, I'd also have to have the beach in the Dominican where Craig and Charley Garett got married, so that's three, my fourth would be the beach in Koh Phan Nang just for the mentalness which happens on it when the full moon party hits town. The Lopez Mendes beach would definitely join them, the sand was the best I've encountered in Brazil it felt like snow under your feet and was as soft as pillow feathers. The sea was cold but was clear. The views were picturesque with rocks one side you could scale, an island in the distance and a jungle behind and to the other side; it reminded me a bit of the beach on the TV programme Lost. I would have loved to have played football on the beach but two things prevented me doing this. The first was me being totally gazumped from the trek getting to the beach and the second was the sheer quality of the players, I kept watching the groups playing and doing keepy ups and they would go on for ages and with fancy flicks. So I decided to lap up the rays, eat my tangerine and enjoy paradise. Not fancying the vigorous walk back we decided to take the slow boat where we also got to see a majestic sunset over the island. We tried to have another 2.50 Burger but the lace was shut and we also tried to book onto a boat party we ad saw advertised the day before but this was fully booked. This left us at a loose end for the night, but when we got back to the hostel a party was in full swing. Steve was jamming away on his accordion with a drummer, and a guy on the triangle and some French guys and a Chilean were getting leery on Caipirinhas. The fire drinking tray thing was out again. A German coupled had also moved into the hostel, and the guy of the couple also played accordion so he was jamming along too along with a Spanish guitarist. It was quite the scene. So after a few games of s***head and some two minute noodles Earl, Ben and I joined in with the drinking and shenanigans. We herd whispers that there was meant to be a beach party at one of the hostels so we all congregated there, it was a pretty poor show and wasn't even on the beach so after a beer we retreated to the hostel where we found a French guy passed out eating hot dogs and cheese, naturally it was only right to eat some of his food so he thought he had ate it in the morning. The karma gods struck us though as the next day we discovered that the remainder of our loaf of bread had been eaten.
My calves were stiff the next day as I woke up; the trek from the previous day had definitely given me some exercise. So after a couple of cheap burgers and sending out some messages requesting places to stay couch surfing we decided to do the little walk on the edge of town. The walk was only 2km taking around 40-50minutes. Along the way we saw various look outs, natural pools, beaches and aqueduct and the ruins of an old prison. On the walk there were also signs for another trek to a waterfall. Now I'm no waterfall enthusiast but I do have a soft spot for the water feature so we decided to trek a further hour to see the water gushing down. Most of the walk again was uphill causing further aching pains to my lower back and calves, but it was worth it when we finally got there. It wasn't the best waterfall I have ever seen, it would take a lot to beat the one in Laos Luang Phrabang to get that award but jumping in the ice cold water and taking a shower under the falling water was really refreshing after the walk. Truth be told though I wouldn't have gone in if it wasn't for Earl offering me a Burger if I did so. The trek back flew by, mostly because it was downhill and along the way we saw some monkeys. The waterfall was definitely worth going too but if you were a keen hiker I'd have to recommend going to Parrot's rock, it is one of the most difficult trek's and takes three gruelling hours, I was too lazy to go but other people who had been from our hostel had said the views were nothing short of spectacular, especially if you went at 3am to catch the sunrise.
That night Steve's band were playing in the centre so after some dinner and saying farewell to Ben who was of back to Rio to catch a flight back to England we brave the rain and headed down to the small square in front of the church and watched him play away on his accordion. We didn't go to mental though as the rain worsened and forced his band off stage. It was probably for the best though as the next morning we needed to get a ferry off the island as we were hitting the road again and this time heading to Paratay. On our walk home though I did have the best food that I have maybe had in Brazil it was a roast beef sandwich with cheese and it tasted divine, maybe it was because it has been such a long time since I've had roast beef but it was spectacular.
So until next time stay safe and take care