After a fairly restful night on the coach, we arrive at a little port town on Brazil's coast, and board our ferry boat for the hour and a half passage to the island Ilha Grande (Big Island).
Isla Grande was a penitentiary until 1995- not a bad place to be incarcerated! It has only recently been developed as a tourist destination. There are no cars or other motorized vehicles allowed on the island- there are no roads anyway! Only small dirt laneways meander through the port town of Abraao; when we arrive, someone from our hotel arrives with a handcart to transport our bags the few blocks away. Tourism is the main industry here, and as we disembark we are bombarded by people thrusting brochures at us, asking 'pousada? pousada?'(hotel).
We follow our handcart fellow to our little pousada, where we are staying in small A-frame bungalows with hammocks on the porches....bunk beds and a double for Carly, Shari and I. Unfortunately, it is raining as we arrive, so what else is there to do but find a cosy patio and have a few caipirinhas! A lazy, relaxing and slightly inebriated afternoon and evening before heading back to our pousada.
A nice little sleep-in before bkfst of fresh fruits and bread, then we head down to the docks to catch a boat that will take us around the island to Pria Lopes Mendes, one of the nicest beaches on the island. The weather is cooperating today- the sun is out and it's already warm.
After about an hour's boat ride, we hop off and walk for 20 min over a hill to the windward side of the island, where Lopes Mendes beach stretches out for several km. The beach is quite wide also, with white sand that sqeaks when you walk on it; small sand crabs scurry here and there. There is enough wave action just offshore that amateur surfers practice here, and you can rent boogie boards if so inclined. The water is warm once you're in, and we get our minimal exercise for the day, body surfing and jumping waves.
At 1630 we catch the last boat back to Abraao, sun-drowsy and slightly burned. After a nice cool shower we head out to Banana Blu for an awesome dinner, looking out over the harbour as the sun sets. A bit of window shopping and a stop for a nightcap on the way home, then we call it a night.
Today we are getting together with another GAP group for a boat cruise to Laguna Verde and Laguna Azul, both great spots for snorkeling and swimming. We pick up our snorkel gear on the way to the boat, then head down to the 50ft cruiser that will take the approx. 50 of us on our trip.
We spend the day snorkeling and relaxing, with good tunes playing and the caipirinhas and beer flowing...there was a BBQ lunch on board also. Managed to see a small sea turtle as well as several species of fish and starfish while snorkeling; the water here is only about 20ft deep and fairly clear.
We were returned to Abraao at sunset, and after a (caipirinha-induced) nap, we had our last dinner on the island....hard to believe, but tomorrow we leave for Rio- our trip almost over.