Published: September 1st 2007August 19th 2007
So there it was, another mission to get to this beautiful, ex-penal colony island. 5 hours from Sao Paulo, overnight in a place called Ubatuba, then a mission to get to Angra dos Reis because there is only 2 buses, one at 10 am another at 11 pm. We had to cut our losses and just take a hideously expensive taxi, but I calculated that we only lost out on £35 (a beautiful hand-made pair of Sibyl Vane shoes from Buenos Aires, groan!).
Ilha Grande is a slice of heaven. Because it was low season, there was ample lodging, at cheap prices. I also almost always try and barter the price down, to which Carlos, the owner of our hostel, responded, ‘Are you Israeli?’ It wasn’t the first time someone had asked me that, and I take it as a compliment…nothing wrong with trying your luck as long as it’s done in a playful and not aggressive manner.
Because this island was at one time inhabited by the country’s most ruthless & dangerous criminals, it has been largely underdeveloped. This place was a highlight for me and I wish we could have stayed longer. With its clean tropical beaches,
lush vegetation and rugged landscape, it is paradise. The fish is delicious here and the little forest trails you can do, unaccompanied by guides (yay!) are so refreshing. We didn’r have time to see the ship wreck or do some famed diving/snorkelling, which I will definitely do when I go back one day. The pictures under the water look amazing.
I did however nearly lose my life in this tropical haven. For some strange reason, whilst swimming in the ocean off Lopez Mendes beach I decided to swim towards the rocks. Before I could even blink, my feet suddenly were not touching the ground. To make matters worse, the waves were still pouring over me thick and strong and another current was swooshing in from the other side. The water was engulfing me and I flapped, but just wasn’t getting anywhere. I was also beginning to swallow a lot of sea water. ‘SAAAAAANNNNJ’!!!’ I screamed, but he was at least 20 m away. He waved at me - he couldn’t have imagined that I was losing my feet, flapping away helplessly trying not to be beaten by the waves. When he eventually gauged that I was in trouble he
cute Brazilians playing on the beach
quickly swam over, kicking me and pushing me forward away from the currents. Then he just started swimming for his life, like some Olympic swimmer. I thought it was to push me into swimming like a maniac too, but later found out that it was because he thought he was also drowning and had to get the hell out of the danger zone. It worked, sheer adrenaline got me through. Reaching the sand, alive and breathing was a relief to say the least. Only then did two life guards begin to run into the water. A quick thumbs up, a nod of the head, and I just wanted to collapse onto the near white sandy beach and contemplate life. Death by drowning was not the way I had envisioned I would go.
There are more photos below