Penguin Island, Antarctica 2008

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 27 - Ilha Grande, Brazil

Ilha Grande is 120 miles south of Rio de Janeiro. It is just 40 miles north of Parati, where we were yesterday. We sailed out into the Atlantic and made a big box to fill the time. According to information provided to us, the island boasts over 200 beaches. The island is in pristine condition due to its unusual history. First it was a pirates’ lair, then a leper colony and, finally, a prison for some of Brazil’s most violent and deranged criminals. All that remains of those days are some half buried stone foundations, but the island’s unsavory reputation kept developers at bay for a long time and Brazil made most of the island a national Park. Consequently, beautiful tropical beaches and virgin Atlantic rain forest abound and there are only a few settlements on the island .

The island appears to be very rugged and the hillsides are covered in lush forests. It is bright and sunny when we arrive and we can see the small village of Vila do Abraao just across the bay. It was a sleepy fishing village until 30 years ago. Despite all the new stores and bars,
the palm studded beachfront town
with its tidy white church is still picturesque.
Except for Abraao’s lone garbage truck, fire engine and police vehicle, cars are not allowed in town so the only transportation is by foot or boat.
The village comprises a few dirt roads and everyone seems to congregate near the beachfront.
There is lots of small boat activity as this is a favorite place to play on the weekends.
There are no tours today, thank the Good Lord, so we have breakfast and head ashore to explore. The tenders are docking at a floating pier that is tied to a small wooden dock. There is a wooden ramp thatwe have to use that is sliding back and forth on the wooden dock. It is really dangerous especially since there is another ship’s group using the floating pier. Our tender arrives just as the other one does and we are caught up in a river of some 200 people trying to get across this narrow moving ramp!

We are prepared for a swim and have some Brazilian currency just in case. We explore a block or two back from the beach promenade on several streets and find two pins for Jack’s collection as well as a canvass sun hat for Carolyn. Dick finds a T-shirt with dive information for the area but it comes only in black so he passes.
We walk half a kilometer to the right of the pier where we landed and find a beach where some people are swimming/soaking and one of our ship’s compliment is spread out under a tree on a beach towel reading. Carolyn, lover of all things beachy that she is, goes for a wade and picks up a few shells. Dick sits on the low seawall and people watches and manages a few photos that may be fun to see.
Carolyn cleans up a bit and we walk a further half kilometer or so along the coast looking for a beach we saw from the tender but it does not appear. We actually enter the national park but the only way you know it is from a sign and a man sitting in a little hut, in some sort of uniform,
while napping in the heat. The national park is home to some exotic birds, monkeys, interesting waterfalls all of which we don't see, but we do see some colorful flowers.
Unfortunately, we don’t have any information on the hiking trails plus it is really hot so we back track before we go far enough to find the big beach. Speaking of heat, it is hot as hades in the sun. But, if you can find shade and a breeze it is not too bad. Of course, by now we have sweated down our clothes and a breeze does feel quite cool to us.

We walk back along the beachfront looking at houses (Everyone has a shower in the front yard!), signs, people and stuff.
We find some of the local police vehicles.
Having now officially been there and done that, we board the tender and return to the ship
where we just make it into the Veranda Restaurant for a bite of lunch before they close at 2PM. We spend the rest of the afternoon in the pool and working on the blog and pictures. We are really getting behind! Dick goes to Trivia, but once again it is not a winning day.

Ray hashis nice Sunday service at 5:15PM then we stay in the Horizon Lounge for drinks, but about 6PM the Bingo lady shows up, they really need to rethink having bingo in the bar at that time of day! We move out on the open deck off the Lounge for awhile then go to our travel group’s Farwel party for this segment. It is held in the Star’s Lounge this time...a nice place for the private parties. On to dinner and bed...we are really tired after two days in the heat.

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