Friday, November 7, 2008

Brazil '08, Day 3 - Ilhabela, SP

After waking up we had another excellent breakfast at Manga Rosa (our last). Today they had two cakes to choose from! Then we packed up our stuff and said goodbye to Paulo and Mariley, our excellent hosts, and went on our merry way.

Loaded with our backpacks we walked to the center of Vila – near the church with the giant metal Jesus structure – and waited for the bus, which of course had just left. Among the school kids we spotted two other backpackers and upon making some conversation discovered that they were from Germany. While I was practicing my Deutsch the bus arrived, only not where we were expecting it but on the other side of the little park. So we ran, loaded as we were with our bags, and caught it just in time. Since the northern bus runs only as far as the ferry we had to get off and wait for the southern bus. As luck would have it one was scheduled to arrive in 15 minutes, giving us just enough time to walk to the local office of the Litorania bus line and purchase tickets for a bus tomorrow evening to Sao Paulo.

We took the southern bus to Portinho and had no trouble locating the Vida Bela pousada where we intended to spend the night. This was the same place recommended to us by the Dutch girls we met on the first day. It is much bigger than Manga Rosa and the d├ęcor is more rustic. Everything is done up in many bright colors and there is a pond, a gym, a swimming pool, outdoor couches with privacy curtains, a shrine and even, inexplicable, a sauna. Unfortunately they seemed to be doing some remodeling and were painting the rooms around us. I am annoying very sensitive to smells and had mad headaches whenever I hung around the room for longer than a few minutes. Therefore, we unpacked and quickly went out for the day.

We had two goals today – to go to the beach, and to see some of the local waterfalls, Cachoeira dos tres tombos (waterfalls of the three tumbles or drops). The beach was first on our list. We headed south by foot and asked directions every so often. The road went up and down and had a very isolated feeling to it. We passed a restaurant where we thought we might eat later tonight and the road that lead to the waterfalls. A woman waiting for a bus suggested that we go to Praia Juliao instead of Feiticeira, which was closer. All of them were somewhere below the road so we could not see them. In Juliao we found a snack place and had some ham and cheese sandwiches.

After walking a while longer and seeing some of these very interesting local residences, we discovered that the entrance to the beach was all the way back by the sandwich place so we had to retrace our steps.

The beach itself was very windy today. At first we huddled on the beach under a blanket, and then went into the ocean and threw a coconut around to keep warm. We did not end up staying long, however, as we were both freezing.

Finding the waterfalls turned out to be very confusing. We followed the marked side road passed a very empty looking but cheap pousada, and had to go on some wicked vertical but paved roads for quite a while. There was not a single person in sight, nor a sign. The only sign we did see pointed us towards a dead end road. So in the end, the way to get to the waterfalls is to always take the right-hand road once you get onto that side street. They must not get many tourists… Eventually one comes to a wooden gate and a kind of sign that explains that there are three waterfalls one after the other, counting from the top. They are not terribly impressive but it was still nice, and we did not see any snakes, which was a bonus.

3rd waterfall.

2nd waterfall.

1st waterfall.

As we headed back the sun was beginning to set. I was pretty beat with my cold and all this wind. All I wanted was a hot shower and some good food. The restaurant we had passed, Ilha Sul, looked very nice but was extremely expensive. It also proved to be the only restaurant for miles so we had no choice. It was, however, delicious. They brought us an entire fish and deboned it in front of us. While being able to afford it was no problem for us with our dollars, the rest of the customers, and there weren’t many, were extremely posh, so we felt a bit out of place.

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