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Ihla Grande

Written on: Wednesday January 3rd, 2007

A journal entry from: Around The World Tour

We hit it lucky with Ihla Grande, this place was a pure slice of paradise.


We left Rio slightly without quite knowing what to expect next, a friend of my dad's had recomended we visit a little place by the coast called Angra dos Reis so we decided to get away from the big city and investigate. We caught a bus down and while we were there got told of the island, so decided to take the ferry out there and scope it out. Angra is a tiny little village dotted right on the beach of an equally tiny island surrounded by dense jungle, as soon as we rounded the island and the main bay came into view we knew we'd struck it lucky.


We hadn't prebooked and the hostel we'd planned to stay in turned us away as they were full, but we'd only just walked out when a local guy ran up to us and asked us to stay at his. Now, although we were scheptical, we figured we'd have a look as that couldn't hurt - not our best idea. We were led up a dirt track that headed inland, I found myself struggling up a steep incline sweating my ass off.. hoping to God this place was good! When we finally got there we thought he was joking, or at least hoped he was.. He led us in to a corrugated iron shack that had a pack of ferile kittens pouncing around the front door, the inside is hard to do justice to.. think.. the butchers room from the texas chainsaw massacre crossed with something from stigg of the dump. Our 'room was a partitioned area with 2 rusted double beds, the bottom beds were broken so we'd have to sleep on the floor - and seeing as we didnt want whatever the jungle had to offer crawling over our faces in the night we decided to decline, to his great disapointment.


The cheeky chap actually came good in the end and led us to a hostel in development right on the beach (thats the one in the album with the hammocks) and it was incredible, the people working and staying there were all top notch and the boys will be with me when I say staying there was incredible. Everyone developed a real comunity spirit and we had some crazy nights out on the town - not that there was much in the way of entertainment - we usually improvised with $5 bottles of cachaca (the local spirit). As far as I recall the first night ended with Sam passed out on the beach, Greg passed out in the reception of another hostel, Tom paddling around in the shallows in front of the hostel.. by himself.. at 4AM.. and myself passed out in someone elses bed.. Fun for all the family.


There wasn't a huge amount to do in town, there were a few restaurants and bars, some over priced diving trips, some party boats moored on the other side of the island and the beach. We opted for the beach most days, although it was a good hours hike to get to some of the better ones. One such beach was called Lopez Mendez and was a world reknown surfers haven, not being surfers, we decided to rent some body boards instead and have a mess around. Greg and I were struggling to find any good waves, the formation of the bay meant that waves broke at different heights and at different angles depending on the time of day. Greg and I got unlucky. We headed out slightly too far, we'd been paddling for a good 20 minutes when we realised we weren't getting any closer to shore, noticing a surfer waving to us frantically we drifted across the current to him.. Neither greg nor I speak any portugese, but 'youre screwed' is pretty international. He and his friends tried to help us navigate through the currents to get back, but we were both so tired we weren't making any headway. The problem was even if we got close enough to catch a wave and ride it in, they were breaking so high and the rip was so strong that if we didn't catch it properly it might kill us.. or at least thats what he tried to show us through hand movements. Greg's surfer got complacent and Greg got caught by a wave, luckily it took him in far enough to wade in - I on the other hand, wasnt so lucky. I got caught by the next wave and it threw me into the rocky outcrop the surfers were trying to get us away from, luckily the board hit them before I did so all I got was winded. I managed to stagger to the beach before my legs gave way and the next wave came in, at which point the man who was both the 'lifeguard' and board rental guy casualy wandered over, asking 'you finished with that board?' I don't even think his toes got wet.


Aside the near death experience we had an incredible time, and although we extended our stay twice we regretted that we had to leave after only a week.. But for anyone in the area, Ihla Grande is a must see.