Brazil: Ilhabela

Okay, so it’s definitely been some time since any updates on this site. I’ve been hanging out in Holland a lot, sorting a few things out and also conserving my money as Europe has this special ability to drain your wallet at a rate which puts Asia to shame.

However, I’d been aware for a while that a few friends of mine had been planning a road trip in Brazil. I wasn’t planning to join as funds didn’t really allow for it at the time, but after a few beers and some coercing from my friend Adam I checked flights and was pleasantly surprised by how cheap they were. So that was that, I was going to Brazil!

The plan was to fly into Sao Paulo, hire a couple of cars and take a road trip up to Rio De Janeiro, making a few stops along the way. My friend and all round GC, Renato, is Brazilian, and picked Adam and I up from the airport and we collected the cars before the others flew in from Amsterdam. In the mean time, we hung out in the country side of Sao Paulo at Renato’s house (thanks again to Renato and his family)!

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The temperature difference between Amsterdam and Brazil was a welcome change for sure! As we waited for the others to arrive, we got stuck in to the first of many Brazilian BBQ’s, which I blame my exceptionally rotund holiday belly on.

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Once the others arrived, we chilled for a while in Sao Paulo before hitting the road and heading north.

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The first stop along the way was to be a an island off the coast of São Sebastião named Ilhabela. Driving there provided our first look at the Brazilian countryside. It’s very green, and I was constantly reminded of my travels through Vietnam, with its windy roads, crazy drivers, random animals and varying elevation. After a few hours we arrived at the ferry, which would transport us all to Ilhabela for around 7 Euros.

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Waiting for the ferry.

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A place that could be relevant to many people’s interests.

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We’re going there!

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I quickly noticed how many Volkswagens there were around the place. Being a VW fan, I knew that cars like the Beetles and Kombis were produced locally in Brazil with using locally made parts for many years after they ceased production in other countries, but I didn’t expect to see as many as I did. They’re everywhere.

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Ilhabela isn’t a small island, and not all of it is accessible by your ordinary passenger vehicle. We elected to hire a better-suited vehicle with driver to get ourselves over to the other side of the island the next day, where lush beaches and waterfalls awaited us.

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One word of advice for anyone that’s planning to come here: the mosquitoes are NOT to be fucked with. These assholes will eat you alive, and your regular pharmacy repellent won’t do shit to combat the massacre that will ensue. The only thing that seemed to repel the bastards was coating yourself in citronella, which is something I’d advise doing on a regular basis in order to prevent yourself looking like you did when you were six years old and got chicken pox, like my foot in the photo below.

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At least Adriana made a sweet butterfly out of my dots.

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While we were in Ilhabela, Renato also took us a little back from the town into the forest to a privately owned place which offers access to a waterfall and natural rock-slide as well as a private Cachaca distillery.

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Waterfall this way, rock-slide this way.

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This is the rock slide, it’s so slippery from all the moss that you can slide down the rock face and into the water. Good fun, if not so good for your back.

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After that we headed back up the stairs to the distillery, where the owners taught us more about the process involved in making the Cachaca, which originates from unadulterated sugar cane and can be made with several different flavours. It’s often the alcohol used when making the popular Brazilian cocktail, the Caipirinha.

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They also had little Hummingbird feeding stations which meant I got my first real close up look with these fascinatin birds! I set my GoPro next to one of the stations, check out the video here:

Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFe-bjILbKU&feature=youtu.be

I think the following story may be one of those, ‘had to be there’ ones, but I’ll tell it anyway. On the way out of this place, we got stopped by a rather intoxicated lady who demanded we all get out of the car and come and have a drink with their group, which was celebrating the birthday of one of their daughters. After being given drinks, this one fellow proceeded to bring out a 50L drum of what we thought was water, and proceeded to drop it on the ground, spilling the entire lot everywhere. This water turned out to be pure Cachaca, and must have been worth a fair bit… but nobody gave a shit. The party continued, and several of us got made to stand in front of the group and sing a ballad to the birthday girl. Many laughs were had. Below is the only photo I have of this situation.

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If you come here, you need to get amongst these little bastards. They’re like little mini pizza pies and each contain about 77299 calories of belly-widening goodness. Go forth and conquer.

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I’m going to cut off this post here as I have quite a bit to cover and it will otherwise get too long. I know these posts may not be as intriguing as some of my others as this was more of a holiday than an exploration but thanks for reading anyway!

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– Damo

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