It’s safe to say that after not only nine intense days in Rio but a whole month of World Cup madness in Brazil, I was in desperate need of rest, relaxation, and the beach. So on the afternoon of July 20th I took a van and boat just a few hours from Rio to the beautiful little island of Ilha Grande (which actually means big island…so maybe it’s not so little after all). After checking into my hostel, I hooked up with the Australian posse from the Amazon boat/Rio for a laid back home-cooked meal and some card-playing. Just what the doctor ordered!
The next day we had to take a boat and then hike through the hilly jungle to “secluded” and idyllic Lopes Mendes beach, which was packed with other backpackers like ourselves in recovery mode. That evening I met a nice group of people from my hostel, and together we went for dinner, beers and slackline on the beach (where I pulled my slackline handstand out of hibernation–still got it), and finally to a beachside club. I knew when I’d had enough caipirinhas for the night, and I snuck out early.
The next morning I was up early to join my new hostel buddies for a day out on a sailboat. It was a gloriously sunny day spent snorkeling in blue lagoons, sailing, belly-laughing, and barbecuing on the beach. That evening we went for dinner as a group and then kept our little party going on a pier. It was a long day–I did not know when I’d had enough caipirinhas for the night, and I should have snuck out early.
The next morning, feeling worse for wear, I said goodbye to my hostel crew and took a boat and van to the colonial town of Paraty. At this point I was at the point of exhaustion, and I was completely burnt-out on drinking, partying, backpackers, cachaça, beer, music, people, Brazil, the world…. Fortunately, Paraty was the perfect place for someone who wanted to escape, as it was super-chilled, quiet, and cloudy. Everything is always more chilled out when it’s cloudy. Plus, I got lucky at my hostel (which was right on the beach) with a dorm room to myself, so I didn’t have to even talk to people!
I spent the next day having some much-needed “me time” in the nearby hippie town of Trinidad, hanging out on the beach and getting my daily fix for my newly-acquired açaí bowl addiction. If you’re not familiar with açaí, it’s this superfood berry indigenous to Brazil, and it gives you loads of energy (and cures hangovers, might I add). Açaí bowls are basically a really thick smoothie of blended frozen açaí berries topped with granola, bananas, and honey. Heaven and enlightenment and the crack of goodness in a bowl.
That evening back at my hostel, I bumped into two German guys I had previously met in my second Rio hostel. One of the guys–Monty–had come up to me in the Rio hostel, saying, “I know you. From a long time ago. I’ll figure it out.” and walked away. The next day, he came up to me again and said, “Paramericana Hostel. Panama City.” That was ten months before! I love how the small little backpacking world always keeps giving you nice surprises. I temporarily came out of solitary confinement to spend the evening hanging out with them on the beach next to a fire, having pull-up competitions (I won, natch.), and drinking wine.
My last day in Paraty was spent sleeping, relaxing, and exploring the cloudy colonial town. It was another nice day hanging out with myself before I had to head back to Rio the following day. The morning of July 26th I was up early to catch a van back to Rio and back to my lovely hostel in Santa Teresa. I only had one night there, as I had to be up early the next morning to catch my flight to Colombia. I was still in antisocial loner mode, so I cooked dinner in the kitchen and got ready for bed quite early.
I was looking forward to a quiet night with my book; unfortunately, my hostel had other plans in store for me, as they were throwing a massive birthday party for the manager, complete with decorations, catering, a fully-stoked bar, a bazillion guests, and a loud band (that played right under my bed). I spent hours desperately trying to go to sleep over the pulsating music and my fellow dorm-mates turning on lights and coming in/out/in/out of the room all night. Not to mention the extreme guilt and self -abuse for not going down and joining in on the fun–the band was actually really, really good It was my last night in Rio, after all. But no, I succumbed to my social apathy, and eventually the world became still and I fell asleep.
Next Stop: Bogota, Colombia!