Letters to a Sister 10

On Friday, we had quite an adventurous day!
At 6am, we met Alecs in the hotel lobby. We had booked a tour via the hotel to Ilha Grande ( ‘Big Island’.) We were told we would drive from the hotel to a village, get a boat to the island, then hike for three hours through lush forest to beautiful beaches.
This was all true. However, they omitted to tell us a few things:
1) Friday is the WORST day for traffic in Rio. It took us two hours to leave the city and about three hours to get back in the evening.
Alecs did a coffee and washroom stop ( nice clean facilities!) so it was okay, but it wasted a lot of the day.

As we drove we saw police had stopped vehicles in various places. They carried machine guns. There’s a VERY strong police presence in Rio. On the boat another passenger had a hand gun. Turned out he too was a policeman.
Also saw more amazing wall art/ graffiti.
2) When we met Alecs, he advised us to go back to room and change into sturdy shoes, long sleeves etc, needed proper hiking stuff.

3) The hike was long and steep. We basically walked/ scrabbled/ climbed for over an hour UP a mountain track. When we remembered to look up, it was beautiful but it was hard going, narrow paths, slippery clay covering rocks, very steep. Needed to concentrate on not falling.
We then walked/ slid for an hour down the other side.

Finally reached the beach to find the track ended on a ten foot high rock, with a rope. No other way down. Had to abseil down to the beach. Lots of screaming from Barbie, which was helpful as allowed me time to gather my thoughts and watch how to do it.

4) Beach beautiful and had cafe with loo. Only permitted a quick rest, then trekked for another hour and a half to next beach. No abseiling this time ( its surprising what you come to appreciate!)

It was not such a steep walk, though did begin with climbing a 45 degree slope of granite. Not so easy with tired legs and sand slippery shoes.
Made it with no major injuries, though I did slip at one point and jar my wrist. Luckily didn’t slip into one of the trees coated with four inch long spikes ( which they used to use in blow guns as weapons.)

Arrived at second beach. Saw black vultures ( prob waiting for exhausted hikers.)

The third, most beautiful beach, was a further hike, then a return to second beach for boat out. We opted to stay at second beach. Barbie and Ken went to third beach, said was big, beautiful, and they saw monkeys. I can live without seeing it.

5) Getting on boat back to island village involved two floating piers connected by a narrow walkway at 50 degree angle. Bit of a challenge.

6) Boat to island village small, on big waves in open sea. Not wearing life jacket, aware would sink like a stone in heavy boots.

7) Speedboat to mainland fast but cold ( needed a coat.) I was not overly reassured by ‘lookout’ man who was checking for floating debris because if we hit any we would flip over.

Also somewhat bemused by other passenger, a disheveled elderly man who closely examined our bags and then very slowly extracted a bic razor from his back pack. I was too exhausted to do more than giggle ( slightly hysterical by this point.) – Old man then slowly shaved his face as we went. Unexpected.

On way back to Rio, car ran over an abandoned cone ( heavy traffic, safer than swerving to avoid it.) Was removed from under car by man with shovel at petrol station.

Satnav kept recommending we leave the traffic jam and take a side road. Alecs said the route would take us through two favelas and might not be safe. I’m glad he didn’t, felt I had had enough adventure for one day.

Take care,
Anne xxx

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