Hey, we’re on vacation! Why not take a trip to the beach? From where we are, the closest beaches are in Angra dos Reis, a coastal area that has 365 islands (really!). The largest island is Ilha Grande. We have visited that island a few times. Cinesio’s family has a beach house in Pereque, a neighborhood near Angra, and their whole family was there for the weekend. Our friend from Juiz de Fora was there as well, along with his really cool motorboat. (mfgr’s link)
The trip there was relatively uneventful. We followed the boat trailer there most of the way along RJ-155, a two-lane road that winds through the mountains. We were passed often. We did see one accident – a motorcycle rider was down with a crowd around him. Help hadn’t arrived yet. I wonder sometimes how many people are injured and/or die due to a lack of simple patience while driving. If you’re on a two-lane mountain road at night and you cross a double line to pass someone, all you have done is moved up to the next car. If you do this repeatedly, you might arrive at your destination a few minutes early, but at great risk to your life. Because I left a respectful distance between my little car and the boat trailer that I was following, it was viewed as an invitation to pass me and occupy that space. At times, there were as many as six or seven cars between myself and the boat trailer. As these cars passed the boat, the number of cars between us would
diminish, but another car would always pass me to occupy the space between me and the car in front. Note that I wasn’t going any slower than the pack, I was just refusing to tailgate at night on a mountain road. During one part of the trip, the visibility was very bad. The mountain gets high and we were literally in the clouds. Misty and icky – not good conditions for driving like a crazy person.
I’ve got some photos of the drive that were taken in the daytime. The first is what Angra dos Reis looks like as you are coming down the mountain. The second is a typical shot of what the road looks like. The government has recently put blacktop over the cobblestones in the picture – a great improvement. I remember the old road – those stones weren’t much fun. As you can see, this a tropical area, and there’s a lot of greenery. In order to take a photo like the one above, you need to get out of the car and take it from the shoulder of the road. These are not my photos, I googled them from somebody else. The trip back was sunny, though, and the road looked very much like the photos then. Anyway, we arrive at the vacation house – I can’t really call it a beach house, because the beach is about a 20 minute drive away. The house was spartan, with two bedrooms – each with a bathroom, a large kitchen area and a small living room. The sleeping arrangements were novel. Men slept in the room on the right, women slept on the room on the left. Monica and I got to sleep in the living room on the sofa bed due to our status as honored guests (I also noticed that there wasn’t any more floor space in the men’s bedroom). We had some awesome food for dinner. Actually, we ate really well the whole time – Cinesio’s brother owns some restaurants and helped prepare some very good food.
After our night on the couch, we took off for the beach. We didn’t stay there – Ze Esteves and his motorboat ferried our group (it’s an eight-person boat) to a small island (Ilha Peladinho) where we spent the day on the beach. Of course, we had a traditional barbecue in
the Brasilian fashion – lots of meat, salted and cooked over charcoal. Lots of cold beer, an impromptu game of beach futebol (soccer). There was a small trail that led to a really large rock that ran right to the sea – a nice place to drop a fishing line. Some of the guys did some fishing. We noticed a turtle there that popped up for air every fifteen minutes or so. Pretty cool. There really wasn’t any sunshine, but it was still nice and warm. My pale gringo skin appreciated that. As we were leaving, the sun came out from behind the clouds for a few minutes. I had my camera in my hand, so I took a picture from the beach of the only sun that we saw all day. We went home late in the afternoon, where there
was even more food cooked up for us at the vacation house. We spent the evening talking (okay, I mostly listened – my Portuguese still needs work) and hit the sofa bed late.
The next day, we went to the beach again, staying until two pm or so. This time, the sun was out in full strength. Brasilian summer sun is nothing to sneeze at, so I made sure that I was all greased up with spf 50. Just a note about that. I bought sunscreen before we left at a drugstore in Retiro. It was R$36 (about $15.50). Seems a bit expensive. It’s not imported – it’s a Johnson & Johnson product made in Sao Paulo. Why is sunscreen so darn expensive? No big deal for me, but that’s a few hours pay for most people here.
That afternoon, just us guys took off on a boat ride among the islands. We ended up on another island at a beautiful white powder sand beach with a big, white building behind it. The beach had been planted with palm trees and looked as if someone was caring for it. We dropped anchor and swam to the beach to investigate. Although it looked abandoned, I noticed broom-marks in the sand where someone had tidied up. (Yes, given the opportunity, a Brasiliera will sweep the sand.) The building was a partially-completed pousada (inn) and casino. It was two floors without windows or doors. You could see that each room had a view of the beach through an open hole in the concrete wall where a set of doors would likely be, along with a window for each room. There was a pescador living in one of the outbuildings. The guys had a long conversation with the pescador (fisherman) – in Portuguese, of course. Turns out that he’s a squatter and that the lovely place will never be completed because it is not legal to build such a thing in a place like that. “Contra-lei”, was the expression. We would say “against the law”. It would have been an awesome place if completed, but as it was, it was still an interesting afternoon adventure. I wish I had taken my camera along…
After returning to the beach where the women were likely wondering what happened to us, everyone except the gringo baked in the sun for a while – I hid under an umbrella until time to go home. It was just a bit warm for me, and I was a bit tired after two nights on the sofa bed. The photo on the left shows the beach. The umbrellas in the distance belong to a bar on the beach. So, if you want to travel light and you still want to enjoy the beach, you could sit in a resin chair under one of those umbrellas and enjoy stupidly cold beer and tasty munchies all day long. We can’t do that in the US. Pity.
We had a wonderful time in Angra as the guests of some really nice people. It was nice of them to share their house with us for the weekend. The drive home was much more enjoyable, as it was in the daytime and sunny. The air conditioner on the little car kept us comfortable for the 107 km drive home and we didn’t see nearly as much insane driving as on Friday night.
All for now,