trindade and ilha do mel - tranquility

  • view from my room
  • main beach
  • loads of weird worms that look like a turd
  • heading out for a surf
  • the surf group
  • T and Pippa
  • T and Pippa crossing the jungle
  • pedro and matt checking out the surf
  • matt looking a bit shocked by the waves
  • the natural pools
  • the surfing beach
  • johna and taneel
  • leaving for the island
  • the island in the distance
  • sunset drinks by an old boat
  • chilled dog joined us for drinks

When morning came on the 8th of October on Ilha Grande, I woke up to what looked like a typhoon outside. I contemplated staying on the island one more day to sit out the storm, but then figured it would be best to just use a crappy day like that for travelling. Not such a good idea. By the time I had walked all the way along the beach to the docks, I was soaked. I got onto the ferry and within 40 minutes I had arrived at Anger dos Reis, and the storm was still going. There was no sheltered area at the bus stop, so the soaking continued. The bus to Paraty, which was my first connecting point, was just a local bus. So I had to get onto it with my day pack, rucksack and board bag and basically push people out the way. Making matters worse there was a group of 7 Argentian girls who were all travelling with normal suitcases, who also got on the bus. The locals were not at all impressed. On arriving in Paraty I waited a few minutes before boarding another local bus to Trindade - thankfully this bus was pretty much empty. Still the rain continued.

When I arrived in Trindade I walked around in the rain struggling to find Kaissara - the hostel I'd be staying at. When I finally found the hostel, I was exhausted and what felt like a cold coming on in the morning had turned into a full on cold. The hostel is set in an amazing environment, at the top of a hill set amongst the rain forrest. Sitting on the balcony among the coconut trees and thick vegetation, you felt like you're thousands of miles from any civilisation - yet Rio is a mere 4 hours away. The hostel owner George, from England, is a really sound guy. He was a traveller himself and when he stumbled across Trindade a few years ago he decided to start up a hostel here. He was just about to cook up a curry, and so I joined him and the other guests for a hearty meal before heading to bed hoping I'd feel better in the morning.

Morning came and I felt terrible. And the rain continued. I had breakfast, went down to the pharmacy for some medication and went straight back to bed where I spent the rest of the day. In the evening I finally crawled out of bed and when I walked into the communal area, there was a big group of new guests - the South Africans from Ilha Grande. I got chatting to them and they proved to be a great crowd! They're Pete and Katherine a.k.a Rooks (a married couple from Joburg), John and Taneel (otherwise know as Teabag or Turtle head), Matt and Pippa and Rob (Pete's brother) - all of them younger than me. There was also a cool couple from Ireland, Steve and Lisa, who're heading to South Africa next year.

The next day, the rain persisted, and everybody pretty much hung out around the hostel. I was still not feeling great and decided not to go for a morning surf. In the afternoon the South Africans invited me out to the beach with them for a few ball games. The beach closest to the hostel looked like it wasn't surfable so me and Matt (one of the South Africans who also surfs) left our boards behind. We all headed through a bit of jungle to reach a beach on the far side of Trindade. As soon as we arrived I started regretting not having taken my board. The waves were about 4 foot and clean. We all went in for a bodysurf and even just body surfing you could carve across the face. Great fun! All this probably doesn't sound very interesting, because most people who'd read this have been to beaches and body surfed etc. But, the main difference here is the absolute beauty of the sourrounding landscape. The beaches at Trindade are surrounded by mountains covered in rainforrest. And becuase the weather was still semi rainy, most of the peaks had this mysterious cloud cover over them. Words can't really explain this and I had no camera.

That evening George had a BBQ for the hostel (i told him that considering 50% of his guests were South African he should rename it to a braai). It was superb. Some of the nicest meat I've had in Brasil, and more than I could handle. After dinner everybody sat around and had a couple of beers but we all took it easy. Except for an English couple and a Kiwi guy who went into the village to party. I forgot to mention that by Saturday morning, the sleepy Trindade village had turned into what looked like a music festival because it was a holiday weekend in Brazil. The next morning the Kiwi guy p!ssed in his hostel room - everybody was very unimpressed.

Finally though, the sun had come out to play. We all headed out to the beach pretty early with the aim of staying there the whole day. Matt and I went in for a morning surf, eventhough the conditions weren't great. I was in there for about 2 hours and after that my arms felt like jellow. After a couple of hours chilling in the sun, we went in for our afternoon session. By then the wind had completely died down, the tide had come in a bit and the waves were beautifully clean. I caught 3 waves that abosultely made my day. We headed back to the hostel, and decided to head to the beach at 6am the next day for an early session. I was exhausted and was in bed by 9pm that evening.

At 6am we headed out through the bit of jungle and onto the beach we had been surfing the past 2 days. We timed it perfectly. There was no wind, the waves were clean, and there was only one other guy in the water. I definitely felt that my confidence in the surf was improving because I was paddling into waves that previously were too steep for me. Still though, there were sets that came through that neither me or Matt dared paddling into. They were overhead, and extremely steep. I paddled into one of them and as I dropped in the top of the crashing wave flicked my right foot off the board and I tumbled down hard. Matt also got smashed pretty bad with one wave and was left with a massive nasty bruise on his arm. The other guy in the water was charging everything down. I think maybe he was on something because he had way too much energy and was getting exciteable about everything. As often is the case, one wave can make a session, this one was so clean and pealing perfectly - had I been a better surfer I could have gotten barreled in that one - maybe some day. The previous 2 days of surf and the early session caught up with me and in the afternoon I just chilled on the hammock, reading a bit and dozing off.

The next day our dawn session wasn't quite as good. The waves were closing out and there wasn't much swell. After paddling around for a while and catching one mediocre wave, I put my board down and 4 of us just had a bodysurfing session. We were all leaving that afternoon, and as luck would have it, a couple of hours before leaving, the rain started again. Part of me didn't want to leave this beautiful place, but I knew that with just over a month of my trip to go, and with a few must see places still ahead of me, timewise I couldn't afford to dawdle. Trindade is the kind of place I would love to open a little bar or hostel in. In some way s it reminded me of Tofo in Mozambique, another place I fell in love with.

We got onto a bus back to Paraty, and from there caught a bus to Sao Paolo. The bus to Sao Paolo took about 6 hours and we hoped to catch the onward bus to Curitiba at about midnight, which would then get us there at about 6am. The girls headed off to buy the tickets, it was about 10:15pm and thinking I had about an hour and a half to kill, I headed off to an internet cafe and to find a bank. As luck would have it the girls managed to get tickets for the 11pm bus, and at about 5 to 11 a frantic Pete and Rob found me at an ATM asking me where the hell I had been because the bus was ready to leave. We ran to the bus stop where they were all waiting - my luggage already in the bus. They said they figured that if they wouldn't find me they'd just take my stuff with in the hope that I'd just follow them on the next bus. Close call!

We arrived in Curitiba at about 6am and then took a 2 and a half hour bus to Pontal do Sol from where we took a boat to Ilha do Mel (Honey Island). Arriving in Ilha do Mel I realised we had found another one of those idyllic places where I could surf, chill, go fishing, hike etc It's a beautiful island with a completely different landscape to that which I'd been accostomed to over the past couple of weeks along the Brazilian coast. It sort of resembled the coast line along the Western Cape. As soon as we checked into Pousadinha, I headed off to Praia Grande and Praia de Fora in search of the good surf people had told me about. Unfortunately the sea was a washing machine - there'd be no surf that day. We had lunch on the beach and then I headed back for a much needed sleep on the hammock - I didn't sleep at all on the overnight bus. When sunset came, we headed down to one of the desserted beaches, with a few beers, rum and snacks and sat there chatting, and playing card games.

That evening the room Rob and I were in was invaded by mosquitos - stupidly we had left the window open. I had over twenty bites through the night and didn't sleep much. At about 2am a massive thunder and lightning storm started. The rain came down hard and through the pousada windows the sky lit up bright with lighting. It was quite eery seeing the sillhoutte of the blowing trees in the lightning, through the window. A bit like one of those b-grade thrillers where a bunch of people are on a desserted island and any minute you expect to see some mad man standing by the window, fishing hook in hand. When the storm ended, there was complete silence, even the mosquitos seemed to have disappeared and I finally fell asleep.

After breakfast I saw a local surfer passing by and asked him how the surf was looking. He said Praia de Fora was going off - barreling. He invited me to head out with him but I told him I'd see him out there in a few minutes when the rest were ready to go. When I got to Praia de Fora the conditions were far from ideal - in fact they were probably worse than the day before. Realising I had only 3 days left of the surf part of my trip, before heading to Iguazu falls and onwards to Patagonia, I decided I would leave the island and head to Florionopolis where better surf was almost guaranteed. As idyllic as the island was, I really wanted to maximise the surf time before the "dry spell". I said my goodbyes to the South Africans with whom I'd been having such a cool time and headed out to the port to catch the soonest boat to the mainland hoping I'd see them in Floripa in a couple of days.