Remember that Billy Joel song that starts off, “Oh, what a night”? I’m singing that song right now, in more a figurative way than a literal one, considering I wasn’t alive in late December, back in ’63, and although I’m sure it was a very “special time” for him, I wouldn’t know. What I DO know is how awesome our trip to Ilhabela was and how fifteen years from now I’ll be singing my own song about it. Maybe not. Maybe I exaggerated about that. But you get the point. From start to finish, which is right now at 8:15 on Sunday night, it was all very special.
This is because we finally, finally had sun. Every weekend since before Dennis arrived (which was last month, by the way,) it has been raining. And while that’s not so bad, considering this part of Brazil was a virtual desert, you start to get a little stir crazy weekend after weekend pent up in an apartment building 10 floors off the street. So we took off on Friday and arrived in Sao Sebastiao after two different bus rides, where we stayed at a pousada–which basically had the nicest comforter in this whole country–and left the very next morning on a free ferry to Ilhabela.
Ilhabela is a fifteen minute boat ride off the continent. And it is gigantic. At night, as we wound along the coastal road from Caraguatatuba on our second bus to Sao Sebastiao, we couldn’t see that there were gigantic mountains just a half-mile off the coast; dark, thick green forest rises directly out of the water on Ilhabela. In fact, the island is so close to the continent that when we woke up in Sao Sebastiao, crawled out from beneath the world’s finest comforter, and looked out the window, we had no idea that the huge mountains we saw just outside were not on the continent. I think I even called Dennis “stupid” for suggesting that those hills could be part of an island. And then, to save us all time, I went ahead and stuck my foot in my mouth and kept it there for the entire weekend because I’ve grown rather accustomed to its texture against my tongue since Dennis has been here. I figured it would just be easier for both of us if I didn’t remove it again. Of course, he was right. He’s always right. And I’m always the ultra-sensitive, reactionary, headstrong and thought-weak tagalong with the superiority complex. Clearly, I digress. And clearly, I have some issues that my therapist wasn’t able to therapize when I was fourteen. But…moving right along.
Allow me to tell you about our pousada which, unlike the hooker hotel where
we I had to get drunk to fall asleep in because of its skankiness, was, like the hooker hotel, the cheapest thing around. And while going on vacation to an island and sleeping in the pousada that was “the cheapest thing around” might sound sketchy (because going to Sao Paulo and sleeping in a hotel that delivers condoms through the door isn’t sketchy, at all) it was actually paradise. It was 101 steps directly up a mountainside, but it overlooked the ocean and was therefore paradise. The weekend rate was R$80, which is basically US$45 a night, and was at least 50% cheaper than all the other pousadas on the island. On our private balcony, we read books, dried out our towels, and drank waters and sodas from the frigobar, which were priced normally because the owners of the pousada also owned a snack shop and didn’t bother raising the prices exorbitantly for the Gatorades and cans of beer with which they stocked the mini-fridges.
(that’s Dennis, at the top, around step #80.)
Besides the fact that in order to walk back to our room from the beach we had to take small pit stops for breath and water at various times, the only bad thing we experienced were sand flies. They weren’t so bad when I was actually on the sand during the day on Saturday. And maybe it was my bad for assuming that sand flies live only in the sand, because these little assholes bit me to death at night while I was sleeping. They set up camp on my ankles and orienteered along the length of my leg (which, I admit is not very long, but to a sand fly it must have been like the Bataan Death March, except filled with opportunities for biting, which, correct me if I’m wrong, the Bataan Death March was lacking.) Anyhow, I awoke this morning to find a series of bright red swollen bug bites decorating my legs and torso and which itched like anything that itches really bad. When I put my bathing suit on I discovered another huge one, half the size of the Dominican Republic on my right butt cheek and severely outside the limits of my bathing suit, making it thus impossible to cover. So I spent the better part of my morning standing in waist-deep ocean water to ensure no one would notice red bulls eye (bull’s eye?) the size of a Ferrero Rocher that would surely distract them from all the other bulls’ eyes (bulls eyes? bullseyes? seriously, how do you pluralize that word? or punctuate it properly, for that matter?) that were lighting up my pale white body.
Besides the stairmaster and the sand flies, however, the trip was wonderful. Plenty of sun on Saturday, nice and easy afternoon. Dennis went for a bike ride during which the bike promptly broke and he had to wade through Portuguese to get a guy to fix it in town while I lazed around on the beach because seriously, I’m not leaving sand once I’m on it, even if flies are going to bite my lower half to bits. Today we spent the better part of today traveling back from Ilhabela, but that was fine because it was overcast most of today. Now I’m home and ready to start my week at school. In three weeks I’ll be home!