Ihlabela; Where Brazilians go for Holiday and Mosquitos Prosper

After São Paulo, TJ and I boarded a bus for Ihlabela, a small island off the coast between São Paulo and Rio. We got our first glimpse into how big NYE would be when our 3 hour bus took 7 hours with the traffic. It also freaked us out enough to book a night bus to Rio for New Years Eve rather than deal with traffic during the day again. 

We had two days of adventures in Ihlabela- a bike to a beach one day and a jeep excursion to a beach the other. Both were recommended for their beauty and relative isolation from the crowds that would be in town to celebrate New Years. 

We rented bikes in town for the two days that we’d be there. TJ was keen to do some real mountain biking and I was (shockingly) more in a lollygagging type mood so he rode ahead. It’s a sizable city but there is really only one main road with a bunch of beaches and restaurants, which would turn into a dirt road before it curved up and around into Jabaquara Beach. It was about a 20km ride, hot, and relatively hilly for a beginner like myself. I’m no expert mountain biker but I do know that 4 times is too many times for the chain to fall off. The last time, I wasn’t able to get it back on and after a significant amount of cussing figured I’d walk the last 4km (I could coast down the downhills) rather than screw with it any more. I must have been a sight; when I finally arrived TJ took one look and asked if I’d taken a fall or something. I had grease on my hands and face from messing with the chain and somehow mud everywhere else. The last 4km had turned into 8km because the sign was wrong. It was worth it though–the beach was beautiful. 

Dirty face selfie of Jabaquara. I guess my nose itched.

We hung out for a while; TJ was able to get the chain back on but we realized it was bent and we wouldn’t be able to ride back without fixing it. A taxi couldn’t make it out, and we ended up paying some locals that worked at the restaurant 25 bucks to ride back (with our bikes). 

Stupid bike, beautiful beach.
 
 
This dog was unimpressed that TJ wouldn’t share his hot dog.
 
Waiting for the van, TJ and I got annihilated by mosquitos. So much so that our Airbnb hosts gave me some cream and advice (take some antihistamines, this isn’t normal). Two days later, both our ankles had swelled up so much it was like they were sprained. I’ll spare you the photo, but it was definitely bad news bears. (Yes I’ve had vaccines, no we didn’t get Zika virus).

The next day we were appreciative for a more turnkey tour, which was a jeep excursion to the other side of the island to Castelhanos, another beach. Waterfalls are a highlight of this particular island, and so even after much more hiking than anticipated yesterday I jumped at the chance for a hike up to see this beauty. 

 

The waterfall was an hour and a half return hike and definitely worth it.
 
 
We had an interesting conversation in Spanglish/Portuguese/sign language with our fellow tour mates.
 

For now, off to Rio for New Years! 

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