Everyone I talked to in Brazil told me Ilha Grande was paradise: beautiful remote beaches on an island with no roads or cars made up entirely of mountainous jungle and nature reserve.   I was really looking forward to spending the final five nights of my trip at a Bed and Breakfast on a hammock overlooking the harbor.

 I spent most of the daylight hours hiking in the jungle from one remote beach to another amongst deafening cicadas, howler monkeys, and psychedelic butterflies.  I absolutely loved hiking for hours in my bathing suit and emerging from the jungle to these cool little beaches with restaurant shacks, a few people, and little else.   It really was a very cool place.

 Ihla Grande is a nature reserve with a big nightlife and restaurant scene so my evenings, after those great days, were spent all dressed up and eating absolutely delicious food by candlelight at a table in the sand. 

 I loved it... until I didn't.  Five nights can be too long to stay even in Paradise.

 Going to Ilha Grande alone, staying in an overpriced hotel, and not being able to speak Portugese is a perfect way to meet no one.  Frustration with language paired well with increasing loneliness and a monsoon with power outages and Ihla Grande was not so fun for me after a few days.   

Somewhere in that loneliness I vowed to make the rest of the trip a hiking, yoga, and meditation retreat for myself and I absolutely loved it.   I danced around my room, did some yoga, hiked and swam, meditated, wrote, and took photos.  I went out to dinner, I made out with my waiter, met a few nice couples.  

The 55-day drought that Brazil was experiencing came to a screeching halt with a ceaseless monsoon that lasted for days.  The storm wiped out the electricity and water source for the island, nothing was open, the humidity was disgusting, and I began counting the hours until my departure. 

Ihla Grande is a good place to go for the weekend, not the week.  Poor me.

I'm writing these final words from Puerto Rico where I'm going to shoot a wedding on Saturday.  I'm not sure I can even comprehend what just happened.  Did all this just happen?  Am I lying?  Are the photos I just edited mine? 

You guys, thank you so much for giving a shit about me.  Writing this story to you kept me company and kept my spirit afloat.   If you're reading this sentence I love you very much and I'm so grateful to have your support. 

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Paula says:

Are you fucking kidding me? This is extraordinary. Yeah, sure, every life lived is extraordinary in its own way but, holy shit, the stories you'll be able to tell your grandchildren (or my grandchildren). I'm so envious of your photog skills - and your balls.

(02.23.14 @ 08:08 AM)