30 November 2014

Big Fun on The Big Island

7 January 2014

We woke up and we waited. We checked out of our hostel and awaited the bus that was to take us to the boat that was to take us to our next destination. In typical South American style, the bus was a couple of hours late. Our morning had been wasted, and there was nothing to be done about it.

The bus ride - which I think took about two hours - was mostly uneventful. The only thing I really remember was the restroom at our rest stop. It had an attendant and reeked of bleach. I loved it.

So from Rio we boarded the bus. The bus took us to a beach, where our luggage was loaded onto a boat. My main concern once at the beach was getting ourselves and our things onto the boat before it departed. Yes, on some level, I realized the boat was chartered and wouldn't leave without its paying customers. We were already hours late, so getting stuck in that random beach town was never really an option. Still, I am who I am. I had my focus and Ang had hers.


Foreshadowing.

Aboard the Aquaholic
The purr of a motor is like a lullaby. I think it comes from road trips I used to take with my parents. Once the boat was boarded, I took some note of the beauty, prayed my gratitude for the blessings in my life, and took a nap. I woke up periodically to make sure I still had my stuff and my friend, but mostly slept.






The view upon arrival.
Ihla Grande is just that - a big island. It doesn't have "cars" or "roads." As far as we could tell, the town only goes three or four "blocks" back from the beach. Our hotel was on the beach and very close to the pier. We just had to walk through a hostel's courtyard and drag our luggage across some sand to get there.

It was a short walk, but gave me time to wonder about what would be the best luggage for travel. I was feeling good about my wheeled bag until just then. But I recognized I wouldn't have loved hoisting a backpack for two weeks either. I was starting to resign myself to just traveling with less stuff when we arrived at our hotel.
The hotel.

Honestly, we were in a beach paradise. There is no other way to describe it. We went to eat and noticed the waiters weren't wearing shoes. Actually, no one was wearing shoes. Everything happened on the beach, in full view of the water and the boats and the sun and the beauty. 

The first of many caipirinhas.
I feel comfortable saying our first meal on Ihla Grande changed our lives, We were at the beach restaurant and there was nowhere to sit. One of the guys who had been on our shuttle all the way from Rio offered to share a table. He and his friend were also sharing a table with another pair of travelers who had been on our shuttle bus / boat. Ang was hesitant. I've never got around to asking why. But I was hungry, and we weren't going to get served without being seated at a table. So we sat with strangers and shared a meal with them. 

Thus begins the tale of the Argentinians we met whilst traveling in Brazil. 'Tis the best tale. 

Danie + Lisandro
Our new friends were all supposed to be staying at the same hostel. Only the hostel overbooked and some of them were told they'd have to sleep on the floor. They were not as livid American about it as I would have been. Then again, they were willing to stay at an island hostel in the first place. So I clearly don't understand them. 

We split after we ate - meaning we took off in different directions even though people on an island are bound to run into each other. We planned to meet later, at the Tuesday night island party. Because that's a thing. 

Ang and I walked to the "town" part of the island where yes, some people were wearing shoes. We shopped for souvenirs and snacks and bought tickets for an island tour the following day.

See? "Urban."




We ate. We walked. We shopped. The only thing left for us to do was relax. It was literally the only thing we had left to do. So we indulged. 





Yes, this is real life.




That night, we met our new friends at their hostel for some sort of club night. It was even more fun than Iguazu. I was happy and relaxed and dancing and drunk on cheap caipirinhas. Nearly a year later, I haven't felt that combination of happiness again. Pay attention. This is what happiness looks like: