The peacefulness of Ilhabela is hard to explain. You couldn’t hear a pin drop but it was certainly island science at its best. The perfect mixture of a boat motor far far in the distance, the birds dancing in synchronized chirp, scant human voices, maybe an occasional dog barking in awe of the sunset. Coming in on the ferry this island greets you with rustic charm reminiscent of one of my favorite Mexican towns, Saulita. You find the typical bustle of a lone village smashed up against mountainous topography and pure brazilian authenticity. Most pousadas nestle themselves amongst the towering banana trees and cascading palms within the immediate elevational changes. There are several places to stay along the main road but even fewer right on the beaches leaving them public for everyone to enjoy. A traditional village square centered around a beautiful blue and white church has plenty of places to buy ice cream, havianas, a new swimsuit, straw hats and local trinkets. The only thing between you and perfection stands tiny and strong against its adversaries. Biting nats make you bleed on impact and stake their territory around the ankles, legs and back leaving large red welts. You can spot a seasoned Ilhabelian by the large amount of bites tattooed on every inch of leg. Equally required for this adventure,‘Off’ is sold right next to sunscreen at the pharmacy and antihistamine is recommended. Thankfully on Christmas day the pharmacy was open since I had come unprepared. If this little bug issue didn’t come packaged with such a view you might find it more bothersome. A refreshing agua de coco or minty pineapple caipirinha will also disguise the twinge to allow for your continued tranquility. We discovered plenty of beaches, large and small and each with its own blend of bars, personality and music flavor. Small bits of Christmas was found in village square decor, a manger near the church full of chickens and a blue?? (blow up) santa was spotted trying to climb the water tower with his toys. We enjoyed an incredible Christmas meal at Marakuthai overlooking a very serene bay of boats and calm sandy waters. While I still longed for the snow that pounded the east coast on Christmas morning and opening presents with my family this was the best way to spend a brazilian Christmas holiday. It was less about the presents this year for we already had plenty to be thankful for.
From the pousada watching the sun drip slowing away, a little Jack Johnson came on from the room next door and I sat back in smile. Like kings proudly looking down upon their spoils I, akin to the bird who chose the tallest tree branch for his post have enjoyed this time of brazilian impression.
*You can find our wonderful pousada here we loved it!