Ilha Grande

We left Ilha Grande this afternoon, hitching a ride out of dodge back to Rio, where we will hang out until Tuesday. As much patience as we tried to give Ilha Grande, and as much understanding of local culture and ways, there’s no getting around plain old dirty.

Just LOOK at the thick filth on the water in front of our hotel.

The dichotomy is the natural beauty of the island versus the way the residents and tourists pollute the water and land.

There was little or no concept of picking up, let alone throwing away, even our waiter at a local hangout swept the dirty napkins off the table next to us right onto the sandy beach.

We saw no portable toilets so one can only imagine where the throngs of sunbathers go to the bathroom.

No cars are allowed on the island so all goods come in by boat and there is a dirt pathway along the side of the island we were on that connects the town to the pousadas and beaches. A constant stream of people on a Sunday, even more when a cruise ship comes into town. The Costa Magica was here, and their tenders came in two and three at a time.

A ferry carries people and goods from the mainland…..Deep black smoke came from the stackpipe.

The water taxis seem to have the steadiest work, a constant song from the taxi men to get your attention to ride their boat.

I'm guessing the dangling wires is reason one why we had no phones and only a nanosecond of internet!!

Maybe it’s the indifference we felt here that made us unhappy (and yes, our particular pousada was too dirty for us to stay). It’s tough to imagine how the situation will get any better soon. We saw it as a pretty place people come to see, pollute, then leave.

No experience is a bad one when traveling. We’ve had the luxury of seeing alot of the world and only on a rare occasion do we run across a place that we just can’t do. This was one.

9 thoughts on “Ilha Grande

  1. You did us a big favor. Now we know where not to go. Thanks. I couldn’t stay in a dirty place, either. Now that you got the unfortunate surprise out of the way, the rest of the trip ought to go swimmingly.
    Looking forward to the next stop on your South American adventure.

    1. swanton: we are FAR from being princess-types and accept local culture well but dirt is dirt, period amen. Mr. EOS and I are in full agreement on this issue. As I said, what is sad, is that the natural environment is spectacular but people are ruining it.

  2. Hi EOS
    It looks disgusting – your photos are so self explanatory I can so understand why you left.

    It’s so sad to learn that in 2012 in an island of such beauty, there are people who still don’t know the word “pollution”.

    1. Rosie: The pollution factor was not just on Ilha Grande. We’ve seen it other places. Rio isn’t exactly spotless and the volume of trucks an boats in the Rio harbor give us reason to surmise the problem is country-wide. People have to be trained to not pollute. Americana are incensed to see garbage strewn, but we got the sense that locals don’t see it as an issue.

  3. Hi,
    When you said dirty, you actually meant filthy, that is disgusting, even if locals and tourists throw rubbish there is still no excuse for what I see in the photos. Whoever the powers that be are on the Island need to be thrown out and someone that can employ people to keep the Island clean, remove rubbish etc is needed.

    The water must have on awful smell to it, as would the Island I suspect, I’m glad you got out of there, was you able to get hold of your travel agent? Let them know how bad it was? Send them a link to this post so they can see for themselves how bas it is and take the Island off their list of places to visit.

    1. Mags: As I said to Rosie, I think the issue is that the country as a whole doesn’t demand or expect their land/water to be clean. It’s a cultural divide we don’t understand.

      We did speak with our agent, but only long enough to arrange getting us OFF the island. We’ll discuss the specifics of the destination when we get home and have a chance to review the choices. I didn’t want to get into a disagreement now but we agree that the island does not make sense as a tourist destination. BUT, you did see that huge cruise ship. Two or three come a WEEK, so the Ilha Grande Tourist Board is still getting them here.

      I will say we only saw one small aspect of the island. It is large and diverse, from mountain trails to a beach described as “one of the most beautiful in Brazil.” It’s on the whole other side of the island, where, I presume, few go unless they are on the island for a few days. And maybe because few go, it actually might still be clean.

      The town we were in is the default “come over for the day and see” so it gets the brunt of the garbage strewn. I hate to disparage an entire island after only seeing such a little bit of it.

  4. Thank you for posting. Pretty dirty and indeed a shame. Your last sentence in the comment above is correct. It would be much more accurate if you referred to “Abraão”, and not Ilha Grande. Abraão is the main village and less than half the population of the island. Venturing out to Lopes Mendes, Aventureiro, Parnaioca, Bananal, or any of the other literally hundreds of stopping points around the island of Ilha Grande will show the unspoiled paradise that the island is. Abraão is a mess… but it’s just the tip of Ilha Grande. There aren’t many places left in the world that have no cars, no roads, protection from commercial development both horizontally and vertically by 4 different entities, and that you can drink directly from the streams when out hiking (albeit not in the tiny village of Abraão). Safe travels!

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