Ilha Grande (Ilya Grahnj if you want to sound Brazilian) is an island about half way between Rio and São Paulo, off the coast by about an hour and a half ferry ride. (A seriously pleasant ferry ride, except for the occasional flit of exhaust charcoal that flips on the wind and onto your clothes. Not so bad on the way there, but on the way back we must have been straight in the line of fire- I somehow ended up with clean clothes and a totally black stomach. It was so bizarre. Ruined my undershirt! Forget the black lung, coal ruins CLOTHES!)
The island has no cars or banks, just mountains and inns and restaurants on the beach. And Brazilians! I don't know that I've ever been on a trip out of country where the vast majority of the visiting tourists are actually from that country. It's amazing! Maybe it's a false sense of natural environments, that I don't hear hawkers shouting in English because they're shouting in Portuguese, and that the place feels real and unadulterated by Europeans but it really is all sorts of fake and adulterated by rich Brazilians... But it does feel more real.
The only foreigners I noticed on the island just about we're the ones staying at our hostel. Scandinavians, the whole lot of them, each strangely proud of how few people speak their language, while admitting that except for the Finns, they mostly could understand each other. (A misplaced pride if you ask me).
You can easily spot a foreigner, I realized, especially a Scandinavian, because Brazilians don't seem to sweat. Well surely they sweat but they don't glisten like foreigners do. Even the really fair Brazilians, the ones who you look and and just swear they belong in a Chicago Cubs jersey with a beer in hand really just have a tricky amount of European in their DNA- even they don't seem to get the sheen that I get. We met a Canadian couple on the ferry and later met up for dinner, Kris and Anita. Kris is Brazilian born in Canada and even he didn't really get shiny. I don't get it. Its not acclimatizing, then, its something to do with sweat glands. Neutrogena must require a totally different ad campaign here.
Anyway, the island was filled with mostly Brazilians, that's the point. There were some terrifyingly loud growling monkeys off in the distance who sounded like the Smoke Monster from Lost or a dying/birthing warthog and seemed to be following us on our hike, but apparently they are the size of a guinea pig and I didn't need the big stick I was carrying around just in case. (I would have defended poor Porter, I would have.) And a few not so mangy dogs that loved to snuggle. Gross, I know. Dogs just don't belong in my picture of paradise.