We were quietly reading at the end of the dock (I was in the shade of course) when Anna spotted us; “Hilaryyyyyyyyyyyyyy!” she yelled as she, Stefano and Julia came towards us. Hugs and intros were made, then immediately to business! A round of strawberry/lime caipirinhas were ordered and a giant fish dinner was going to be prepared! (side note: strawberry/lime is my new favourite). We all went for a swim, sipped on drinks, caught up on stories and celebrated our reunion in Brazil!! A fantastic afternoon if I say so myself.
Before dinner was up, Anna invited us to come check out the new home her family was building. Although her grandparents already own a large home on the hillside, this new place is where they’ve always envisioned their dream home; and oh my god a dream home it is! This is a place for family and friends to gather, just minutes up the hill from the hotel, and it has a breathtaking view of the ocean and island. Although still in construction, they are hoping for the house to be livable by Carnaval (less than a week away). But even unfinished, you can see how perfect this place is going to be. There’s a beautiful wood entrance with a walkway over a fishpond to start. You can see right through the house to the view from the other side. Giant peaked ceilings make up the common room that is big enough for a great party! It will be fully equipped with a billiards table and an area for people to congregate. Then there’s the state-of-the-art kitchen, the giant bar with a beautifully tiled floor, and the lavish infinity pool that looks out over the edge of the mountain towards the sea. The pool had just been filled that afternoon so we took advantage and were the first people to swim in it! It was incredible!
Then, every family member has his or her own bedroom, each with an en-suite bathroom and a gorgeous wooden porch with a view! As well, there are several equally equipped guest rooms, one of which is 100% wheelchair accessible just in case (Foresight from Anna’s sister who is a geriatrics doctor). Even the maid’s quarters were spectacular with a quaint little “American” kitchen and lovely bedroom. Her parents have the best room (obviously), which is on the top floor and overlooks the pool. They have a private hot tub area as well as a bathroom that shames the one we have in our hotel suite! Their walk-in closet is about the same size as my bedroom at home, and the peaked ceilings with wooden beams gives the place a modern looking log cabin feel – with the most unreal view of a tropical island. All in all, the place has 12 bathrooms and, to be honest, I lost track of the number of rooms. But I would KILL for a house like this! As her father puts it, “it’s Anna’s mother’s dream house and his nightmare house” as I’m sure the cost of the place is out of this world – but worth every penny. Congrats Anna on the wonderful place, I promise I will be back to visit when it’s all completed!!
After checking out the house, we got a call that dinner was ready down at the hotel bar. A wonderful meal of fish and rice and salad, the 6 of us (Anna, Stefano, Julia, Anna’s mother, and Adam and I) sat in the bar, stuffed our faces and told stories as the sun went down over the water. We stayed well into the night drinking beers and cosmopolitans and, we had so much fun that Adam and I were easily convinced to stay another night. Rio can wait one more day for us!
So the next day, we got up early and headed out to the dock to go boating. Anna and Stefano already had everything organized for the trip; the boat was filled with gas, the cooler was filled with drinks and the wake boards were loaded up! The 5 of us jumped on, and headed on our way. We were off to the opposite side of the island (about an hour and a half speedboat ride away), which is, essentially, a deserted expanse of white sand beaches and bright green water. Apart from the occasional tiny home for fishermen, and a restaurant managed by the owner of the Ilhabela yacht club, the place is empty. It is only accessible by boat, or by a couple hours of extreme 4X4ing through dense jungle – which is what makes it such an idyllic paradise.
So we sped through the water towards our destination, blasted some tunes and enjoyed the sunshine. The trip was gorgeous. Dozens of small, uninhabited islands were scattered around the inlet. Thick, leafy jungle sprawled across the landscape, and misty clouds hung around the peaks of the hills. Large birds circled overhead, and once again I felt like I was an extra in a Jurassic Park movie.
When we arrived on the other side of the island, we pulled up to the restaurant and Anna asked the two men working there to make us some lunch. They had already heard we were coming and were preparing a big feast for us all! Apparently this restaurant serves the BEST and freshest fish in the whole of the Ilhabela, so we were excited to try it out. As we waited for lunch, we opened up a few bottles of champagne to celebrate and went for a swim. Within no time, a man in a dingy came out to our boat to bring us ashore for food. The place smelled delicious! There was rice, beans and salad, with my new favourite palmito on it, then roasted potatoes with rosemary and a huge fillet of fresh fish for us all. The guys brought out cervejas and we ate until we could hardly move (or I did at least).
After lunch, it was time to wakeboard! Anna and Stefano were clearly pros and showed off all their tricks. Adam was a rockstar, obviously, and figured it out first try. Showoff. He even had an amazing moment where he jumped a wave, got some pretty good air and then, with all limbs in different directions, crashed into the ocean sideways. Haha! I, on the other hand, am about as good at wake boarding as I am at charades! On the first try alone I sliced a finger on my left hand open and bruised three other knuckles. Great start! By the third try, I almost had it! Then the fourth try I smashed my right hand, thought my left middle finger was broken and had to go back to the boat to ice it. (Even 4 days later I have a good chunk missing from my left hand, my middle finger is twice as wide as the others, and every muscle in my back feels whip lashed). Not that I’m complaining! I had a wonderful time taking photos and one day I will defeat the waves!
After we all had our turns we headed back to the Hotel Mercedes exhausted. Up to the room for naps and quiet time before dinner. Sadly, this was our last evening on the island. This was by far the longest stop we’ve had in one place, and it was wonderful!
If anyone would like to see more photos of the hotel we were at, you can check out the website at www.hotelmercedes.com.br (under accommodations you can click “suite VIP” for pictures of our room).