Learn,  Lift,  Travel

Sabbatical #4 & #5: Ilha Grande

The past two weeks have gone by so quickly. The holidays are approaching, or looming, whichever you prefer. 

I began last weekend with a trip to Saara with my partner’s mother. Saara is a market in the center of Rio with a variety of stalls, specialty shops, restaurants, and so on. (I even found a place that sells bubble tea — FINALLY.) It gets very crowded in the afternoon, especially before Christmas, so we decided to visit first thing in the morning, first weekend of the month.

It’s in a more historic part of the city, so the architecture is something to look at. I always struggle with sightseeing in Rio because I feel like I have to pay attention to everything going on around me and that “everything” is always happening in a big bubble of chaos. People yelling. Pedestrians coming from all angles. Cars coming from all angles. Food smells. Questions from salespeople. Shops here, there, and in the middle of the road. Uneven cobblestones. I never know where to look first.

Afterwards, I began my first day of programming with Strong Strong Friends. I’ve written about how much I adore Meg Squats, and on Black Friday she posted a sale for her coaching services. It wasn’t on my radar at the time, but I’ve been wanting to work with her for ages and when the opportunity presented itself, I decided to go for it. So far, it’s been challenging — I asked to focus specifically on my upper body strength (pull-ups, bench, overhead press, etc.) since that’s my weakest area, but without losing any lower body strength. There’s a lot of volume when it comes to chest, back, and biceps, but that means that when I do squats and deadlifts, it’s heavy.

So far, I’ve been coupling the workouts with the WODs at my new gym, TechBox. There’s a bunch of other people training for the Double IG competition in January there, so the workouts are geared towards the skills and endurance needed for the event. I’ve never dedicated so much time to my skills as an athlete before, and it’s interesting to see how my approach is changing as I often do two workouts in a day.

Sunday night, I received a reiki attunement as part of the reiki course I’m taking. I’ve currently graduated as a Reiki Level I student, but I’m working on Reiki Level II currently. During the attunement, I primarily felt a sense of calm, some tickling energy, and a few emotional images popped into my mind. In the days since, I’ve been battling a cold, which is often listed as part of the detox process. Whether or not that’s the source, I’ve been enjoying the ritual of adding reiki and yoga to my mornings as a way to start my day with conscious intention.

Yoga on the island
Doing some yoga after our lunch break.

Over the weekend, Gustavo and I took a trip to Ilha Grande, an island off the coast of Brazil, about three hours away from Rio de Janeiro. I’ve wanted to visit for quite some time since everyone who’s spoken to me about it raves about how beautiful it is there. So despite my inclinations towards sea sickness, I popped some Dramamine and got on the bus — then boat — to visit the island for a long weekend.

We did the Meia Volta, a boat tour halfway around the island.

While the visit started off rainy, the following three days were perfect. We spent Saturday on a boat, visiting various beaches on the island. We left at about noon, first stopping at Lagoa Verde and Lagoa Azul, two beaches lodged in between smaller islands. The water was a bright blue and clear, albeit too cold for my taste. (The water near Rio is always way too cold, especially considering how hot it gets here in the summer!)

We then stopped for lunch where I got freaked out by the shrimp we were eating. As a new pescatarian, I’m still not used to a lot of fish and am continuing to learn what I like, and don’t. Shrimp in the full-form? Nope, can’t do it. I ended up filling myself with rice and beans, plus a tasty açai. After two more beaches and the boat trip home, we ate at a barbecue restaurant for a tasty dinner filled with cold, cold, cold beer and me sneaking pieces of my dinner to one of the many stray dogs on the island.

This photo is completely unedited. So much natural beauty.

We both agree that Sunday was the perfect day. We started early by filming one of my yoga sessions, grabbed a bite at the hotel, and then began hiking. The original plan was to hike all the way to the Witch’s Waterfall (Cachoeira da Feiticeira), but we stopped a little bit after the historic aqueduct in Ilha Grande. The hike was easy — and there was only one snake sighting this time — but as we continued on to the waterfall, the trail got smaller and smaller, and more and more deserted. We decided to head back to one of the beaches instead to soak in some of the sun before grabbing lunch at Atelie Cafeteria, one of the best places we ate. They had an amazing quinoa burger, a very kind and attentive waitress, and extremely affordable prices.


On the last day, we tried to hike from Abraão, the main part of the island, to Abraãozinho, a small beach to the east. Unfortunately, halfway through the trail, someone built a house and there wasn’t a great way to get around it. Instead, we walked back to Praia da Julia, hung out with a few pups, and then had the slowest lunch ever before grabbing the boat back to Jacarei. It was a long, sun-filled weekend and a break from the city that I think we both needed.

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