I could tell you, but you probably wouldn't believe me. Individually,
aspects of the day aren't that special; combined, I'd say I got at
least a week's worth of excitement today.
I was in Mangaratiba for the ferry to Isla Grande, and I get out on it at 8 a.m. I awake as we pull in around 10:30, beautiful weather and a large green island that supposedly never has more than 10 cars holding the possibility of a waking dream. Surprisingly, going with the person who asks me if I need a pousada as I get off the boat pays off: hammocks, a cheap nice single room, not too far from the beach, and, best of all, still serving a free breakfast buffet.
By a bit after noon, I've checked in, gone to the beach, and rented a kayak for the day. GPS and fond memories of canoeing on the Susquehanna River back home in tow, I'm confident hitting the water alone. I put in a total of 7 miles over the course of the day, going as far as the point of the island where it starts to have exposure to the open sea (vs. the side facing Brazil) before nervously turning back as waves rock my boat intensely enough to make me regret not having worn a life jacket.
Seeing a little island not far from shore, I decide to explore. I'm right next to it, planning where to stash the kayak, when a wave pushes me against the shore's rocks. Thinking this an opportune time to get out, I brilliantly blindly put my right foot into the water and onto a sea urchin (= one of those obnoxious black spiky things). Jumping off of it, I have just enough sense to secure my kayak by lifting it onto a large rock before fretting too much about my boo-boo. That's weird: why is there a dot of blood on the top of my foot, near the base of my tiniest toe? Wow: I think one of the spikes must have actually gone through my whole damn foot. It hurts, but I don't seem to have any chunks of the stupid thing stuck in me, my foot's still functional, and I don't recall sea urchins injecting any poison into you when they bite, so I try not to think about it and get back to getting around this island. Without shoes and wanting a thrill, I make my way around cacti and drops on the boulders of the island's edge. People may have been chilling on here for thousands of years, but,to me today, I'm the first to set foot on it. Needless to say, I like the feeling.
At least several days' worth of excitement is a seaside boulder I stop at because it looks just too climbable to pass up. My dad's instilled a healthy dose of paranoia in me: I don my snorkel to examine the depth of the water in case I have to jump in from falling during climbing / want to jump in from the top. Call me a pussy, but I'm (irrationally) seriously nervous about sharks with cuts on my hands and feet. The water's disconcertingly deep: I can't see the bottom. I'll be OK falling unless I knock myself out on the way, but I'll try not to think about that. I swim to the rock's face, trying to find holds a few times before gaining enough purchase to hoist myself from the water. Damn: this rock's rough to grip. I might as well be climbing crumples sandpaper. It's an easy climb physically, a bit harder psychologically with a mind swimming with "Jaws" and rock grips fatally giving way.
~25 feet up, I think long and hard about whether to jump or try to hike down the side. Maybe I'm unduly paranoid, but the hike pays off. There's a bit of a down climb to start, nothing too crazy but enough intellectual challenge to make up for the missed adrenaline of hurtling through the air. I end up down by the water on the wrong side, thick, possibly cactus-laden plants one way, the water, the rock, and a crack between rock/sea and land that I think I can fit through.
The choice is obvious until I see the spiders. I don't know if they have black widows here, but there are 3 fuckers with bright red on their black abdomens who look like they'd enjoy nothing more than pumping some venom into anyone who messes with their webs. This triggers another think-hard moment: I'd have to go near these to enter mystery tunnel and they may have buddies in the dark, so why not swim or deal with the possible thorns of the bushes?
I guess I took the tunnel because I'd always wonder about what I was missing if I'd taken a more boring path. It pays to adventure: I pass close but not too close by the spider's webs, choosing to contort past rather than attempt to smash. The middle section is just enough water coming under the rock to make me imagine drowning with a sudden freak swell in the tide. Right before I come out the other side, 2 furry things cause me to say "what ARE you?!" for not the first time this trip. They're baby birds of some kind, but the thought of waiting for mama to come back makes me think about how much it would hurt to have my eyes pecked out by one of the many large birds I've seen soaring overhead. That'd be great: under a rock between an angry falcon and weird spiders. I quickly pull myself up past the birdies.
An uneventful few miles' kayak back and I'm safe ashore well before dark. So much for my idea of taking a break from exercise between days with long bike rides...
The rest of the night's 2 dinners and good conversations. I eat spaghetti with "fruits of the sea" sauce by myself then head back to the hostel. Chilling on the hammocks listening to an actual record of the Rolling Stone's "Tattoo You," I strike up a conversation with some British guy right as I'm writing my journal entry for yesterday about getting a bit lonely. I end up at a second dinner with him and 3 people he's met traveling. We talk of travels and anything else we can think of; the Norwegian guy who has ~3 cognacs that are at least 3 shots each is particularly entertaining. My hands and feet are severely cut up from the climb up sandpaper rock and the sea urchin wound still hurts even though I'm half drunk, but today's been packed enough with great things that I really don't care. I know, I know: my descriptive abilities aren't exactly conveying how great it was. Suffice it to say that it won't be so bad to have Alzheimer's 50 years from now if I can read my entries about today and other highlights of my travels and have doing so trigger even just a glimmer of a memory of how great today felt.