By Ricky Skelton
Itabuna is one of those towns that everybody who travels finds themselves staying in occasionally. When the journey doesn’t go as planned due to missed connections, you can’t do as many miles as you’d hoped and end up arriving late in a small town that you’ve never heard of before, and neither has your guide book. You want to leave first thing in the morning, so find the ‘hotel’ nearest to the station. These hotels are the same the world over – Brazil, Guatemala, India, Sweden even: quiet, empty, probably looked dilapidated when they were opened, and a sad-looking man with a moustache wearing an off-white vest serves you if he can tear himself away from his black and white portable TV for long enough. The walls are grey and have bullet holes, the bathroom is a mosquito graveyard, the cockroaches roam free, and you have second thoughts about lying on that mattress. Still, it’s only for five hours.

Some places you like immediately, solely because of your journey there. The boat ride to Morro de São Paulo, leaving the mainland and a huge black cloud behind us and driving through the reflection of the morning sun, was just one of these journeys. The channels to Ilha de Tinhar are tree-lined until you see the coloured cliffs of the island. We were handed flyers for a full moon party on the beach of the first village. Sometimes it comes together for you without any effort.

The boat lands at the old fort gateway, and island taxis can take your bags up the hill to the village. There are only sandy roads on the island and very few vehicles, so the locals paint their wheelbarrows black and yellow and have ‘Taxi’ on the side. They may even take you too if you pay enough.

Morro de São Paulo has a certain barefoot charm about it. You can stay in a pousada right on one of the beaches, which are helpfully numbered so you don’t get lost at night. The beaches increase in size, and decrease in population density as you count upwards. Great for walking miles alone along the edge of the sea. You can surf on One or sit and watch fish without even a snorkel on Two. The water can be like glass. Tours take you around the islands to deserted beaches, and to rock pools where you can see fish, crabs, turtles, and a Brazilian tourist breaking off coral for souvenirs. I wish I’d drowned him. It would have been easier than trying to say ‘It never grows back you know!’ in indignant Portuguese.

The strangest sight of the island though was on our first day there as the sun went down. We saw a huge red thing climbing out of the sea.

What’s that?”
“Dunno. Oh! It’s the moon!”

She rose slowly, leaving a v-shaped reflection pointing to my toes, becoming less red and shining more brightly as she went. I never knew a lady of that age, that big, and with huge craters all over her face could look so beautiful. It put us in a perfect mood for the boat ride to Gamboa for the party in her honour.

But it wasn’t how a full moon party should be. We had to pay to listen to the DJ with the worst name in the world – DJ Pornstar Deluxe – without even a view of the sea. Ive never seen anything so ridiculous as a beach party with a fence all around it.

We plagued him all night to change the music, but the only change was in the colour of Barnoldinho’s shoulder. A huge wooden totem pole fell on top of him as he was complaining to Pornstar. Some sort of devine retribution probably.

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Previous articles by Ricky:

Understanding Brazil: The Workmen
Around Brazil: Praa Pateo do Colegio
Around Brazil: Porto Seguro
Around Brazil: Rio de Janeiro to Porto Seguro
Around Brazil: Cristo Redentor
Understanding Brazil: The Sellers
Around Brazil: Ilha de Gigoia
Brazil Journeys: São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro
Understanding Brazil: Dogs Part 2
Brazil: A Lie-In in Downtown São Paulo?
The Best Job in Brazil: Ankle Specialist?
Understanding Brazil: Dogs
Brazilian Places: Ilha do Santa Catarina (Floripa)
Classic Brazilian Journeys: South to Florianopolis
Understanding Brazil – The Shower
Brazil: Boats on the Amazon
Brazil: Understanding Novelas
Brazil: Bus fires in São Paulo – always a bad thing?

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