Between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro lie some of the most fabulous coastline views on Earth – (including that “Twilight” honeymoon spot)
Brazil (Alternate Take) – Antônio Carlos Jobim
It’s always fun when a movie shows you some impressive, exotic location and you realize “Wait, I recognize that place, we’ve been there!” ( Of course it’s even better when you can go “Wait, I know that place, I live there!”) Such was the case when Ed and I popped the wedding video of the Twilight series, Breaking Dawn Part 1, into the DVD player. The secret island honeymoon getaway for glamorous eternally teenage vampire Edward and his winsome bride Bella had a natural coastline character that we recognized as undeniably Brazilian. A little internet digging revealed that the vacation resort Hollywood rented to stand in for the island hideaway responsible for bed-busting and feather-flying vampire-on-human deflowering was an exclusive holiday rental called Casa em Paraty.
Casa em Paraty is actually not on an island, as suggested by the movie, but along the shore of a lagoon that points deeply inland like a large maritime index finger, south of the town of Paraty along the coastline between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Ed and I explored this same coastline for several days during the first days of our first tour of Brazil together in 2012. It is a fantastically evocative landscape, with verdant mountains undulating to one side, and green islands protruding out of the waters like forested bubbles.
We drove from São Paulo over a mountain road towards the coast. Our first view of the coastline was of the city of Caraguatuba below and the island of Ihlabela across the straight.
Ilhabela is very popular with Paulistas (São Paulo city dwellers) during the summer holidays. But we arrived in August, which is winter in Brazil, so we practically had the island to ourselves.
Ilhabela was formed by volcanoes. The long cooled top of the main volcano dominates the center of the island.
Many exotic plants would capture our camera’s eye. I’ll share just one plant picture, this particularly beautiful banana tree. The banana berries (yes, bananas are members of the berry family of fruits) are bunched like a crown atop, while the massive flower hangs pendulous and heavy below.
Ed and I would also take countless pictures of the countless bird species we’d encounter (OK, enough, or count me out!). I’ve already shared pictures of the eagles, parrots, toucans and the incredible Tuiuius we saw later in the Pantanal.
However the birds that dominate Brazil’s landscape more ubiquitously than any other are the vultures. We would see them all over Brazil. And this picture capturing a vulture in its full Far-Side like essence was one of the first we took on the island of Ihlabela. A few more unexpected vulture sightings would will be included later in this piece. But let me just reiterate, just because I didn’t include vulture pics in the other Brazil posts on this blog doesn’t mean we didn’t see them all over, flying around the Sugarloaf, in the Amazon, the Lençoís, everywhere.
Ilhabela is famous for its many waterfalls. That is Ed hiding behind the curtain spray of one of them. Further downstream of that fall the waters created a natural water slide, scooping out a track through the stones. That’s Ed at right zooming down …
… and being deposited into the pond below. It was a fast and bumpy ride. It’s not like nature scooped out a perfectly smooth and safe path in the hard rock following the safety regulations of US water parks. Both Ed and I wound up with a few scrapes and bruises. But no regrets, it was wild and fun.