Ipanema is where Catherine found shopping heaven. You are provided with a deck chair and parasol and then sit there whilst the shops come to you. I mean the beach sellers ofcourse. In the course of a morning she bought 3 dresses, 2 kangas, a handbag, some jewellry, drinks, ice creams, pineapple, sandwiches and even had a henna tattoo ! I dont think the beach sellers could believe their luck, they were queuing up for her! And it really wasnt expensive, the dresses were 25 Reals (about 6 quid) It was however very hot. On our return to Rio the skies cleared and the temperature shot up into the 40s. The sun is so fierce there, we spent most of the time in the shade as our fragile northern hemisphere skins just couldnt take very long in direct sunlight.
After a lovely Christmas spent with Anas family we headed south to the island of Isla Grande - which really is paradise on earth. The rainforest runs down to the sea there. Its quite a large island but with a very small town, or village, on it. Just a few Pousadas, some lovely restaurants on the beach - and very persistant mosquitos ! Despite being covered in repellent which melted plastic, and sleeping under a mozzie net, it didnt stop the little buggers there and I ended up with about a dozen bites. Which didnt help my itching problem. But it didnt spoil our stay there either. There isnt a lot to do really except relax and enjoy the peace and swim in the lovely clear water. There are water taxis which take you to isolated beaches around the island, each of which has its own little beach bar so you are never far away from drink or food.
Martin on Isla Grande