South America | Brazil

Ilha Grande / Distracting Convenience

outrunning comfort to create memorable moments

   Little islets lay scattered all around Isla Grande, like handsome debris from a prehistoric collision. The island served as a weekend getaway for weary city folks from Rio and São Paulo who would trade their concrete jungle for a jungle jungle, and as a base for expats and backpackers.

The common interest of the syndicate was of a beachy nature and the island’s sand star, Lopes Mendes, was said to be a stunning specimen. But no bay on Ilha Grande was ugly per se. They were accessible by boat or on foot from the island’s only settlement, the village of Vila do Abraão, where all trails bumped heads.

"Outpacing the convenience of a boat ride back to some snuggly dorm bed was the whole agenda..."

I started my petty conquest of Lopes Mendes on an overcast day. The path was quite strenuous, or maybe I had made it that by carrying my entire hiking backpack. My physical challenges have become shamefully few over the years, so every now and then a not so little voice inside my head urges me to prove I don’t know what to who knows who. The same know-it-all voice manages mental challenges too, so now it stubbornly insisted that I camp out there while completely ignoring the clouds that were brewing a foreboding grey not too far above our head. The laid-back comfort zone felt increasingly compromised by this invader.

Outpacing the convenience of a boat ride back to some snuggly dorm bed was the whole agenda for that day: a micro-challenge rewarded with a big prize: livening up a dull couch-existence where dwelling is all too painless.


Well, to be fair, it wasn't that hard: beautiful beaches hemmed the trail left and right (actually only left on the way in) and all of them were reasonable when they called me to stay. But none of them was Lopes Mendes, so I ignored them.

"Alas, convenience wanted me back in its walls for the same reasons it always does – for all the wrong reasons, distracting us from the bigger picture..."

By the time I got there, the skies cracked open to share their rainy burden with me and even Lopes Mendes had a hard time shining without sun. A bland view onto miles of palms and sand suggested a paradise on better days. “I told you so,” I told the voice, and that convenience had to be reconsidered and renegotiated. “Why?” “Because the wind is wrapping this soaked body in a mean chill, and you might not see this because you’re a voice, but there is a patrolling boat making sure no one camps out, and a girl tripping fiercely on something potent and performing otherworldly rituals while one of her breasts is peaking out of her rags.” Suddenly the endless beach didn’t seem big enough for the two of us.


Alas, convenience wanted me back inside its walls for the same reasons it always does – for all the wrong reasons, distracting us from the bigger picture of hindsight. After all, there were enough palms to shelter me from rain, patrolling boats and a modern-day witch. Was I really going to step onto comfort’s trap door when it was so poorly camouflaged by nothing but shallow excuses? I did. And the camping adventure was forever lost. Not like I think of it every day; but when I do, I scold past-me, pushed around by the blows of winds and anticipations, for having deprived present-me of an experience more interesting than sleeping in a bed. The stale aftertaste of regret lingers long. But maybe a lesson was learned, or relearned, or at least repeated: comfort and convenience are con artists, and their distraction game is strong. The grandest memories hurt a little in the moment.

"Note to self: don’t let yourself get away with your excuses."



That night I spent in a bed I can’t remember for the life of me. Note to self: don’t let yourself get away with your excuses.




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