Day 20: Itecare
I only intended on staying in Itecare for at most two or three days, and ended up staying for nearly two weeks.
In that space of time, the hostel swelled full of people and it felt like one big family. Cam and Sam had joined us from Salvador. Then three of the Israelis decided to check into my hostel to be closer to all the fun. Cyril, a French student doing a university year abroad in Rio de Janeiro came up for two weeks. Then there was Meg, the Aussie in her mid twenties volunteering at the local primary school.
'The first time I came here, I only planned to visit for ten days. I stayed for one month,' said Cyril. 'Itecare is the kind of place where you always stay for longer than you planned,' he continued.
I could see what he meant. There was an easy-going nature about the place. As a tourist, you didn't get hassled by street hawkers trying to flog their goods. People smiled at you as you walked past on the street. The occasional person would wave in friendly greeting as they drove past. Even the dogs trotted along the streets sedately. Everyone was so laid back they were practically falling backwards.
A big group of us were drinking at one of the open air bars in the evening after a hectic day of lazing on the beach, interspersed with the occasional walk up to the beach bar to grab some snacks.
'Come to Morro de Sao Paulo with us,' one of the Israelis asked suddenly while we were discussing our travel plans.
I smiled a little. This situation reminded me of a time just a few weeks ago in Rio, when my travelling buddies at the time suddenly asked me to travel with them to Argentina. I turned them down, not out of choice, but because I had just bought my ticket up to Salvador. It was a decision I deeply regretted for some time.
Although everything had worked out well in the end and I was now having the time of my life up in Itecare, the first few days up in Salvador immediately after Rio were lonely, and I was all set to fly down to Buenos Aires on an expensive one-way flight to join them, when I randomly got invited by a couple to Itecare.
I deliberately didn't have a specific travel itinerary, instead preferring to be completely spontaneous. Logically, Morro de Sao Paulo logically would be my next destination anyway, so why not travel there with these crazy Israelis?
'OK,' I paused, pretending to deeply think about the matter. 'I'll come with you guys.'
They high-fived each other, thumped the table and ordered more drinks.