We set the alarm for 7am, but woke 15 minutes earlier. We are off on an excursion to Ilheus this morning, hence the early start to ensure breakfast was securely inside before we left the ship.
The boat docked as we ate and afterwards we made our way to the meeting station for a 9am start (as the brochure predicted). Due to the vageries of Italian schedulling we left the boat to get on the bus at 9.50am (worse was to come).
On the bus our escort/guide informed us that she would be translating into English and German as we had a mixture of passengers. First port of call was Ilheus town centre and a wander around a few of the streets and a visit to the church. At the church a problem became apparent. Not only were we a mixture of nationalities but also a mixture of tours. We had booked a city tour, a waterfall visit and swim, a cocoa plantation tour and a visit to see the sloths. Others had booked a mixture of the above. The Germans were not happy. After a lot of hanging around and phone calls back to base, it was decided (by someone) that they would follow our itinerary. Those who had booked a shorter and less inclusive tour were most probably delighted and we were glad that our trip was not to be foreshortened.
Next stop was the waterfall. Beautiful place, though the walk down to it through the rainforest was a bit tricky for some of the elder members of the party (particularly as they had not chosen this one). I put on my trunks and swam under the falls and Sue paddled around the edges cooling her feet. The water was refreshing and a great relief to be out of the heat and humidity. I swam for around 40 minutes then changed. We found a table at the restaurant and sat in the shade and had drinks. We were joined by the couple from Dorset who shared our evening dinner table. It was a bit of a drag back up the track back to the bus, we were glad of the airconditioning that awaited us.
Our next port of call was a cocoa plantation. I think this was rather shortened, but as Sue and I already knew the process of bean to powder it was nice to see where it took place, and we did have an opportunity to sample some raw, fermented and dried beans (not a patch on a Galaxy bar!). At the very end we did sample some proper chocolate (very dark, very moreish).
A short ride followed to see the sloths. They were injured ones that were being rehabilitated and would eventually be released back into the wild. There were quite a few sleepng upside down in a large cage, but became slowly animated as they woke and discovered our presence. What enchanting creatures. They must rate on the same level as Dusky Langhurs as beeing so sweet you could cuddle them. We were treated to a couple that were brought out by the owner of the sanctuary for us to touch and photograph. Their hair is so soft and their faces so placid you can’t help but fall in love with them.
On the way back we had a short stop back in Ilheus to shop, but as it turned out we were so late getting back we only had 15 minutes (Sue did manage to buy a hat). Our schedulled 6.5 hour excursion ended up being 8 hours and we were in danger of missing the ship’s embarkation.
As soon as we were on board we had a coffee and a slice of pizza from one of the restaurants. Half an hour later we were changed, showered and in the main restaurant tackling dinner with our usual dining companions. The entertainment that evening in the theatre was an energetic song and dance troupe from Bahria. They were similar to Cuban dancers, but I am afraid their culture is beyond me. But then so was Balinese finger dancing and Hindu contortionists. An experience all the same and pleasurable, but I won’t be nuying the DVD.