I picked Bruno up at the entrance to the favela of Jakeira at five o’clock
on a Monday morning. We figured it would take us two hours to drive
along the coast to Manguaratiba, where we would take the ferry to
Ilha Grande. Two and a half hours later, we were sitting, waiting, in a
café across from the docks. Most of our fellow travelers that day were
tourists, a good number of them foreigners. The rest were carrying
supplies for the various hotels, restaurants, and small businesses on
the island. As we waited for the ferry to pull away, Bruno reflected on
the moment, almost twenty years to the day, when he was handcu=ed,
together with eighteen others, in the hold of a prison transport boat.
This time he got to make the journey up on deck, a privilege that was
not lost on him as we slowly approached Vila do Abraão, an hour and
fifteen minutes away from the mainland.
When we reached Vila do Abraão, we asked if there was any way of
getting to Vila de Dois Rios, the site of the former prison. We were
told that a state university truck made the journey a couple of times a
day, but that if we weren’t invited guests, we wouldn’t be allowed to
go along for the ride. After much pleading and begging, including a
fairly pathetic attempt on my part to impress them with my creden-
tials, we realized that we weren’t getting anywhere and decided to rent
bicycles instead.
The distance between Vila do Abraão and Vila de Dois Rios is about
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