Published: March 9th 2008February 19th 2008
Imagine this...a huge tropical island off the Southern coast of Brazil. This island is encircled by massive, green mountains full of exotic flora and fauna. Surrounding the island are 42 beautiful beaches, one for every person´s taste. On the east side of the island is a crystal clear lake, big enough for every kind of watersport imaginable, or for just relaxing in the knee deep water that seems to go on forever. The only things separating this lake from the Atlantic Ocean are huge rolling sand dunes with warm, oasis-like pools and lush pine trees.
This is Florianopolis. More accurately Ilha Santa Catarina and most people head straight to the paradisical town of Lagoa, so named because it surrounds the lake that I just described.
We stayed at a wonderful hostel (Tucano House if you´re heading there) about a block from the lake and a 15 minute walk to the beach. The amazing hostel owners, siblings Cao and Lila, couldn´t have been older than 23 or 24, but they were so friendly and knowledgable about the island. Since we did not speak a word of Portugese, they helped book buses and hostels for the remainder of our Brazil trip.
I can fly!
Playing in the sand dunes on the way to Praia Joaquina
On the matter of Portugese, hardly any of the travelers that pass through Brazil speak it. We, like many others, have spent months in the surrounding Spanish-speaking countries trying to perfect our Spanish. So when it came time to learn Portugese, we hate to say it, but like everyone else that met, we kinda just said "forget it." We thought we might do alright with Portugese, as it looks very similar to Spanish on paper. Wrong. While it looks similar, the pronunciations are way different. Many people think Portugese is a beautiful language, but we kind of thought it just sounded like a silly version of Spanish (we are bias). We could not even begin to pronounce some of the sounds. Just to illustrate how complicated Portugese is, the word for "no", is "nao", pronounced "nowng." We spent 3 weeks in Brazil and learned 3 words (the obvious yes, no, and thank you)--that´s a word a week for those of you keeping track.
After spending 30 hours on a bus from Buenos Aires breathing recycled air that smelled kind of like a recently cleaned gas station bathroom, the salty breeze coming off the Atlantic Ocean was the most
Beautiful, calm water...plenty of speedos
amazing scent in the world. We spent every day going to a different beach with a different vibe. Sunning ourselves, swimming in crystal clear water, eating refreshing acai and melted cheese on a stick was just what we needed. After all, our lives are so very difficult. Day after day, we ask ourselves the tough question...What shall we do today?
Our first beach was Praia Mole. This is the beach where all the beautiful people supposedly go. We were afraid that we would not be granted access due to my overwhelming amount of body hair. To our surprise, we had no problems. Brazilians are so nice, and not so shallow (everyone is in a thong or speedo, no matter what size or shape or amount of body hair). It was at Praia Mole that we tried our first Acai com Granola. For those of you who don´t know what acai is (it´s available in a lot of places in the States), it is a tropical fruit from Northern Brazil. It has a taste somewhere in between a blueberry and a cherry. They freeze it, throw it in a blender and top it with granola, banana, and honey. Amazing and
Midway through our grueling hike
so refreshing, perfect for a hot day on the beach.
The next day, we hiked through the sand dunes and their many warm pools and pine forest to Praia Joaquina. Praia Joaquina is more family oriented with perfect sand and calmer, clearer waters. It was here that we tried our first cheese on a stick. Pretty self explanatory. Pretty genius. Why don´t we have this in the States? These guys walk around the beach with a huge tub of cheese on a stick in one hand and a portable grill in the other. They cook it till its soft and crispy and cover it with delicious seasoning. The cheese would prove to be so addicting, that I would have to give up my dream of properly fitting into a Brazilian speedo.
Our final and favorite beach outing took us to Lagoinha del este on the south side of the island. Santa Catarina is a very big island--we took an hour and a half bus just to get to trail head. The journey to Lagoinha was described to us by our hostel´s owner as a nice walk. More accurately put, it was a climb; we were either walking straight
Lagoinha del este
Extremely hot and sketchy 2 hour hike to get here...but it was worth it
up or straight down over rocks the entire way. Drenched in sweat, we finally arrived to a magnificent, nearly deserted (except for the topless woman who decided to sit 20 feet away from us) stretch of picture perfect beach. We spent all day there and spent virtually no money, the perfect day for a backpacker.
Sad to say goodbye to our island paradise of Floripa, we hopped on an 18 hour bus to one of the most famous, exotic, and alluring cities in the world. We heard so many different stories, some good, some bad, that we had no idea what to expect. Rio de Janiero here we come.
There are more photos below