Published: January 12th 2009December 30th 2008
New Year can be a stressful time for most people, the eternal decision of where to spend your moment singing 'Auld lang syne' can burn the brain a bit. However most people choose to spend it with friends, people that mean the most and in areas that are familiar to them. Well these two parameters were not available to us and we decided to embrace the Brazilian style and vibe, getting down with the Sambaites on their turf. Shake the hips central, next stop 2009.
We sensibly decided to make the journey from Torres on the 30th of December, leaving sometime for settling into the hostel and to get to know our fellow party people. However the thing that was not the most sensible was carrying surfboard/bodyboard/wetsuit etc around the world and trying to use the local public transport. Up until now the luggage had only been a slight gripe between myself and the sort tempered one (OOOOhhhhh I love it when she is angry). But I had to agree with Em when she mentioned that the two local buses that we had to take from Floripa, would have been far easier to attempt without the damn surfboard. It makes
for a bigger challenge when all buses except for the international ones have turn styles on them for you to cross as the point of payment - thanks Brazil government. As you squeeze through it makes you feel like Dunc when he tries to ease himself into his cricket trousers that fitted him when he was thirteen - Breath in Bruv.
We arrived after much torment at our digs on the South Coast of Santa Catarina, the capital is called Floripanopolis (Floripa for short) and is a bustling city in the middle of the peninsula. Most of the country look at this region as containing some of the most attractive beaches and flock to it around the summer to strip off and compete to wear the most minute pieces of clothes possible. Put it this way, if you owned a bike around here you would not have a problem parking it, they probably would not charge you either - eh!! So our place was right on the beach in the South of the Island called Pantano do Sul. It is usually a quaint fishing village but as we jumped off the bus and straight into a rather lively funeral
march it seemed that the place was waking from the dead.
The hostel was lovely, owned by a local family with the mum Olga running the show but helped very ably by her offspring of Gabriel, Sophia and Alice. Gabriel turned out to be a mad keen surfer and invited me to join him the next day to head out for the hunt for waves. Our room had an adjoining balcony which we used for our pre evening bevies and to over see the beach from a much more civil perspective. The room was one of the nicest that we had stayed in outside of Indo and the atmosphere within the whole place immediately brought us to believe that it would be a great New Year. After having a walk down the beach and getting some food we got down to the task of introducing ourselves to our fellow hostellers, there were some guys from Belgium, Canada, Brazil, Argentina and Australia. Everyone seemed to be up for a good couple of days and it quickly turned out that as the Brazilian guys named Luiz and Luan were here for a short break they were determined not to be sober.
We got some rest on the first night and I woke early for the hunt to begin, waiting for Gabriel to get out of bed took a while until his mum got up and I mimed that we were supposed to be surfing. Any who he got himself into gear quickly and we scouted the island for the best conditions. The swell was small but over the next five days it was predicted that a storm was arriving, bringing bigger waves. The highlight was the fact that the sun was out and we had chosen to surf a wave that was about 3-4ft. As only a handful of guys were out there seemed to be a very chilled out vibe for the whole affair. After an hour we were treated to what I can only describe as the most exhilarating natural experience that I have had the pleasure to witness. No Dunc it was not when the wind blows and some girl changing drops her towel - please. It was an artistic display of aquatic brilliance by a family of dolphins. Three adult and one calf swam closer into the shore until they were about 1-2m away from us,
as we had seen dolphins almost everyday in Australia it was not a fear enduing sight. But over the next 45min period they started to frolic and play, first amongst themselves and then progressing to the breaking waves and then with us when we decided to catch the swell around. It was mind blowing, take the way that you feel when you look at your loved ones, put it into a ball containing high levels of excitement and then insert an atom bomb, this is only close to the way that each person felt. It got to the point where a crowd had gathered on the beach to watch the spectacle. You would take off on the wave and then the dolphin would ride the same wave only that they would do it with far more style and grace. For their finale they decided to all swim through one of the larger waves and then one of the adult dolphin reversed and exited the water, displaying all of his sleek, grey body and thunderously splashed back into the water. It resembled a triumphant conclusion to their performance, almost as if they were goading us to try and beat it in
some way. The next wave I tried to out do them but got my feet caught within my leash and tripped myself up and head butted the surfboard on the way down - HA! dolphin can´t do that can you.
After arriving back at the hostel we caught some brekkie, spoke of the forthcoming nightly entertainment and then took periodic walks down the beautiful white sands that marked the beach for about 5km. Gabriel had informed us of a waterfall that we could walk to so we decided to have a stroll down to it, once we had climbed over rocks and through bush we could finally hear the running water. The only problem is that we could not see how we could reach it, so with little Portuguese we asked where it was and a lady who was gutting fish with a knife larger than Mick Dundee´s we were pointed in the direction of some overgrown, tropical bush. Before we had the opportunity to stumble into the area the lady repeated some word that brought a cold sweat and panic to both Em and I. What would you think if someone welding a machete said´Mas Grande´...........´Cobra´. Exsqueezzzzmeeee, what
did you say old lady, that there might be some large snake action within these woods (I told Luiz this story later in the day and all he could reply was that ´If she wanted a large snake then she should have asked me - thanks Luiz). The lady then calmed us slightly with the advice that if we carried a stick then the snake would be slightly scared and then depart our predetermined path. As you can imagine our confidence around most animals has increased with the time that we have traveled but to introduce yourself into a pit of seething cobras with not even a twinkle of Ant and Dec would be pure madness. So we took the only option and that was to enjoy the falls at a distance and only marvel at what they would have looked like.
Once we arrived back it was obvious that the NYE celebrations had started and we would be playing catch up. So with the pride of our nation placed firmly on our shoulders we took up the challenge and got stuck in, with the mix of languages, nationalities and capirinha it made for a great vibe. We were
treated to a dinner from the hostel owners and then went back to the business in hand. Later into the evening we decided to join the growing throng of people on the beach. With the bangs and whistles of fireworks going off merrily we mixed in well, having samba lessons from the locals and chilling with our new found friends. At 12.00 the music was cranked up, the only problem was that the local guys had brought their cars onto the beach and each one had a very different taste in music, some samba, reggae and hard core dance. Em and I opted for 'Old Acquaintance' rendition, treating everyone to a little Welsh stomp.
NYD was a little less hectic than the night previous, we opted to take a few slow walks on the beach and siesta the rest of the day away. All people involved were feeling a little worse for wear but the banter about the exploits made it for a fun day anyway.
There was a storm brewing, no it was not because I left the toilet seat up, but a real storm. The kind where you run for cover, trying not to get wet,
a little like Bob Carolgies (spit the dog fame). As sun bathing was out of the question we opted to take a trip into Floripa, the capital of the island. It was cool as we found an 'all you can eat' buffet and caught a larger supermarket for more fodder. It did however mean that when we returned the swell had increased and a little wave was had. If you are in a beach town and the sun is not out then you have to get some wet weather plans, well courtesy of the Brazilian guys theirs was to crack open another cold one and chat the night away. We met some really cool English guys called Chris and Lucy who had just arrived and before the end of the night we were in a local samba bar being taught exactly what we should be doing in the hip department. Well too be honest I think that i taught them a thing or two about dancing, introducing them to the shoulder roll and bump, it will be doing the rounds in the local clubs for years me thinks. To be honest I think that the one guy actually lost his
ribs after laughing so hard watching me being instructed by Luan, his hands on my hips and getting to count the beat, who needs the beat eh?
The next day was a stormy affair also, the storm had actually been classified as a hurricane, but it meant for a great surf earlier in the morning. The rest of the day was spent chatting away with Chris and Lucy and getting to know a few things about tropical weather. At one point the winds hit over 110kph and the rain was causing the roof to leak. We thought that our hosts had left us in the house while they had run to safety but we were relieved when they popped out their heads.
With the storm blown through the sun decided to play ball and appear on our last day. We only had enough time to take a walk down the beach and chill in the surf for a short while before having to move on. We had booked tickets previously and planned to take the overnight bus to Foz for 14hrs, so mentally preparing ourselves on the local bus into town was hard but with the fantastic memories
that we had of the people, place and events made it pill that was easily swallowed.
There are more photos below