Florianoplis and Ilha Santa Catarina

Trip Start Nov 29, 2013
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Trip End Nov 29, 2014


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Where I stayed
Greenhouse Hostel

Flag of Brazil  , State of Santa Catarina,
Thursday, December 19, 2013

Beard

Moving on from Paraty, to Florianopolis, Tash and I broke our bus-cherries, as we embarked upon the first of many overnight trips by bus. We'd been anticipating this with excitement but also slight trepidation, as the buses in Brazil are said to be the most uncomfortable across the continent.

Before boarding our bus to Florianopolis, we first had to make the 6 hour journey to São Paulo. The bus ride was fairly smooth and comfortable even stopping off, (what felt like every half hour) on the way to stretch our legs and take in the crisp countryside air.

Where things got a little worrying and anxious was when our bus hadn't reached São Paulo a full hour after its estimated arrival time of 19:20.

Normally, this wouldn't have been a problem but with our connecting bus leaving São Paulo at 21:00 it didn't leave much time for error, as we still had to pick up tickets on arrival.

Out of nowhere, we'd turned off the motorway into a bus terminal. A quick glance at our watches, we calculated that we had enough time to pick up our bus tickets for the next leg and make our bus.

At the ticket desk, I smiled at the lady behind the glass, took a breath and announced, "tenho um bilhete electronics", translating to, "I have an e-ticket", whilst showing her my phone with said e-ticket illuminated.

Not only did this induce a smatter of laughter from people in the cue, but 3 of the girls behind the desk, including the lady I'd addressed, all broke out into hysterics, without even trying to hide their tickled ribs. Language is really not my forte.

Once the ladies behind the desk had picked themselves off the floor and had began to restore some sort of order, a quizzical look had replaced the child-like snigger on the girl sat before me.

We had tickets, but in my online haste I'd booked two tickets for Florianopolis to São Paulo...

"You dick", I muttered to myself hoping no-one would hear. Tash was leaning in asking what the hold up was in her broken Spanish, still not realising the balls-up that I'd made.

I continued to smile, hoping that my facial expression would somehow put right the stupid mistake I'd made. We had only 15 minutes left before our bus to Florianopolis left São Paulo, but we had no tickets or seats!!

Luckily, you'll be pleased to read, a Supervisor bowled off, clicked the mouse a few times, looked me up and down, tutted, and then produced two, pristine tickets for the next bus to Florianopolis leaving in 14 minutes. Phew! All this with no addition cost either, good lad!

Leaving the rain of Paraty behind we were treated to continuous sunshine throughout our stay in Florinaopolis.

We based ourselves at The Greenhouse Hostel, in Campeche, a tranquil lodging with a outdoor swimming pool, pleasant staff, a huge kitchen and terraces around the whole building which created a breeze throughout the entire hostel.

It's the little things that matter at hostels I find and GH was no different. Next to the fridge full of beers there's a pen and piece of paper. The hostel simple request your honesty; if you take a beer write it down and you can pay for it when you check-out. Whether this is the norm in SA I don't know, but it was pleasant surprise here.

Our penchant for meeting friendly Germans continued at the GH. Tiphaine, a guy from Berlin who'd been in SA for a few months, was in the same dorm as us and he suggested we all go sand-boarding one day.

As well as jungle for treks, 42 white sand beaches, a couple of crystal clear lagoons, a surf good enough for the pro's, Florianopolis is awesome for sand-boarding.

The beach of Joaquin is the site of Florianopolis' famous activity, which isn't too dissimilar in technique to snow-boarding. At Joaquin, you're confronted with a vast, towering dune where sandboards are easily rented at the bottom.

It's a simple process strapping your feet into the board, leaving enough slack so that you can slip ur feet out when you fall; an inevitability. At the top you weigh up how brave you feel as there are various routes of ranging difficulty, to reach the bottom of the dune.

The 3 of us decided to get a feel for the least steep slope first, which surprisingly was fairly straight forward. Tash and Tiphaine were quick to pick it up, getting down in style and pretty quickly too.

After a few goes though, we were all zipping down, the only drawback being having to walk back up, lugging your board in the blistering heat. A full, completed run down the dune was pretty buzzing. The element of danger is enough to get the blood and adrenaline pumping, think sledging in Winter as a kid, and you'll get the idea.

We got comfortable, we got confident, some of us got cocky. As we'd moved onto the more treacherous part of the dune, our German friend
was at ease shooting videos whilst making his dignified descends, and I could see the daredevil look in Tasha's eyes swell and boil. Even after taking a few fairly heavy falls she wasn't put off and proceeded to dust herself down, but all living things have their breaking point.

As I walked back up the dune, I heard a shreek of excitement from Tash as she left the precipice of the dune and began yet another careening descent, like a fearless child who'd eaten too much jelly and ice-cream. As she drew level with me, it all went wrong. I guess her balance was off, putting too much weight on the front of the board, as the nose wedged deep into the sand.

The big problem was that because she was flying down the dune so quickly she was the flung high into the air, forced to use her forehead as her solitary brake. Ouch! Pulling her face out of the sand, like some sort of drunken ostrich, uncontrollably spitting sand in all directions, she borne no injuries, just wounded pride.

On closer inspection, her foot was swollen so she decided to sit out the rest of the session, dose herself in water and smoke a well earned cigarette or two. I decided not to mention that nicotine isn't the appropriate remedy for shock, I can't imagine this would have gone down too well.

There's no pictorial evidence of Tash's fall from grace, but this clip from a cult children's TV show, isn't far off:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SAe0vUgjP0E&sns=em

3 days later, she's still picking the sand out of her nose and ears.

Aside from the beautiful beaches of Joaquin, Campeche and Barra da Lagoa the Lagoa da Conceicao is a natural Lagoon which is ideal for swimming.

Up from the Lagoon and with little recognition in the guide books are a series of sand-dunes. These dunes don't require a board, much to Tash's relief, but are easily accessed by foot. Just a few minutes walk take you away from the sand and shore and into a world that looks like a scene from Return of the Jedi. The views of the surrounding beaches and lagoon are spectacular.

On one trip back from the beach we heard a rustle in the bush. It was a fairly residential setting, so we weren't expecting much in the way of wildlife. All of sudden, a lizard about 1m in length fled from the bush we were stood next to and darted into adjacent greenery. Another startling reminder of the creatures and nature that's so accessible to visitors of this country.

With Xmas fast approaching, we've not really been in the festive season. Christmas dinners, work parties and carols are alien to us both at the moment. One recurring image that reminds us both of the time of year are the quirky, inventive Xmas tress that the Brazilians create. Forget the traditional evergreen, over here it's old bottles of wine arranged in a cone shape, with tinsel and lights as decorations.

So, after 3 weeks we say goodbye to sandy beaches for a while, as we head north-west to Foz do Iguasu.

Caio caio

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