We've got the Azorean Spirit (how 'bout you?)

Trip Start Oct 09, 2008
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Flag of Brazil  , State of Santa Catarina,
Friday, November 14, 2008

If I had to pick a place to live in Brazil, it would undoubtedly be Florianopolis (or "Floripa" for short). As if reading my mind, VEJA magazine, a Brazilian publication, actually named Florianopolis "the best place to live in Brazil." An island with 42 beautiful beaches, dominated by surf culture, originally settled by the Portuguese, there is now also a heavy German and Italian influence. I could really see myself spending an extended period of time here.

Fortunately, we had three beautiful, sunny days here before the rains came. Our arrival coincided with the grand opening party of superclub Pacha in the posh northern beach of Jurere, which was a collection of the most beautiful people I may have ever seen in one room together. During the daytime, I surfed Praia Mole (which periodically hosts the WCT surfing championships) while Mikeo marched up and down the beach inspecting thong bikinis.

We found an excellent sushi restaurant in Lagoa that had an all-you-can eat deal for about US$20. By the time we were ordering our seventh or eighth round the staff could no longer hide their looks of disbelief (or was it disgust?). Later, at a bar with a live band covering Brazilian pop songs, we met Carlos - a local from Florianopolis who looked like Javier Bardem, with a backwards beret and a Che Guevara beard. There was something earnest and strong and humanly hopeful I immediately liked about him. He grew up in Florianopolis but five years ago had accepted a job offer he couldn't refuse in Ireland. At the time, he was very much in love with a Floripa girl and tried to convince her to come to Ireland with him. She balked, he left without her, they tried for a while to make things work long distance, but their relationship eventually fell apart. Carlos is back in Brazil visiting for two months. A few days earlier he'd seen his former girlfriend for the first time in five years. She's since had a child with another guy, but this didn't bother Carlos. Now that she was single again, he wanted to give things another shot. But after a few days together, it became clear that old wounds were too hard to overcome, and a heartbroken Carlos--who freely spoke to us about matters of the heart as if we were old friends--was crushed to realize too much had changed and things between them could never work out. We spent the rest of the night talking to Carlos, who told stories about life in Ireland and the contrast between the culture there and the Brazilian culture he had left behind. As we said goodnight after our fourth bar, he invited us to his birthday BBQ at a friend's house the next day, which we gladly took him up on. I plan to look him up if I make it to Ireland next summer.

A couple of days later, the rains came to the coast with high frequency and volume. Floripa without sunshine is not a happy place. So after studying every weather website we could find, we headed inland in search of sunshine.

And the rains would continue to batter the Brazilian coast every day for the next two weeks.

Reading: In A Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson
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