04 Feb – 16 Feb
15 hours on a bus from awful Foz, and I was in Florianopolis, what the locals call Floripa. My host had given me a whole list of instructions to get to his place, but getting there was still a challenge. First off, I’d forgotten that Brazilian urban planners like the concept of two different bus terminals – one for internal buses and one for intercity/international buses. Secondly, I was starting to realize that people in Brazil…didn’t speak English (expected). Or Spanish (mildly disconcerting). Or any Portuguese that I could understand (I thought they said Spanish and Portuguese are similar!!!). Thank goodness I had the good sense to write stuff down in my notebook, so I resorted to pointing at various things I had written down, and engaging in wild games of charades. Inefficient, but fun (to put it loosely) way of communication; I also never knew if I was going to arrive at my destination until I actually arrived at my destination. All in good cheer, eh?
I finally managed to arrive at my host, Conrado’s house, and after chatting briefly, I went off to explore. First stop, the beach!
5 minutes from Conrado’s house and absolutely gorgeous. Despite the blistering heat though, the water was too cold and the currents were too strong to swim for too long so I only chilled out there for a while before heading to the lake.
Devoid of wild currents, the lake was a perfect temperature to swim and relax in the water for hours. Absolutely lovely, and I must admit, a little part of me was falling in love with Brazil despite the fiasco in Foz. Anyway, I headed back home, we spent a quiet evening at home.
The next day, I wanted to go to post office to send some postcards, and the nearest post office was in the Lagoa de Conceicão neighborhood. Conrado very kindly loaned me his spare bike, and told me to head north (or was it south?) and that I would reach it in 30min or so. So off I went. Tenet minutes later though, I saw a sign indicating that Lagoa was in the direction I had come from. Thoroughly confused, I asked for directions and found out that I was heading the wrong way (towards downtown) and would have to cycle a long way before reaching Lagoa. Well, I thought, no matter – this way I can see the historic centre downtown, post my postcards, and then drop by Lagoa on my way back. Feeling quite pleased with my plan, I continued the way I was going, stopping to take random photos.
Just short of arriving downtown, something rather unfortunate happened. I was cycling downhill, and turned a corner. Which doesn’t sound horrible but the roads in Floripa have an unfortunate tendency to be dotted with potholes and huge cracks. And since I had just turned a corner, I saw a very large pothole too late to break or avoid it and my front wheel got nicely stuck in it, throwing me off my bike.
I flew for a bit before hitting the road and the only thought that was running through my mind was that I had to get myself and my bike off the road, because not one minute earlier, I had passed a bus at a bus stop, and if the bus driver was anything like the bus drivers I had seen so far, he would not be able to stop in time to avoid running me over once he turned the corner. Fueled by adrenaline, I jumped to my feet, grabbed my bicycle and threw it on the sidewalk before collapsing against the wall, just in time to see the bus turn the corner and come hurtling down the road.
Thankful to be alive, I plopped myself on the ground rather unglamorously and examined my injuries (badly cut up knee, giant scrape across my entire upper arm, a 2 inch scrape on my hip bone, and a couple of other minor cuts and scrapes here and there – they’ve all healed now, and I just have permanent reminders of Floripa) while two passers-by came over to make sure I was alright.
-Kinda gross pics up next, feel free to close your eyes if you’re squeamish-
One of them very kindly got me some water, while the other insisted on calling the ambulance. Honestly. I protested, but they insisted, and eventually the paramedics arrived, poked around my knee to make sure it wasn’t broken, squirted some water on my wounds, advised me to go to the hospital if I felt dizzy or lost consciousness (at least I think that’s what they said) and left me to my own devices. The passers-by who had helped me earlier (and some others, including my host whom the paramedics had called) tried to convince me to leave my bike locked up there and to take a bus back, because it was about 20km back to my host’s house, but I decided to cycle back. It had taken me about an hour and a half to get there, but getting back took almost an hour more. AND I didn’t get to post my postcards -_- Ah well. Back at home, I cleaned out my wounds and spent the rest of the day drifting in and out of sleep.
My thirst for adventure quenched for the time being, I spent the next day lounging around at home, catching up on my reading and sleep. The day after that, it was off to explore again – this time to Naufragados! After navigating the mildly complicated bus system (Floripa has a bus terminal in each neighborhood that serves that neighborhood, but these bus terminals aren’t linked to each other and only converge at the main bus terminal, so sometimes you need to take three or even four buses to get somewhere, which can take upwards of two hours because of the irregular bus schedules), I finally arrived at the start of the trail to Naufragados.
It was an easy enough trek,
but plants kept scratching at my newly formed scabs and the blazing hot sun made everything feel like it was on fire. To add to that, random insects kept landing on my wounds. Yuck.
I arrived at the beach and while it was super gorgeous,
I immediately regretted not bringing along an umbrella to hide from the sun. Thankfully, I managed to find a tiny shaded spot and chilled out there, and eventually headed out in search of the lighthouse on the beach.
A short trek later, I found the lighthouse,
and on the way back, also a dock (I think).
I almost got lost going back,
but I met a nice Brazilian couple who led me back to civilization. Also, ten points to me for managing to have a conversation in Portuñol (weird Spanish-Portuguese hybrid)! The bus ride back was a free ride in a roller coaster (super fun, although a more sensible person would have feared for his life), and I was rather surprised that I had managed to sleep through it on the way there. Back at home, I met Tahnee and Wallace, Conrado’s other Couchsurfers. Really cool Australian (Tahnee)/ Brazilian (Wallace) couple, so we had some really interesting conversations that evening. It was really amusing that Wallace had an Australian accent, which I discovered was because he learned English only after meeting Tahnee.
Anyway, Saturday! Tahnee, Wallace and I set off to Lagoinha do Leste (Conrado had some other stuff to attend). We took a bus to Pantañao do Sul where I decided to trek to Lagoinha do Leste while Wallace and Tahnee decided to take a boat over.
It was a relatively easy trek, and after an hour an a half I was at Lagoinha do Leste.
I found Wallace and Tahnee and we spent a nice few hours frolicking in the sea and the little lake before it started getting cloudy and threatening to rain.
Wallace and Tahnee took the boat back again while I trekked to Praia do Matadeiro. It was a much more difficult trek, with the trail disappearing and splitting into two or three at points such that even after two hours of walking, I still wasn’t sure if I was on the right path.
I was really relieved when I met people coming from the other direction who assured me I was on the right trail.
After finally making it to Praia do Matadeiro,
I took the bus (which was supremely packed) back and got caught in the ridiculous traffic jam, so I only arrived back home a good 2.5hours after I boarded the bus. Back home, I was too tired to do anything much, so it was early to bed for me. Sunday was a day of rest and relaxation (at home) because we all decided that it was far too difficult to navigate the bus schedules to go anywhere.
We spent Monday as well being lazy (I think I was influenced by Wallace and Tahnee who were at the end of their trip and wanted to relax, but not that I was complaining) and headed out in the evening to Santa Antonio, a little remnant of the Portuguese settlement in Floripa.
Really quaint, but there wasn’t much to do, it being a Monday and all. By a stroke of luck, we discovered a little brewery having a special event with delicious home-brewed beers, so that was a lovely end to the evening.
The next couple of days were spent chilling out at the lake and at the beach near Conrado’s house, because it was too hot to do anything else (my scrapes and bruises were also healing, but still painful, so that was my excuse not to do much). We even flew kites at the beach – it was like a trip back in time to my childhood, which I enjoyed very much.
Wallace and Tahnee left the next day, so Conrado and I spent the morning cleaning the house – a very pleasantly rewarding task (something I probably wouldn’t have said about cleaning back in Singapore, but hey that’s why people say travel changes you, right?) Once the house was spick and span, I set out (again) to Lagoa de Conceicão to finally post my postcards. This time, I didn’t get lost and made it to Lagoa without any mishaps.
I took a nice little walk around the town and whiled away the hours quite peacefully, enjoying the lovely weather. That evening, Conrado had the brilliant idea of creating a story/game thing, much like one of those choose-your-own-adventure kinda things. We didn’t get very far with it, and it was a terrible failure, but great fun nonetheless.
To make up for the fabulous weather we had been having, the weather gods decided that there should be a rain day – it was raining almost non-stop the entire next day. That pretty much killed any plans I had (I didn’t), and I stayed indoors, reading and lazing around.
In the evening though, the rain cleared up so we went to get some delicious local delights to end off the day.
Saturday! Weekend! Not that it made much of a difference to me. Emily and Katy, Conrado’s other CouchSurfers arrived, much earlier than expected, so we headed out to have a yummy lunch together. Delish food, as usual (I was really enjoying Brazilian food after far too long of not-very-varied Chilean and Argentinian food) and lovely company – Emily and Katy are from England but work in Chile, and by some strange coincidence, Emily is really good friends with one of my juniors from university! Such a small world.
Conrado knew of a Luau (fancy way of saying beach party) that was happening that evening, so that settled our agenda for that night, my last night in Floripa (I’d decided, a little bit on a whim, to go to São Paulo the next day).
The. Luau was pretty fun, with good electro music, but not many people turned up, probably because of the slightly crappy weather – it started raining on our way there and kept raining on and off the whole night. Still, it was a nice way to end my stay in Floripa.
The next day, after a late lunch, I headed out to catch my bus to São Paulo, and with that, it was onwards to new adventures!