Intending to spend the summer traveling and surfing South America; my first stop was in Florianopolis, Brazil. How can you go wrong on the magical island of Santa Catarina, I thought. And then I packed my bag full of shorts and flip flops for my July trip to southern Brazil. That’s one way to mess up! In retrospect, I guess I felt regardless of location or time of year; Brazil meant bikinis and flip flops… after all, it’s BRAZIL!!!
The plan was to volunteer at a wellness project during the mornings and surf the afternoons, but I threw that out the window quickly after realizing that this FOR-Profit project expected volunteers to not only work longer hours and more days of the week than advertised, but we were expected to spend our free time listening to preachy, flowery, long-winded and at times, incoherent speeches about energy, love and respect from 2 wealthy guys with essentially, no life experience. They quite clearly wanted to be the center of attention and paraded around overly confident to a fault… they actually believe that they are here to lead their flock of lost sheep into the praised paradise of their philosophy. Critical thinking and individualism are not welcome.
Within a week of arriving in Brazil, I parted ways with the narcissistic pseudo sheep herders and found a very cool, friendly and fun hostel to volunteer at. What a difference that made! I stayed just over a month with the Submarino Hostel Family, where I was welcomed with open arms. I can highly recommend this hostel to anyone traveling through the area! THE best place in town for coffee is hands down Jack&Jacks: it was also my office and preferred hang out spot. I recommend the Saturdays because that’s when the Mochaccino is on sale! So good… Mhhh!
This IS winter in Brazil… I have made extremely good use of my wool beanie, down jacket and sweatshirt. My only pair of jeans are so filthy that they stand up alone when I take them off… I can’t bear to wear shorts long enough to get them washed as its already too cold by nightfall for shorts. They are essentially a scrapbook of the various things I have eaten here or had spilled on myself, haha. I am extremely torn about my desire to be in warm weather and surfing vs spending time with the colorful characters I have encountered on the island. Should I stay or should I go?!
My impression of the Brazilians in Florianopolis is extremely good. I met nothing but friendly, happy and open people during my stay. Whether it was easy conversations in Portuguese with the drivers who gave me a ride when I was hitch-hiking or seeing a woman stop the bus (and a driver who actually stopped and waited!) to chase a stranger down, to return the cell phone he dropped on the seat beside her; I felt surrounded by amazing people. Most people you see are smiling genuinely and when you meet someone new, you get a hearty hug and a big kiss on the cheek… it is impossible to not fall in love with the people on the Magic Island.
Surfing has been a true test of my patience here: so far I have only been in a few times at all and one of those was essentially just to paddle to the outside of a heavy day and snap my leash immediately…It’s been either flat or over 3 meters on my days off and now I have been sick with a bit of a head cold for 3 weeks thanks to the strong winds. It’s as if Floripa is telling me to wait for surfing and just enjoy the plentiful nightlife here (which I have been doing!). Experiencing a local hip-hop party as the only Gringa was about as deep as I can imagine immersing into the local nightlife. It kind of felt like a National Geographic Movie on exotic modern culture. Walking home nights you will often see groups of people playing music and “dancing” capoeira: I have to try that sometime!! It gives me goosebumps watching… the atmosphere is so vibrant! One night, around 4:30 in the morning, there was a guy on a horse who made the horse kind of, tap dance… it was not only the most abstract thing I have randomly seen, but also absolutely fascinating! I ended up watching for a good half an hour before going home. I went sandboarding with friends… or at least we tried to: it was more like hopping downhill on sand. I got to try dancing some Salsa at a local bar with live music, being taught some steps by locals patient enough to risk their toes, and had a blast! I mean honestly, how lucky am I to have an opportunity to actually try Salsa IN Brazil?! There was a big BBQ and bonfire out in the dunes on my last night in town: surrounded by people from all walks of life and edges of the globe hanging out under the stars together. This is the stuff dreams are made of: I’m so thankful to my parents for empowering me to seek my own path in life and nurturing my curiosity of the world around me. TRAVELING RULES!!!
***Huge thanks to Francois for the surfing picture! Check his amazing work out: facebook.com/Whatsupeddyfr