From Curitiba, I took another bus and, as is tradition in South America, arrived two hours later than advertised. This meant that it was dark when I arrived, so I sensibly took a taxi instead of the bus as planned. The city of Florianópolis is half on the mainland and half on the Ilha de Santa Catarina, and all the good beaches are a bit of a drive away from the centre. Not that it was really beach weather when I was there in South American winter. My hostel, Backpackers’ Sunset, was on a hill above Praia Mole and looking down over the Lagoa da Conceição. Great view, friendly staff, lots of excursions… but best of all you got a free caipirinha every night! What more could you ask for?
The caipirinha also proved a great conversation starter as I met a friendly Brazilian/Australian couple and another Australian guy, and together we went out for dinner to the sushi restaurant across the road. Best. Sushi. Ever. Apparently Brazil has the second highest population of Japanese after Japan (though the owner of this particular sushi restaurant was a local, and the archetype of my ideal man). We went for the all-you-can-eat option where we could order again and again and again from the menu. The only rule was that you had to pay for any sushi that was left over at the end. The fish was so incredibly fresh, it melted in my mouth. Then there was a Brazilian invention: hot philadelphia rolls. Yummy for my tummy. And you got a free shot of sake if you liked the Facebook page. (I’m reminded of my chocolate ball in La Paz…) I came back for more the next day with the Australian guy (who had turned out to be a Zionist South African). Our appetites were only slightly reduced second time round.
The next day was gorgeously sunny and, on the hostel’s recommendation, I took a boat to Costa da Lagoa, where I was told there were good restaurants and short hikes to see the nearby waterfall. People were getting off at different stops along the way and I had no idea if I should join them. I asked the girl sitting next to me and, not speaking Spanish and struggling to find the words in English, she finally managed: “Come with us!” and so I was adopted for the day by three Brazilian girls visiting for a long weekend. Our communication was limited to big arm gestures and some key words. One was ‘camaraõ’, close enough to the Spanish ‘camarónes’ for me to agree to a shared platter of what turned out to be scampi, grilled prawns, and battered fish with a huge side order of fries. After lunch we went in search of the waterfall, ‘cachoeira’, but the search was unsuccessful and we eventually returned to the dock to await the next boat.
In the morning, I had discovered a Havaiana shop in town; after the excursion, I returned to buy two pairs. I’ve never really ‘got’ Havaianas, especially since they’re so expensive in Europe, but on entering the shop I found I wanted to buy them all. Maybe it’s the Brazil effect? And the cheap price played a part as well…
The next day, I woke up to a thunderstorm, the windows banging in the wind and the rain belting down on the roof. I spent the day shivering in my dress, waiting for my laundry to be ready; only to find, when picking it up, that it hadn’t been washed. So I had been freezing all day for no reason, and now had no clean clothes. Hum. I ended the day, and my stay in Florianópolis, with another dinner with my dad’s colleague and another part of his family. This time, we went to the most amazing Mexican restaurant, with tequila men and women walking around giving out shots, and a mariachi band playing both Mexican and Brazilian classics. Dessert was churros with dulce de leche. YUM.
Five days in Brazil and I ate Italian, Agentinian, Japanese x2, and Mexican. Oops.