Island Bliss in Floripa

Trip Start Jun 07, 2009
Trip End Aug 23, 2009

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Flag of Brazil  , State of Santa Catarina,
Thursday, June 18, 2009

Eighteen hours and two buses took us from Punta del Este to Florianopolis on Santa Catarina Island during evening rush hour. We caught yet another bus, this one a local commuter bus with standing room only which wouldn't have been a problem if the bus driver didn't think he was driving a race car, the bus didn't have ultrahard shocks (apparently a Brazilian thing) or we weren't balancing our packs below us. Given that all of these conditions were met, we managed to be the gringo weeble wobble entertainment, lightening up the other passengers commute.

We asked a guy to help us out and tell us when we passed our hostel. He was happy to help us out but was dead wrong when it came to the location of the hostel, so we ended up jumping off the bus 3 miles early. His advice actually led us to another hostel
owned by the same folks that owned our intended destination. Even after we figured this out, we were too tired to keep moving.

Our error (or the guy on the bus's) turned out to be a serendipitous mistake, and the hostel was amazing. It was perched on a hillside overlooking a lake surrounded by mountains and included three homes terraced on the hillside and connected by an intricate stone stairway. For $50 per night, we had a private room with a lanai with an amazing view, plus a free breakfast. Our private room gave us privacy from the classicly raucaus hostel crowd, including mostly young Brits, Aussies and an American or two. The place was well-catered to this crowd, offering daily activities including sandboarding, boat trips/ booze cruises (dressing in drag), hiking, nightclub outings, and bbqs at other hostels. Most of the activities involve copious amounts of alcohol, and since we were preparing for the marathon we primarily stuck to ourselves.

The first day we hung around the house, did laundry and walked into the nearby town, Centro da Lagoa, which really had a lot going on, again, mostly involving the beverages from which we were abstaining. The town had an amazingly high percentage of beautiful people. It seemed like a low-key Santa Monica.

The second day we rented a car and drove to the relatively undeveloped south end of the island. The car allowed us to experience the madness of driving in Brazil firsthand and also stop at a few of the beautiful beaches along the way without having to wait two hours for the next bus. Our goal was to reach Pantano do Sul, a charming fishing village at the southern tip of the island in time for a late lunch at the beachfront and reportedly worldfamous fish restaurant Bar do Arantes.

The lunch plans eventually turned to an akwardly early dinner, but the village and restaurant lived up to its reputation (albeit at a cost which matched its reputation). The village and restaurant looked lost in time, fronting an unspoiled and undeveloped beach that in one direction extended several miles and in the other direction met a tree covered mountain that rose up from the beach. It is amazing that it has not become a tourist trap. The restaurant has been around since the 1950īs, starting off as a fishing supply store that would cook meals for hungry fishermen. In the 60's and 70's, younger folks would come to camp on the beaches and would leave notes at the restaurant so their friends could find them. The practice of leaving pieces of paper with a message continues today, most of them saying Eu fui aca (I was here) or that the food was great. We left our obligatory note as well. It is in red pen, should you ever make it there.

The third day we went to Joaquina beach, a famous surfing beach that held an ASP event with Kelly Slater the following week. In the parking lot as we were getting ready, we me a brazillian named Ricardo. He offered to let us use his BRAND NEW board and wetsuit, but we went
ahead and rented. The surf was fun, even in full wetsuits. After returning our boards, we headed to the restaurant on the beach where we ran into Ricardo and his friends, who promptly asked us to join them. Ricardo owns a wind energy company, one of his friends was the head judge for the mens shortboard world surf tour. Hopefully we will run into him in Hawaii at the next event. They poured us beer (we couldn't say no this time) and offered us a specialty of fried logs of fish eggs. Yum. Apparently the Tainha migrate north to lay their eggs around the island. Each year, during the month of June, they "get" to eat this delicacy. Lucky for us, we did too.

That night we headed to a club called Parador 12 (P12), which has been touted by NY times as
the new superclub of, well, anywhere. It was low season and not so warm, but during the summer this place has got to be something to experience. Santa Catarina was amazing and we could have stayed, but we have a whole continent to see and had to move on to Parati.

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