City of Sun, Surf and Samba.

Trip Start Jan 09, 2005
Trip End ??? ??, 2005

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Tuesday, January 25, 2005

We arrived from Parati via Sao Paulo and Curitiba which took about 15 hours on the bus. En route you could tell we were moving into sub tropical land (Rio and Parati being seated firmly on the tropic of Capricorn) as tropical rainforest plants like palms gave way to more temperate (and European) looking trees and plants.
We arrived in the town of Florianopolis which is the capital of Isla Santa Catarina ( an island approx 50km long and and an average of 10km wide). Florianopolis straddles the Island and the mainland and is connected by two impressive Brooklyn type bridges. First impressions are favourable as looks a bit like Miami, with lots of neo art deco apartment buildings all immaculately painted in pastel hues. The weather here also seems to be more temperate in that it doesn`t rain very often and it`s a constant 25-30 celsius with plenty of off shore breeze to keep you cool and blow away any clouds that threaten to gather!
We had been given a tip from an Australian chick about a youth hostel in the south of the Island that isn`t in any of the guide books and had a unique atmosphere... The Backpackers Hostel was stacked high on a headland of rock above the picturesque old fishing port of Barra de Lagoa. We crossed on the most dodgy looking rope bridge that swayed up, down, left, right and twisted as you walked and when we finally got to the other side I half expected Ant and Dec to be waiting for us with a Bush Tucker Trial!
The place was definitely unique in that it looked very nautical with port holes and a tarpaulin roof which clattered and flexed with the wind, and was populated with what at first looked like a group of drunken sailors! But were in fact student travellers from all parts of the globe, recovering from the previous nights drinking by watching DVDs. That same night we had a Barbecue which I am becoming wise to, as they are really the hostels sponsored drinkathons in aid of the starving cane brandy producers! Myself and Jodie gave generously and headed for bed at around 2. The party continued till 8am at which point the next mornings staff arrived notched up the music even more. We did manage to escape during the festivities and headed to the town square where one of the islands many smba schools were in full flow practice so we boogied and drank beer with the locals and were hopeful for things to come.

The next beech along callled pria mole is where they host the brazilian surf championships which was really cool although the only draw back is they don^t hire surf boards so we head for a remote island beach called Santinho were there is pumping surf 5-7 ft, and leave the cast aways of the backpackers to there fate.

Santinho is beautiful and the waves are frankly scary but a lot of fun as i do an impression of a sock tumbling in a washing machine as I get battered by wave afterwave. We have a beautiful apprtment that is the nicest I have stayed in so far and when we leave the mother and daughter team,who had already been so nice to us, they gave us a souvenier plate..ahhh. We returned the favour and posted a hot recommendation on the lonely planet good turn...We also manage to get to go paragliding. Jodie even wants to go again when we reach the himalayas.

With so little time till carnival and not being organised we decide to stay in florinoplis and we were not disappointed. The realy great thing about the isle is the laid back life style and the general carefree vibe of the people. During carnival and the run up band practices and spontaneous group parades with rocking drum and horn accompliments were the norm; all this without the merest hint of the violence that is endemic in the bigger cities!

A typical evening would start by the call of the drums about 9 oclock, with people waking from their much needed siestas from the previous nights partying, and the streets begining to fill with people and makeshift sound sytems that block the streets to all but the most determined car drivers (they are repaid however by geers and sprayed with foam especially those who forget to wind up their windows...tee hee). Street parties continue till 3 in the morning by which point those who can stand go to a night club and those that canīt canīt and there are alot of those. We headed of most nights to the local night spots and saw the Bazillians at their flamboyant carefree best dancing the night away au natural.
Carnival then culminated on the sunday after a week of informal partying in the Samodromo, sambadrome to you and me, which is a long procesional road flanked with stadia seating.

I would describe the experience but I guess a picture paints a thousand words. (I will try to work out how to send a rather large size movies to the site but peobably in a few days so watch out for these they are really good!
Thats all for now.
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