Brazil: You had me at Beach

Brazil: You had me at Beach

Discovering Caraiva

I’d been really busy before arriving in Brazil that I hadn’t had much time to plan the things that I wanted to see and do whilst I was here and a part of me also wanted to have the spontaneity of discovering things along the way. In between working, hosting my perfume workshops, having my driving lessons, attending and running a meetup group, packing and seeing family and friends I was all but burnt out in London and more then ready for this most exciting travel adventure. 

So because of all of this I hadn’t heard of Caraiva before when our Airbnb host mentioned the place to me. She had been very vague as to what exactly we would find once we arrived there, but she said it was special and I trusted her judgement in particular when considering that whilst residing in the mysterious allure of Trancoso, she was recommending this place as a must-see destination in Bahia. So see it I must!

Getting to Caraiva was no easy feat. The roads here in this part of Brazil were shockingly bad, indeed on the night that we first arrived I was bumped and bounced out of my exhaustion on the perilous journey through the dusty, narrow, rocky and uneven dirt roads to get here. The roads were so dusty here that just walking down them immediately covered you with plumes of dirt. And our balcony had a permanent reddy brown film of dust on the floor, tables and chairs that daily sweeping couldn’t fix and all of the surrounding plants and trees were permanently dusty to match. So the idea of venturing out into this tourist unfriendly landscape for a day out, where a burst tire could happen at any given moment, didn’t particularly fill us with enthusiasm.

   

Sunrise from our balcony 

Getting to Caraiva required us to walk for 30 minutes in order to get to the bus station where we would pick up a bus that would take 2 hours to get there, then once we arrived we had to then get on a little boat. As always, we were the only non Brazilians present so it was fun and games trying to buy a bus ticket from the man at the kiosk who couldn’t speak any English but we got there in the end. Thankfully the bus had lots of windows and as we had chosen to go on one of the hottest days since we’d arrived in Trancoso, we really needed the cool breeze. We had brought along with us water, blankets and suncream but since we hadn’t done any research on where we were going or what to expect once we got there, we didn’t really know whether there would even be a beach there. All part of the fun!

The journey to Caraiva simply took my breath away, and not in a good way!

If I’d thought that the roads in Trancoso were bad I need think again as the roads towards Caraiva were utterly awful. The bumps in the road had me and Josh bobbing up and down like a jack in the box. I felt as though I was on some kind of a fairground ride that I was about to be chucked off of and I was genuinely shocked as to how many ditches and lumps and bumps in the road there were, and for how long in the journey this shock to the system went on for. It was as if I was actually partaking in a sport of some kind.

 A bus ride should not increase the adrenaline of it’s passengers (who are supposed to be relaxing afterall!) but every second that went by I was forced violently up in my seat and then thudded back down again as the bus wobbled over the humps in the road. I imagined myself to be a horse jockey. The roads were extremely narrow and had twists and turns in them that would make even Lewis Hamilton blush, yet this bus driver was flying around these roads like he himself was a professional F1 driver. I didn’t even know that buses could reach such speeds as this – but surely he must have been doing around 50 miles an hour down these rural roads, which had huge precipes’ and deep ravines on both sides. This man clearly didn’t care one iota about the health and wellbeing of his passengers.

Water flew out of my water bottle drenching my clothes. My head was pounding from all of the jolting about, my legs felt bruised and Josh almost had carpet burns from his knees being rammed and scraped into the seat in front. We were both pretty shaken up and we hadn’t even arrived yet! To think that some people were actually doing this journey on a daily basis was beyond my British comprehension but then it just goes to show you how much you can endure if you’ve never known anything else I guess, and for these locals, this was all they’d ever known!

After a long and very uncomfortable ride eventually we got off the bus to be met with intense heat and humidity in equal measure. We hadn’t wanted to come when it was overcast and now we were reaping the rewards of a sun that simply wouldn’t quit. The first thing we had to do was pick up a ticket to enter the park so we walked over to the kiosk to get our tickets and that was when we first found out what Caraiva was: an ecological seaside village. 

No cars were permitted on the island, so once you crossed over to it by boat transport was only permitted by foot (or on one of the resident donkeys). To preserve their sacred space they had even devised a donkey “poo collecter” in the shape of a net that hung on the underside of the donkey!

To cross, we had to take a small rowing boat. The whole area was a UNESCO heritage site and the Brazilians took the safeguarding of their natural treasures carefully as I had seen from all of the other UNESCO heritage sites I’d had the pleasure to visit whilst travelling in Brazil so I was exciting to see what this place was all about. I loved the look of the beautiful lake that we had to cross to get to Caraiva, and the sweet colourful little boats that lined the shore. 

Soon we were on our way across the lake. All I could hear whilst we were crossing was the smooth dipping motion of the oars plunging quietly into the still lake and the sound of the birds chirping as they flew overhead. I still didn’t know what exactly I was hoping to find in Caraiva but I was already being mesmerised by the simple beauty of the place and I felt a deep and sincere sense of peace and relaxation being out on the water. 

I wondered if they knew how lucky they were? To have such an abundance of secret treasures curtesy of nature everywhere you turned? 

Caraiva Lake 

After a short ride in the boat we stepped onto the shore and the first thing I noticed was that there was sand everywhere. The ground of the entire village was covered with sand. If you were lucky enough to have a home in Caraiva then when you stepped out of your front door you stepped right onto streets of soft dark yellow sand. Talk about laid back – this was taking laid back to the extreme and from what I could already see, it had an effortless charm and wasn’t even trying. 

The narrow walkways were a maze of streets that had inconspicuous bars, restaurants, private homes, hotels and boutique shops, all decorated in that beautifully rustic hippy-filled way that was common in this part of Brazil but unlike Trancoso, which had a much more “rich hippy” look, Caraiva’s was the real laid back deal. It was authentic right down to the colourful little homes with hammocks swaying on the front porches, the beautiful native indian girls with feathers in their hair and beads around their necks who sashayed silently through the tropical trees, and the little old donkeys  as they made transporting fresh coconuts through the secret sand filled passageways. Dappled light filtered through the trees providing shade from the heat of the sun whilst brightly coloured butterflies fluttered on by making their way to the exotic plants and flowers that decorated the streets. This place had that special something that I kept on discovering Brazil possessed in abundance: Natural Magic.  

We had no idea where we were going we just walked, letting our eyes lead us where it may. It was like walking through a labyrinth with no particular direction. We had already reached the destination but every little thing about this characterful place was a destination in itself. It was simply beautiful. Quiet and humbly so. I was simply elated to have found such a charming place. 

The quaint sandy streets of Caraiva 

We soon found out that Caraiva also had a beach so we made our way there using the vague directions that were dotted around the maze like streets until eventually we arrived at yet another stunner: Caraiva Beach.

The beach was long and wide with thick and luxurious golden sand that merged with another gorgeous icy blue lake that had a generous amount of palm trees swaying invitingly on the beach behind it. The beach was incredibly unspoilt and big enough for you to have all to yourself if you wanted to and it was devoid of any big developments that would have spoilt it’s simple and rustic beauty by Caraiva’s eco status. 

Beach Club on Caraiva Beach

As we were leaving to catch the boat back we saw that some of the locals were just setting up a market which looked lovely. We decided that it would have been nice to stay in Caraiva for a few days and really experience it’s very apparent tranquility. It is perhaps a little too rustic for me to stay in for longer then a couple of days but I truly think that it’s somewhere that is very special and I was glad that we were able to visit. I also did not get the sense that they have seen many tourists (outside of Brazil that is), so that made it even more memorable. 

Arrial D’Ajuda 

This was another place that we were told about by our Airbnb host cum friend, who was so far becoming a very reliable source of recommendations. As with Caraiva I didn’t do any research on the place, I just took her advice that it was somewhere that was worth a visit. 

The only problem was that like many of the other secret discoveries of Brazil, it required a commitment from both Josh and I to get to it.  Lagoinha do Leste  required a 2 and a half, almost 3 hour climb through dense jungle, up the side of a mountain, hugging a precipice of said mountain and alot of clambering, climbing and precarious walking over rocks, streams and goodness knows what else in order to get to it. It was absolutely knackering and though we had taken the “scenic route” which was supposed to be the easier of the 2 options (the other route was only an hour’s hike through the jungle), I was so tired that I couldn’t concentrate on the bloody scenery. 

Even though it was beautiful all I could think of was my utter energy depletion and worry about having to go through this on the way back. But when we landed on that beach I had to acknowledge that it was otherworldly beautiful and very unspoilt. That beach was truly paradise on earth. 

Rio Da Barra 

And then there was Caraiva which should have been easy enough since we were basically just passengers but which was such a terrifyingly bumpy journey there and back that it ended up being far more challenging then I originally thought it would be. But again, like with Lagoinha do Leste I had to acknowledge when I arrived that it’s effervescent beauty far outweighed any difficulty in reaching her. Caraiva was like it was frozen in time, stripped back to the most basic with a most magical allure. 

So I trusted her when she told us to make sure we checked the tide times before planning a trip to Arrial as a trip to Arrial required a walk along 3 beaches: Nativos, Rio Da Barra and Taipe, before arriving there and it would take us no less then 3 hours to get there. 3 hours? I asked. Yes, 3 hours. But she promised. It will be worth it. And she was right. Again.

Firstly, we checked the tide times and it told us that low tide was at 07:30 am so we made sure that we were up and on the beach ready for the 3 hour long trek before the tide came back in. 

It being so early in the morning we had the pleasure of having all 3 beaches almost completely to ourselves. And it was exquisitely beautiful. Taipe beach in particular, as it had these gigantic coral coloured clifftops providing the perfect backdrop to a pristine beach with generous golden sands, lots of palm trees swaying gently in the breeze and a life giving sea that roared it’s greatness. 

The distinctive pink hued clifftops of Taipe Beach

Josh and I remarked at the natural beauty of this place. Yet another beach that had been preserved and so retained it’s outstanding natural beauty. No high rise hotels or ugly buildings were permitted to darken it’s door and thank goodness for that! Brazil has almost 8,000 kilometres of beaches in it’s lands but I was continually being surprised by the breadth, variety and amount of care that had been taken to preserve what makes these beaches so magical. 

Funnily enough by the time we got to Arrial’s beach, not only were my feet utterly destroyed, and I was so overheated that I was literally dripping sweat from every orifice looking like I’d just taken a dunk in the sea, but in comparison to our beach (Nativo’s), and the other 2 that we had passed through, this beach was far inferior. Oh it was more swimmable sure so perhaps more “family friendly” as the water was shallow and there were less waves here but it was also overdeveloped, with lots of resort hotels offering family package holidays no doubt packed together one after another, and there was tonnes of people. Infact, we’d never seen so many people on a beach in Bahia – shouldn’t they be back at work? Josh and I asked one another with a little humour. 

There was also lots of seaweed that had washed up on this beach – the others had none whatsoever. And you know what it’s like when there’s alot of seaweed on a beach – it has this “raw” smell that I don’t find pleasant at all. There’s no way that even if these people weren’t crowding this beach like it was the first time that they’d been on a beach before, that I would have wanted to go in. I don’t want to come out smelling like a creature of the deep.

Our first attempt at making Tapioca Pancakes 

Even though both of us had dead legs from all of the walking we had done we didn’t fancy staying on this beach for much longer so we went in search of the town. What we hadn’t bargained for however was that in our effort to walk into town we would have to traverse up a killer hill – so steep that it really wasn’t funny, and in our current state of dead legs, pouring sweat and energy depletion it almost sent us over the edge. Thankfully we made it up (albeit by this time I was looking like a drowned rat) and as soon as we did we came upon a man selling coconuts on the side of the road. Thank goodness!!!

That drink of Coconut Water surely saved our lives. The town was as special as we had been promised, with lots and lots of colourful little hippy-ish shops, which had a real beachy vibe. We were starving and on the look of food but unluckily for us even though it was before lunchtime (alot of restaurants close at lunch which will never make any sense to me), every single shop bar one was FECHADO’D (aka closed). So we went in there and had a coffee and later on we  through sheer determination in looking we managed to find a place that was open (a buffet restaurant surprise surprise) as every other shop was still closed and I had absolutely no idea why especially with the amount of people that we saw on the beach!

Whilst we were there, walking through the adorable little palm tree lined streets we found a Havaiana shop, and since my beloved crocs had decided to die on me that very same morning Josh bought me and him both a pair. And I had mine customised! They are gorgeous and the best thing is that we bought them from the place where they’re made so they’re also something of a momento of our travels in Brazil 🙂

My brand new Havaianas

On the bus back we met a guy from Israel – as with most people who live here he was very friendly and we’re going to go for a beer with him before we leave here. 

Favouritto’s Decor

I have learnt so much in the 3 months that I have been travelling in Brazil. So much more then I ever could have imagined and none of it has to do with travel. In the quest to attain the perfect life balance the people that Josh and I have met along the way have taught us both an unforgettable lesson: that life is what you make it and life is enriched when you extend the hand of friendship, openness and generosity towards others.

Also, our style of “slow travel” has allowed us to not only fully experience the culture, traditions and customs of the Brazilian people but also to make these human connections that we wouldn’t have otherwise made.

Our experience here in Brazil has been greatly enriched by the people that we have met and our experience here has really made an impression on us. We intend to stay in touch with everyone that we have met here and meet up with them if they come to Europe or see them when we get back, because we will definitely be back.

We ended our time in Brazil with a farewell sushi dinner with all of our Brazilian friends and then awoke at 4:00 pm the following morning to catch the sunrise and go for a swim whilst the sun came up:

The stuff of dreams in the place of dreams.

Sunrise on Nativo’s Beach

Wearing Havaianas and a Brazilian Biquini, whilst eating Acai bowls and drinking Bohemia beer, washing with scented Soap, dancing to Bossa Nova, meeting new Brazilian Friends, making Tapioca Pancakes and saying Bom Dia!  I think that I might just be a little more Brazilian then when I arrived. Thank goodness 🙂

Brazil: You had me at beach. 

You have mesmerised me with your natural beauty and delighted me with each sunrise and sunset. Your people have humbled me with their warmth and friendliness, your music has moved me. I have danced and I have smiled. Your traditions and rituals have intrigued me, your beaches have left me breathless, your ancient trees have humbled me. Your Acai has addicted me whilst your native monkeys made me laugh. I have marvelled at your depth, at your simplicity and your natural magic.

Thank you for 3 unforgettable months!

Lazy Days 

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly:

The Good

The Brazilian People

I thought that the people in Turkey were friendly but the Brazilians have to take the top spot for friendliness. I have been simply amazed at the warmth and friendliness of the people here. Largely  we have experienced nothing but good energy (including in Rio), and generally people have been very open, genuine and warm towards us. We have met so many different people whilst we’ve been here that we never would have met otherwise, many of them are not Brazilian I’ll admit but who they have all lived here so long that they have adopted their way of life and Brazilians are very sociable people. They also love to party, are very close to their families, are proud of their traditions and enjoy music – my kind of people! 

The Starlit Sky

I’ve never seen stars so bright, or as numerous as I have here. The moon too I have seen in so many different ways, all of them glowing and hauntingly beautiful, and the full moon on the night of my Aunt’s memorial 12.12.19 was especially memorable. 

Safety

Contrary to popular belief about Brazil being dangerous and/or crime ridden we have been here for 3 months and haven’t experienced even a hint of danger. This very well maybe in part (particularly in Florianopolis), due to it’s status as being one of the safest parts of Brazil but either way the longer you stay somewhere the more you expand your chances of something bad happening to you but thankfully I’m glad to say, nothing has happened to us.

Caipirinha’s (with Cachaca)

Usually made with Vodka back in the UK – the Caipirinha’s in Brazil are the real deal and after having almost a #Caipirinhaaday I can say that the quality and the quantity of alcohol has been pretty consistent. It’s a really refreshing drink that’s perfect at any time of day. I will definitely be continuing making Caipirinha’s when I get home. 

Tapioca Pancakes

I had heard about this product before – a kind of starch like substance that comes in the form of flour that Brazilians use to make these quite dense, gritty white pancakes. They’re especially good because they’re not sweet and they hold together well so you can put any filling you like on them. They’re not particularly nutritious but they do make an excellent alternative gluten free pancake/crepe option. We tried to make our own for the very first time the other day and it was a success so I’m going to see if I can find the flour online when I get back and make them as a quick and tasty snack.

Acai

Superfood or not, this Amazonian berry is super. Since discovering it we have had it pretty much everyday. And on a few occasions we’ve had it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, lol. That is because it is extremely refreshing. Like the most refreshing drink you’ve ever had (even better then water), it cools you right down. It isn’t sweet – it’s perfectly balanced, a very hard thing to find in this age of super sweet foods. It is versatile – you can have it as an ice cream (which we do mostly), with fruits, nuts, granola and coconut or whatever you like, you can also have it as a savoury accompaniment. Or you can have it as a smoothie, on it’s own or mixed with other fruits. And lastly, it never gets boring. I mean literally never. Every mouthful is hugely enjoyable so much so that it’s almost addictive but, and here’s the best thing: Acai is actually good for you! It’s full of antioxidants, so I say bring on the Acai. Needless to say I will be looking for it when I get back and making sure that our freezer is fully stocked. 

Bohemia Beer

I’ve never been a beer drinker. Infact I’ve never even bought a beer before. I have had beer before obviously but it has just never really appealed to me as an alcoholic drink option. That is perhaps in part because of the “laddish culture” that surrounds the drinking of beer back in the UK. And partly because some small part of me believed that beer was a man’s (or an emasculated women’s) drink, but drinking beer here in Brazil is just a way of life for men and women alike. It’s a social drink meant for sharing – it’s usually sold by the pump to a group of people which they have on their table and share amongst themselves. It’s doesn’t accompany football chants, lifting up ones t-shirt to show one’s bra, or verbally abusing passersby, it’s just a perfectly civilised way to spend ones evening. And they had such a variety of beers here but I found my own one that I quite like and it’s called Bohemia. Tasty and with a great name and branding – bonus!

Brazilian Biquini

I took the plunge after weeks of deliberating and went and bought myself a Brazilian Biquini. Once I had seen that most Brazilians over the age of 17 were wearing one, including the grannies who seemed perfectly content to have their buttocks on full display whilst they sashayed down the beach, I decided that I didn’t have much excuse not to wear one myself so I went ahead and bought myself a biquini and have been wearing it on the Brazilian beaches ever since. And I have to admit: there is a certain freedom that I feel when wearing it, and of course it also helps that I’m not the odd one out, as why would anyone look at me when every woman wears one here? – I’m not sure whether I will be brave enough to wear it in Europe but we’ll see how it goes! 🙂

Fluffy Pedigree Dogs

There are lots of pampered pooches here and rather then put me off the idea of having one it has made me want one even more, lol. Alas, Josh’s Mum aswell as his Uncle who had a dog for a longtime up until just recently has said that they do not think it’s a good idea as it will spoil my life. They mean with regards to our passion for travel and autonomy as dogs require almost as much care as children. I do understand what they are saying, and of course I don’t particularly want to pick up poo either so getting a dog is going to have to be put on the back burner for now.

Restaurante Vitoria

Not just my namesake but a very nice restaurant too that is perfectly positioned on the Quadrado to make the most of people watching in a beautiful and super relaxing setting. The Moqueca that we had there is still the best one that I’ve had here. 

Brazilian Clothes 

Brazilians are the original beach dwellers. You can find them on the beach even when it’s overcast and chilly and naturally they have the beach resort clothes to match. Beautiful, floaty dresses in light materials that drift effortlessly behind them as they walk. Dresses in light knit, crochet, linens, light cottons, silks – gorgeous beach luxe styles with soft, feminine materials that I really love. They also love to wear bright colours and as they are typically bronze or brown skinned and the vibrant colours look really good on them.

Coconut Water

Abundant, fresh, delicious and refreshing! Even better then water aka agua com or sem gas (especially when it’s been put in the fridge to make it ice cold)

The Lighthouse Cafe

This coffee shop was pretty cool. They make and package their own coffee beans on site and have a long and impressive list of coffees that i’d never heard of before. The coffee was pretty good too!

Uxua

Though we’d never been inside we did dine there and it was a lovely experience. Uxua is the place that summarises what Trancoso is all about: Laid back bohemian luxury. Wilbert Daas, the guy who owns Diesel and this boutique Bahian hotel, also designed Anderson Coopers rustic Brazilian home which is unsurprisingly very chic.

Casa Clube

This beach club was a 40 minute walk down the beach from our chalet to get to it but thankfully when you got there it was well worth it. In a prime position on an isolated part of Nativos Beach, the food was good (the burger especially), the waiters were good and good looking (and went for a swim in between serving – the women too, for all you lady lovers out there), and the chilled out dance music was great too. 

French Crepe Lady in Trancoso

Out of all of the restaurants we had to choose from in the Quadrado this one was our favourite. Just a small restaurant/creperie next to a library with bar stools out front that you would almost pass but the crepes (both savoury and sweet), made for the perfect dinner if you weren’t feeling all that hungry or you just wanted something a little more informal. The french lady who owned the restaurant along with her brazilian husband, made all of the crepes herself and they were good each and everytime!

Moqueca

A typically Bahian dish, Moqueca is made with seafood (and you can also have a vegetarian version), with vegetables and coconut milk. It has a delicate flavour but it’s also very tasty and is usually served with rice, farofa and beans. It was the closest thing to a Green Thai Curry I’d had since arriving in Brazil and I was yearning for a Green Thai Curry but they don’t really have Asian food here apart from Japanese (aka sushi) as there’s lots of Japanese people here.

Capim Santo Restaurant

Capim Santo was the restaurant where we spent NYE for a private friends only dinner that we had the honour of being invited to. Not only is the restaurant itself stunning, with the distinct feeling of being in some kind of a tropical oasis with it’s beautiful tree lined gardens when you walk in, but the staff who worked there seemed to be as happy as I was to be in such an exceptionally tranquil environment. The food was very good and the live musician was too. Capim Santo just has an ambience about it that is hard to describe. I will definitely be returning. 

Farofa

Though it looks like sawdust and to the naked eye it IS sawdust, a good farofa is actually worth it’s weight in salt (or sawdust or whatever). It gives some interest to an otherwise dull meal (which I’m afraid to say the Brazilians have a lot of), and additional flavour and texture. 

Santo Antonio De Lisboa

Beautiful quaint little place. A maze of little streets beside the bay with lots of boutique shops, restaurants and bars to choose from. 

Forneria Paulistana

This pizzeria in Jurere was a great find. With modern rustic decor, an open kitchen and excellent pizzas we went back there a few times and it didn’t disappoint.

The Quadrado 

As soon as I had read about this place, described as Brazil’s best kept secret I knew that I had to come here. Trancoso: A haven of peace and tranquility with a natural charm, beauty and atmosphere that had to be experienced to be believed but now that I had experienced it for myself I could attest to it’s simple yet magical allure. The grassy green square filled with bountiful trees and vividly colored flowers had a simple white church at the heart and lots of colourful stone pousada’s. Each night the square would come alive – the restaurants strung up fairy lights and lanterns turning this charming square into a magical wonderland. It was in this unique place that we met new friends and old friends for spontaneous evenings out, watched an impromptu native dancing ceremony and attended the classic film on the square event. Bumped into a very famous Brazilian singer there, danced to live music outside the restaurants there and spent many nights drinking Bohemia underneath the stars. The Quadrado is a special and very romantic place indeed.

Samba Dancing 

On the very first day we arrived we saw Samba dancers, wearing their traditional Afro Brazilian clothes on the square. The fact that this was a local event for local people just made it all the more special and there was an old matriarch right there in the middle of it dancing along with them who looked very good for her age but who was probably in her 80’s, maybe even 90’s. Impressive and very authentic, which I loved!

Beach Body Ready

I don’t know who came up with the saying “beach body ready” but whoever it was must surely have been talking about Brazilians. They’re not just beach body ready because they are beautiful (though many of them do indeed have incredible figures), but it’s because they are body confident. They are very happy in their skin and it shows. 

Capoeira

We have had the absolute pleasure of seeing this a few times spontaneously whilst we’ve been here and it has definitely been one of the stand out moments of our Brazil travels. The dance itself is incredible to watch, but so was the easy affection these Capoeira dancers had for each other. Such respect and camaraderie in a sport that they say is violent (its not) was lovely to see, and the artform itself is actually very beautiful – more like a slow dance then a physical fight. I loved their outfits too – white tops and slightly flared track bottoms with a colourful hanging belt and the african drums that they played whilst they danced got you really moving. Watching the Capoeira was one of the highlights of Bahia for both of us. It’s simplicity, authenticity and grace really touched us. 

Tour of Rio De Janeiro (including Christ the Redeemer, Football Stadium, Samba Stadium, Escadaria Selaron, Sugar Loaf Mountain and Buffet Lunch)

I confess that I expected a lot less from Rio De Janeiro before we visited it, but after the 4 days that we spent there visiting both Copacabana and Ipanema beaches and going to an amazing Bossa Nova club aswell as the 8 hour tour we did I was left impressed. Vast and sprawling (and yes in parts a little edgy too), it is a beautiful city, a combination of mountains, forest, city high rises, beaches and so i’ve heard only recently, stunning islands surrounding it. It also had an distinctive energy about it. The Brazilian people are a riot of colour and sound and Rio shows newbies to Brazil what it’s all about and I doubt that anyone is disappointed when they arrive. 

Our trip to Sugar Loaf Mountain showed us a panoramic aerial view of the city that I will never forget – it was simply breathtaking.

The Christ the Redeemer statue was big. There’s nothing really more to say about this obscene display of fictitious nonsense. However it WAS big. I’ll give them that.

Bossa Nova Music 

Beco Das Gerrafas was a great find. It does seem as though that only around 50 Bossa Nova songs have ever been recorded and they performed all 20 of them, lol, but nonetheless the music is great. I had a great night and should you be into Bossa Nova music and find yourself in Rio then it’s definitely worth checking out. 

The Nature

Nature is all around and all around is nature. I have seen some of the most incredible landscapes ever to clap my eyes on here in Brazil and I have been humbled by the abundance of nature there is here. Green, lush and mountainous with the most unspoilt and beautiful beaches that i’ve ever seen, many of the places we visited were protected sites and so we really have seen nature in action. It’s not a rich country so it can be a little rough around the edges and even a little rough in the centre, but if you are prepared for a little challenge then you can discover some of their best kept secrets which are incredible to behold. Brazil is such a big country and most people don’t bother to venture anywhere outside of Rio but after seeing what I’ve seen it gives me the confidence to know that there are many hidden gems here in Brazil just waiting to be discovered and I for one would love to see more. 

Favourrito Restaurant

I really loved the beach boho decor in this place and the shrimp risotto was definitely the best that I’ve ever had.

Bohemian Decor

I have always loved the rustic chic of the boho look. That communion with nature, an expression of luxury through simplicity and the use of natural materials has always appealed to me as an architectural and interior style (think greece) and here they have managed to keep a consistent theme throughout. Along with the boho vibe Bahia also has a beachy look and feel to it too aswell as the distinctive look of being in the tropics. Houses are made with stone and painted bright colours, with gorgeous stone tile roofs that compliment them perfectly. They are mostly open, inviting nature in, surrounded by the exotic trees and flowers of the forest which provide shade and lots of character. Elaborately crochet hammocks can be found on every street corner 🙂

Jay’s Bistro Restaurant 

The food at Jay’s Bistro was of fine dining quality which seems to be somewhat of a rarity here. It came as no surprise to learn that the chef (whose name isn’t Jay), trained in Europe. 

Monkeys

Monkeys along with Elephants are my favourite animals and there are lots here in Brazil just roaming freely about and they are so cute! One even came to see hi to us on our balcony which just made my day!

The Bad 

Marisqueira Sintra

Bloody horrible.  I still cannot understand why for the life of me that this place was rated #12 in the whole of Florianopolis. Are they having a laugh?! The worst thing about it was the fact that they are describing themselves as a seafood restaurant and they are located on the seafront yet they cannot cook seafood to save their lives! Both Josh’s and my meals were woefully underwhelming and Josh’s fish was actually raw in places too. Disappointing is an understatement!

Toilet tissue in bin (Sanitario’s, Banheiros)

It’s not nice and it’s not pleasant that after doing ones business one has to throw the tissue in the accompanying bin (which is often overflowing if it’s in a public place), otherwise you will block up the toilet. The luxury of using the toilet as it’s supposed to be used (i.e flushing away the tissue in the toilet), is not available here in Brazil as the plumbing hasn’t been upgraded. I’d like to say I’ve gotten used to it but I haven’t really (alas I always use the bin as required).

Buffet or 2 personas

The Brazilians sure do love a buffet. You can find a “price per kilo” buffet restaurant on every corner. It’s just the thing they do here. I guess it’s a pretty good idea (even though I am not personally a fan of the buffet concept), but as with most things here they like to make the process much more complicated then it needs to be and the buffet food here hasn’t been as good (or as hot) as I’d like. Alternatively to the buffet offerings was the good old “share the same meal with your partner” menu option which not only discriminates against single people but also assumes that you want to eat the same thing as your partner. Not so good if one of you has an allergy, mind you they don’t really cater for people with allergies much here!

The Portuguese Language 

Out of all of the challenges we have had to endure during this trip (and contrary to popular belief we have had some), the language barrier has been the most significant barrier. Of course Brazil gets tourists, I mean who hasn’t heard of Brazil? But most “tourists” in our experience were from the other surrounding parts of Brazil or possibly from other Latin American countries so they were somewhat familiar with the very challenging Portuguese language. We however, were not. 

And no amount of Duo Lingo was going to save us from the very questionable sounding words in the Brazilian vocabulary that we had never encountered before in our lives. Oh of course it sounded great when they said it but when we tried, it simply didn’t work for the most part. Take us asking for water for instance. A very basic (and quite pride filled achievement in our limited lingo experience). Asking for water should simply be:

“Posso ter dois aqua sem gas por favour?”

Translation: Can I have 2 still waters please?

But everytime, no not everytime but almost everytime they brought us just 1 bottle of water or they brought us 1 bottle of water that was sparkling or they brought us 2 bottles of water that were sparkling. What are we doing wrong? we sighed in frustration. 

It clearly must have something to do with our pronunciation of the words that threw them but surely “sem gas” translates to mean without gas and dois means 2. Dois has never meant Um (one)! However since we were the ones without adequate knowledge of reading and speaking the language (reading menu’s was a particularly challenging activity), we couldn’t really complain. Only we could when they seemed to make things even more complicated then they needed to be making us look and feel like utter idiots. If I could speak the language fluently then i’ve no doubt that our experience in Brazil would have been that much richer but unfortunately Josh was as bad at it as me so we were both just bumbling along trying to get by on the basics that we did have. 

When we read words in Portuguese without hearing how it was supposed to be pronounced people looked at us with quizzical expressions on their faces because Portuguese pronunciation of words is not phonetic. It’s not like reading English, German, French or Italian at all.

I’m not very good at languages anyway but what I cannot do is learn Portuguese for Brazil, Spanish for Colombia and French for France. It just ain’t gonna happen!

Chips and Rice with Filet Mignon and beans does not a meal make

When I first came to Brazil I wasn’t sure exactly what I was expecting with regards to their culinary prowess but I’ll admit I was expecting more. Rather then the bountiful harvest of fresh and exotic fruits and vegetables that I was imagining that I would encounter, I was offered beef, chips, rice and beans on more occasions then I could count. 

It seemed as though the Brazilian diet only consisted of beef aka filet mignon, chips, rice and beans (oh and the occasional salad). Now, not only does chips not even go with rice (as far as I’m concerned it’s one or the other), but it is just dull. Extremely dull. So on my travels in Brazil I have had much more beef then I would normally like to eat. Of course they do have seafish too but many of the fish offerings I’d never heard of and I didn’t want to have anymore nasty surprises (hint hint Lucila’s Bistro and Marisqueira Sintra). But to be fair to them, the shrimps are really good and there have at least been alot more food options in Bahia then in Florianopolis which we felt was like a wannabe Europe or something. In comparison Floripa was far too sanitised for Josh and me. It had almost completely removed the Brazilian culture that makes Brazil a unique place to visit in favour of a more synthentic Westernised version. Bahia, both the people, the food and the way of life was much more of the kind of cultural and authentic experience that I had been hoping for.

The Education System

Brazil has a terrible children’s education system apparently. One of our friends, a teacher who has just opened up a school here, told us how shockingly bad it was. And it can be very elitist, so if you have a child here, and you’re not wealthy or well connected then you best believe your child is getting an inferior education that sets them up to fail. Disappointing.

Crabs at the front door

I’m not a fan of having crab holes at my front door and the scurrying to and from by the family of crabs who live there, alas I have learned to live with it, because well frankly, there is absolutely nothing that I can do about it. This is a very wild environment and I really think I am due some credit for remaining in it as long as I have with such calm.

The Ugly

Condom Fish

A very condom looking jellyfish naturally occuring on Florianopolis beaches. It wobbled, it vibrated and it had a liquid like substance in the tip. Really not very pleasant. Really not very pleasant at all.

Centro

I will never forget the look and smell of the place – twas rundown and very smelly. Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t all bad, the park for instance was nice as it had a beautiful ancient fig tree in the centre of it but the area surrounding it was a total letdown, filled with vagrants and people selling fake trainers for £5. Plus there was the smell – that sweaty, frowsy, cheesy smell of an overflowing bin in the heat.  There was nothing redeeming about the place – the shops were full of cheap tatt and besides, they all looked the same. For a “historic centre” it was a pretty poor show, particularly when Florianopolis as a whole has much to offer.

Canasvieiras

Aka Doo Doo Beach. We should have known that it was going to be disappointing when we walked through the rundown and very sketchy looking neighbourhood but of course how were we to know that dogs would have free reign to doo doo on the beach and that their owners would leave it there for some unsuspecting beach dweller to sit on (aka Josh). Horrible beach!

Barratas

I don’t think there is any circumstance in which I could “get used” to cockroaches aka barratas roaming about my immediate vacinity. It’s bad enough when you see them scurrying across the pavement but in my abode? – COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE. It is simply OUT OF THE QUESTION for me to remain in an environment in which a cockroach is venturing about like it lives there. They make my skin crawl! 200 MILLION YEARS of evolution in a crispy outer layer, questionable looking tentacles and a penchant for filthy environments, no thank you! Alas not only did we see the roaming barratas in our Jurere Apartment which we promptly killed with a generous spray of insect killer but we have seen far more then we cared to in the extremely “jungleist” environment of Bahia, with it’s abundance of nature aka creatures that lives outside and occasional come in.  

Brazilian Politics

Everyone we have talked to here, from Florianopolis to Bahia dislikes the current President Bolsanaro very much. He has been nicknamed as the “Brazilian Trump” and if you thought that was bad then you need to hear the kinds of things he has said about black people, women, gay people and the indigenous community. Just a regular racist, sexist, homophobe then!

Mosquitoes 

They have been on me like a rash ever since I stepped foot in Bahia. It is much hotter and much more humid here and we have the unfortunate luck to be situated just behind a vast mangrove which I’m sure is breeding them like no tomorrow! Since I am allergic to them and come up in a heated bumpy rash immediately that is extremely uncomfortable and painful it isn’t the greatest experience I have to say. but this is the price you pay for living in such a tropical environment I guess. Shame my 50% Deet Jungle Formula and Avon So Soft Oil Spray doesn’t keep the bloody buzzards at bay!

Road Infrastructure

Goodness gracious me the roads in Bahia are bad! On our extremely bumpy journey to Caraiva I was left drenched from my drink spilling all over me, a headache and a bruised leg from the incessant jostling about. The 2 hour long tumultuous bus journey required nerves of steel and  anti-bruise pads to match. Awful beyond comprehension.

Brazil’s Best Beaches

Campeche (Floripa), Nativo’s (Bahia), Taipe (Bahia), Rio Da Barra (Bahia), Jurere Floripa), Lagoinha Do Leste (Floripa), Barra Da Lagoa (Floripa), Caraiva (Bahia), Copacabana (Rio De Janeiro)

Campeche: A gloriously wide beach backed by sand dunes with powerful and icy cold waves. 

Nativo’s: Magical. Versatile. Charming.  Palm trees and the characteristic and well preserved mangroves lead you to the warm, clean sea with a thick and golden sandy beach that connects to a purple hued lake. 

Lagoinha Do Leste: Wild and beautiful. We trekked for almost 2 and a half hours across the mountain to get to it but it was worth the wait. The very definition of a deserted paradise beach.

Jurere: Soft powdery white sand and shallow waters with the most incredible sunrises. Lots of fancy beach bars too (only open in the high season)

Taipe: A long, wide, sandy beach that is overlooked by dramatic coral pink cliffs and palm trees. Such character and beauty! 

Barra Da Lagoa: The beach is lovely here but what makes it especially beautiful is the fact that it has a lovely emerald green lake on the other side and if you cross over the bridge you can get to the piscinas naturais, a natural lake amongst craggy rocks that jut out from the sea.

Caraiva: Everything about Caraiva is magical. The lake, the sand filled streets and the magnificent beach.

Copacabana: Copacabana beach showcases the energy of Brazil. It is colourful, dramatic and beautiful.

So, did we get to do and see everything we wanted to? – for the most part, yes. The only thing I regret is that I didn’t get to visit Salvador, the capital of Bahia – “the most African state outside of Africa” for it’s largely Afro Brazilian residents and African culture. But I had naively assumed that as Trancoso was also in Bahia that it would perhaps be an hour or two drive away but clearly I underestimated the size of Brazil as Salvador was more then a 10 hour drive away! So it wasn’t to be this time round but when I’m back (and I will be back), I will make sure that I get to visit Salvador. 

Josh wanted to try his hand at Kite Surfing whilst we were in Trancoso but the guy who was usually posted up at the beach offering lessons went missing all of a sudden and isn’t answering messages on his Facebook page (typical), so he’ll have to try and get lessons elsewhere. Thankfully kite boarding is pretty big now, particularly in parts of Europe such as France and Portugal so he should be able to take it up there no problem.

Tomorrow we leave Brazil in search of a new discovery: Colombia.

Week 5 in Trancoso, Bahia

Week 5 in Trancoso, Bahia

It’s NYE 2019 and what a completely crazy year it has been:

I left my job of 12 years. Learned to drive. Had an operation, as did both my Dad and my Mum. My Aunty, my Dad’s younger sister died. My little brother returned from Spain. My sister took a sabbatical and is also travelling around South America. Josh’s niece and 2 of my brothers all had children – my very first niece and nephew! And I went travelling for 6 months in South America: first stop Brazil (where I am now!)  

So yes, for me, 2019 has been a year of relentless and fundamental change. But 2019 has also definitely paved the way for a very exciting 2020 that is possibly going to be the most memorable and the most fulfilling year of my life thus far. 

There is a tradition here in Brazil that on NYE everyone wears white.

Not wanting to be outdone by the glamorous Brazilians and their yearly traditions, Josh and I rustled together some white outfits and looking and feeling fresh, picked up our chilled bottles of Champagne that we had been requested to bring with us and went to meet our friends for the event to top all NYE events in Bahia: A private dinner party at the best restaurant in Trancoso: Capim Santo.

Capim Santo had decided to close the restaurant on one of the most important dates of the year where they could have made an absolute fortune and do what many others were doing and charge thousands of reals for people to get a reservation there, in order to put on a private “friends only” dinner for some of the most wealthy and well connected people in Trancoso, which included some of the wealthiest people in the whole of Brazil. And us! Josh and I had been invited too!

Just how on earth we had managed to blag our way into an intimate private party for the elites and high society of Trancoso was beyond my comprehension. We had only been here for a couple of weeks and hardly knew anyone really but the people that we had met were obviously an influential and treasured part of the community and they liked us enough to bring us along as their guests! Unfortunately, our Dutch friend couldn’t make it as he had come down with the flu the night before, so it was just going to be the 4 of us. Not even the longterm residents and friends of these guys had been invited to this special New Years celebration so this was some honour.

Not being a native Bahian (who were always characteristically late so I’d been told), we were naturally the first ones to arrive so we went for a few drinks on the Quadrado first instead before rocking up to the place ravenous and ready to enjoy some true Bahian cuisine!

The huge bamboo doors were firmly closed to the public, displaying a prominent white sign on the door telling everyone that they were holding a private party so it was with a great deal of pride that I strolled through those doors and into the restaurant to join the awaiting party. As soon as we walked in both Josh and I were greeted warmly by the hostess who wore an elegant white dress, smiling widely at us and welcoming us in, saying that she remembered us from the last time that we were there. It was nice to be remembered especially since we had only dined there once before. 

I remembered being impressed about this place when we came before but tonight it was in a class of it’s own: walking through it’s maze-like tropical gardens, the cool breeze carried with it the sweet scent of fragrant Bahian flowers, handmade lanterns made from rattan swayed lazily between the trees and white balloons adorned the restaurant whilst fairy lights cast a soft romantic glow illuminating the faces of the beautiful people who all wore white to commemorate the occasion. It was simply magical.

I felt as though I was gliding in this exotic oasis as I took in the sights of people sitting at tables, standing up, talking and laughing with one another, impeccably dressed in the perfect colour for a fairytale wedding or summer party. The relaxed ease with which people conversed with one another and the intimacy and naturalness of the place made me feel as though I was at a wedding party, as if I knew everyone and everyone knew me, though of course this were not the case. Not long after arriving and handing our bottles to the staff we were being plied with flutes of perfectly chilled champagne.

We were introduced to “Mrs Trancoso” herself, THE woman who was largely responsible for the development of Trancoso into the characteristic and beautiful place that it is, before a glass of champagne magically appeared in my hand again. 

We ended up sharing a table with this lady, who seemed to know everyone in the entire restaurant, which I guess would be the case when she was the one who built it. She told us that she had arrived in Trancoso back in the 70’s (though she didn’t look a day over 45), and along with a handful of other people she turned this place into one of the most memorable locations that I’d ever had the pleasure to visit.

Through her intense desire to preserve not just the nature that Trancoso was a part of, but also the native culture and the glamorous simplicity that this place exuded in a sustainable and eco friendly way she had (and was still!) battling the big corporations and big money in order to retain that which makes it what it is. I was impressed with her commitment and what she had managed to achieve.

I couldn’t imagine how it must have been to arrive here when there was “literally nothing but jungle” and turn the place into this amazing travel destination that people were literally tripping over themselves to visit, especially when after 5 weeks I was still battling the “wildness” of the place, so to think that it was 100 times worse then this doesn’t even bare thinking about! Yet here she was, telling us stories of how it was back then, when you had to use a machete just to see a metre in front of you. Can you imagine the beasts that lurked within the jungle then? Never mind the albino gecko – that hungry leopard had his beady eye on you! 

The guy that was with her was an actor apparently, though our Airbnb host seemed to think that he was more of the struggling variety as she said that she’d never heard of him, and he couldn’t speak very good English which in comparison to this woman, who seemed to be very worldly and confident seemed a little odd. He didn’t appear to be very comfortable in this extremely moneyed environment as he told us that he didn’t know any of these people as they were from “her world” whatever that meant. No idea what he’s doing with her if he feels so uncomfortable around her circle of friends as it was very obvious that this was her life.

I could almost smell the money in the place but the people who were present, wealthy or not, seemed perfectly friendly to me and according to our friends I had again been receiving lots of nice compliments from the guests, who were curious as to who I was, including from the Trancoso woman and her partner. Naturally I was flattered, but also a little surprised as at a private party such as this if it were held in London, people wouldn’t usually give a flying fig who was present, attractive or not unless they knew exactly who they were or it was someone that they could perhaps get something from. Just goes to show you how different some cultures are.

Dinner was a buffet affair. I know I do not like buffets but thankfully this was buffet of the elegant kind. The food, a variety of local dishes, had been prepared beautifully and displayed on a large smooth stone table in an enclosed bamboo hut in the middle of the restaurant. Just walking towards it, amongst the towering trees and sweetly scented flowers, a wonderful Brazilian singer creating the perfect ambience in the background, the diamond stars twinkling away in the night sky was such a magical experience. None of it felt real really. I almost had to pinch myself that here I was in Brazil with all of these lovely people all wearing white, in such a magical environment such as this, floating towards a table full of lovingly prepared Bahian cuisine, Josh and newly made friends by my side, chilled champagne in hand, and about to bring in a new year in such spectacular style.

To top things off, as we had been invited as guests, the NYE dinner was 100% free! We weren’t required to pay anything at all – the whole thing, the food, drinks and entertainment was all complimentary. Yes, we did have to bring a bottle of champagne with us but our bottle had long finished – we were now drinking flutes from the champagne “reserves” that they seemed to have an unlimited supply of. Considering we were thinking about going to El Gordo for dinner where they were charging diners a cool £300 for NYE dinner (minus unlimited Champagne), I thought that it was quite impressive that they were prepared to do that.

We didn’t stay for dessert as we had arranged to meet some other friends on the Quadrado and then we planned to go back our Dutch and Brazilians friends home to bring in the new year. I could already see that the Quadrado was getting full of people and I didn’t particularly want to be there when the countdown to the new year began. I much preferred the idea of bringing the new year in with our small group of friends (and 3 dogs) in the rooftop of their lovely home where we could watch the fireworks above us.

Surprisingly though, back at the house, when the time came to say Happy New Year, the floodgates opened up and it rained down. Torrential rain just in that moment that was both sudden and intense. After getting soaked and my dress ripping in the process of jumping on a motor taxi to get there, I changed into one of my friends gigantic white t-shirts (perfect for his 6’5 frame, not so flattering on my 5’5 frame), and continued the festivities from the comfort and safety of their balcony. Alas, nothing (not even torrential rain) could dull my happiness after such an incredible night.

My mind swiftly went to the thousands of Trancoso revellers standing around on the Quadrado which has no protection from such an onslaught,  while it rained down on them relentlessly as they brought in the new year and I was thoroughly relieved that I was where I was, bringing in the new year with my new friends. It was certainly a New Year’s celebration that I’m not likely to forget anytime soon!

Josh and I at Capim Santo on NYE (before my white dress got completely soaked!)

Brazilians love a party. Unfortunately for us their eagerness to throw a bash coupled with the time of the year we arrived here meant that the villa’s around Trancoso, including those next to ours, were being rented out and people had been having parties ever since they had arrived. Normally this wouldn’t bother me if said people had the decency to notify us of their intention to have an allnight party but they didn’t and it was LOUD. And I mean LOUD LOUD. Not satisfied with listening to music at a high volume on a normal stereo our neighbours had taken to providing a full on professional sound system and were blasting out tunes all hours of the day at volumes that were designed to compete with the beach club located over 200 metres away. The music was so loud that our chalet was literally vibrating from the noise.

One morning in particular, I was rudely awoken at 5:00 am from our beloved neighbours, who decided that it was the perfect time to start a full on rave. They had clearly just returned from a party and now they felt the need to continue the party back at the house (which is not in an isolated location) at 5:00 am in the morning, waking both Josh and me violently from a deep and very satisfying sleep. How bloody rude! Thankfully I heard the music go off shortly afterwards and some yelling ensued so I expect another neighbour went around there and gave them what for!

#paradisefound at Rabanete Restaurant

We’ve tried most of the restaurants here now (well the ones I’ve wanted to try anyway). We haven’t ventured much outside of the Quadrado for food though as there is enough restaurants to choose from here and though I have been made to understand that the food is much cheaper at the local establishments, I haven’t been encouraged by what I’ve seen when I’ve walked past them.

Many of them outside the “tourist friendly” area always looked very dark and dingy, had questionable smells emitting from them and had an open front leading out onto a busy main road making me worry about the barratas that may be lurking within. I know I should “eat locally” and usually I do but price isn’t the only factor to take into account – eating locally for me is on a case by case basis as I cannot deal with dirty establishments, unpleasant food smells and the look and feel of a place matters – there are enough barratas here as it is!

Our friends (the English school teacher and her Brazilian husband), invited us to a restaurant near where they lived. This we knew would be outside the Quadrado as they had told us that where they currently lived and where they were building their new house was a scooter ride away. They said that the restaurant was a new one and gave us some directions to explain to the taxi driver – we didn’t want to chance trying to find the place on foot. However the restaurant had no name so we knew that this was going to be fun!

We walked down to the taxi rank, but it being New Years Day and everything, there were absolutely no taxi’s to be found. So we had no choice but to walk to the next taxi stand but again, there was nothing. Also there were hundreds of people milling about and the traffic was at a stand still. There was no way that even if we managed to miraculously find a driver who wasn’t ferrying people to and from the variety of extortionately priced parties that were on tonight, that we would get to the restaurant anytime soon, especially when the restaurant didn’t even have a bloody name and we couldn’t communicate all that well with the driver to give him further directions so after a little hesitation we finally decided to take the plunge and walk it there instead.

As we walked past, we said happy new year to our friends at Tao Cho and I couldn’t help but notice how especially disappointed his wife looked tonight. I mean she always had a disappointed look on her face but it was especially pronounced tonight. Perhaps it was because the full was packed full of happy faced revellers, on their way to party, to dinner or to meet up with friends for drinks, and again they were stuck there in their tiny little vegan restaurant working. Remind me never to open a shop! 

Because it was especially busy tonight night, our walk to the restaurant was slow going whilst we dodged in between all of the tourist who were piling into the square. We weren’t using data whilst we were travelling so we were essentially relying on a map that didn’t update which was a bit of a challenge. We had been told by our friends that the restaurant was past the large Supermarket and the Praca Da Independencia which is where most of the locals hung out. We had infact never walked past there before, and with the sketchy looks that some of the locals were giving us as they were not used to gringo’s (Josh not me), walking this far out of the Quadrado, we were keen to find this place soon. Eventually after some searching we found the turn off that we were looking for.

The local shops in the area didn’t inspire much confidence as they were rundown and dirty looking with sweaty men in old vests leaning against the door entrance. It was then that I remembered that we were still in a second world country which I had often forgot in the bubble of living near the Quadrado. Oh absolutely, many people in Brazil were doing well (especially in the large cities like Sao Paulo and Rio), but that was only for a very small portion of the population. Most of these locals would never see the kind of money that was being frittered away in the high society establishments of the Quadrado. And in many ways that small area was not just becoming a victim of it’s own success but was the indicator of the inequality that existed. Even I knew that it was expensive here, but for me coming from the West I guess I didn’t fully grasp just how expensive. For the people who lived here, whose families grew up here, staying at the pousada’s or dining in the restaurants was simply out of reach. And it was only through leaving the quaint square that you could fully appreciate this stark reality. 

The road that we were told this unnamed restaurant was on was dark, with minimal lighting and hardly any infrastructure that we could see. Also, we weren’t entirely sure how far down the road we would have to walk to find it as we hadn’t been given a proper address. We had now walked for almost 40 minutes and both of us were feeling very hot and bothered and we were hungry and frustrated with the extremely lackadaisical way of doing things here. We simply couldn’t understand why Uber didn’t operate in Trancoso, why Taxi drivers couldn’t pick us up from home, why many people had absolutely no knowledge of the English language whatsoever, or why our friends couldn’t just give us the name and address of the restaurant that they wanted us to meet them at.

Instead we had to play this constant guessing game and everything just seemed far more (unnecessarily) difficult then was appreciated. I didn’t particularly want to be skulking about under the cloak of darkness amongst the locals who loved to stare, making it abundantly obvious that we didn’t know where the hell we were going. After walking down this dark and indescript road for about 10 minutes and seeing no sign of life and no end to the road, we turned back around, stood outside a shop that actually had some lighting and pondered our next move. How would we find this place when all we were told was that it was behind a huge bamboo door? – there were LOTS of bamboo doors on this road. And we didn’t want to turn on our data to call them so we decided we’d just have to walk down the road again and prepare to really look (in the dark) for this bloody bamboo gate.

Thankfully as we entered the road again we noticed a very inconspicuous sign with markings on it as to how far down the road certain establishments were and then we saw one called Primitivo which said it was an open fire restaurant (which our friends had mentioned), so we figured that must be it! 

Finally we arrived at this restaurant which was very cool with a huge open BBQ, situated amongst lots of wonderful trees with hammocks, benches where large groups of people could gather together and even a musical duo strumming along on their guitars, sitting on a patterned blanket underneath a tree. It was all very hippy, very bohemian here. But not the “off your face”, “I don’t wash very often” and “I wear the same tie-dye clothes everyday” kind, but the floating linens, large sunglasses and mysterious perfume kind. 

We were the first group to arrive but soon after lots of other people turned up and we didn’t really even notice them as we were too engrossed in our conversation. The food was really tasty – much more creative then the other food we’d been having, though the plantain with bacon pretty much burnt the roof of my mouth completely off it was so hot. The restaurant was new which would explain the lack of customers and the lack of signage I guess but it made a nice change and we thought that the place had real atmosphere. Shame about the musical duo though, they really weren’t very good yet they had the cheek to come around the tables asking for a donation for their efforts! 

The following day after both Josh and I lost our sunglasses in the rough seas while swimming we went to my restaurant namesake #Vitoria where I was FINALLY able to convince Josh (who isn’t keen on trying things he cannot easily identify) to try the typically Bahian dish Moqueca.  

On almost every menu where they served Moqueca here in Brazil, they served it in the buffet establishments or the serving was meant for 2 but Josh wasn’t convinced when I told him that all it was was a kind of mild seafood curry, alas today he said that he was prepared to try it.

The Moqueca served at Vitoria was made with Coconut Milk and had tomatoes, onions and other vegetables in amongst very moist fish and prawns. As with many Brazilian dishes it didn’t have a very strong flavour, and neither was it spicy hot but it was surprisingly tasty and comforting. It reminded me of a good old home cooked meal. It was served with farofa, that sawdust like accompaniment the Brazilians love that I had recently had a change of opinion on after having it at Oxe served with (seasoned) grilled chicken, black beans and rice.

After having it with that combination where everything had been properly cooked and was hot, I could well understand why the Brazilians loved it so much. I set about devouring the stuff until there was literally only crumbs left on the plate. Similarly, the farofa here at Restaurante Vitoria was also very good and so was the Moqueca which thankfully Josh also enjoyed! It was not blow your mind good but it was hot, hearty and flavoursome: proper comfort food that along with the farofa was really quite enjoyable.

It was especially pleasant because for the first time we had left the house early and grabbed an excellent table in the restaurant so we were able to people watch whilst drinking a #Caipirinhaaday whilst the sun went down and it was not only extremely comfortable and relaxing but it was very romantic too. 

Bahian Cuisine at Restaurante Vitoria: Moqueca with Arroz (rice) and Farofa (that sawdust/powdery looking substance that’s actually really good!)

People here really dress up in the evening. There are lots of boutique shops in and around the Quadrado selling beautiful little dresses that I would love to own if a) they weren’t so bloody expensive and b) I didn’t live in England. These kinds of dresses and skirts, floaty, feminine and brightly coloured, simply do not work in cold countries, but here they work very well. On the beach women wear biquini’s with brightly coloured, patterned sarongs tied around their hips. This is very much #beachliving, which I believe Brazilians with their almost 8,000 kilometres of beachline, are made for.

We keep on seeing the “Cashpoint Pataxo” around town, and there’s another annoying character, who Josh has named “The Thespian” as he wears these baggy hippy like pants, has straggly brown hair and a very effeminate gait and body posture. Unfortunately our friends also know him too so we were introduced to him at some point but he can only speak Portuguese thankfully so he doesn’t attempt to converse with us. He has a big banana shaped head with hair that looks decidedly unwashed and this annoying soft and wispy looking piece of hair underneath his chin (aka bum fluff), that hasn’t quite made it to be referred as a beard and he prances about the place, selling cheap looking cotton bracelets with emblems on them which is all a little too Shakesperean for my tastes. Josh really doesn’t like him, so when we see him we usually hide, lol.

Most of the locals here assume that I am Brazilian so even when I tell them:

“Noa Falo Portugues” (which just means “I don’t speak Portuguese”) they still go ahead and talk back to me in a speedy torrent of Portuguese – they simply cannot comprehend the fact that I’m not from there and do not understand what they are saying!

Another day, another #acaibowl with kiwi, granola, coconut, nuts, strawberries and banana! Deeelish!

We’re getting to the end of our time here. Would you believe that it’s been almost 3 whole months that we’ve been in Brazil? – that’s almost the entire time that we went away to Thailand and Bali which is completely insane. I don’t think that I will love Colombia as much as here but I will of course leave myself open to being pleasantly surprised. I do think that Colombia will be very beautiful and much easier to live in perhaps especially since there are alot more expats there and many people doing what Josh and I now do: Digital Nomadism, however it remains to be seen whether the people will be as friendly, the country as beautiful or it feel quite as magical. Our first stop in Colombia: Medellin has no beach so we need to make the most of the time here in Brazil as far as the beaches go as I know that I am going to miss them.

But I guess that is the beauty of travel:

Every day is an adventure!

Week’s 3 & 4 in Trancoso, Bahia

Week’s 3 & 4 in Trancoso, Bahia

There’s an albino gecko in our bathroom.

I’m not a big fan of gecko’s to start with, but I’m especially not keen on ones of the albino persuasion. Call me prejudice all you want but  seeing a big gecko with almost translucent skin suddenly scurrying across ones bathroom walls is not something that I wish to get used to. In contrast however, I have to say that the gecko’s here are not as numerous nor noisy as I thought that they’d be. When we were in Thailand there were lots of them in our villa and those ones were noisey, especially at night when we were trying to sleep. They would creep into our bedroom and begin making this horrible clicking sound on the ceiling above our bed and coupled with the intense heat that was already making it hard for me to sleep, I couldn’t help but worry that at any moment one of the crusty cretins would drop from the ceiling onto me!

In contrast, the gecko’s here seem to keep themselves to themselves (albino or not). They hide during the day and the only time we really see them is if we suddenly come back from being out allday and go straight into the bathroom or they appear during the night when we get up to go to the toilet. Other then that we don’t really see them during the day at all and aside from the occasion baby gecko that we’ve found in our bathroom, they keep themselves pretty well hidden and they tend to stay out of the bedroom. Also, we haven’t seen a barratas aka cockroach in our apartment for a couple of weeks thank goodness. So it’s just the mosquitoes we’re battling now…and they simply will not let me be!

Our chalet is located along  the beachfront, seperated by the dense mangrove trees, the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. 

Slow Living

The art of slow living can be found here. When we first arrived I remember feeling immediately relaxed as I strolled along the leafy, picturesque Quadrado. The people here don’t rush much, don’t fuss much, life is simple and they really take their time living it. As we’ve found out, living here is very spontaneous affair and we really got to experience this spontaneity on our way to dinner one evening.

We had planned to go to the plant based restaurant Tao Cho but it was closed so we walked down to the Creperie with intentions of having a savoury crepe there instead but as we passed the Supermarket we bumped into one of our newly made local friends, the Dutch Viking looking friend,who was the husband of the Brazilian man who had invited us to celebrate this birthday with them the week before at Capim Santo. We soon got into conversation with him and before long, 5 minutes turned into 10, turned into 15, and then along came our Airbnb host who was also passing by on her way to dinner somewhere, and then the Brazilian guy arrived and other locals either joined in the conversation or came over to say Hi. Before long there was a large group of around 8 or 9 people congregating outside the Supermarket (and probably blocking it too!) laughing and making merry and none of us had planned to meet at all – it was completely random.

The guys were planning on going to the Sushi restaurant and invited us to join them. This was the norm here. You’d walk down the street (to be fair it was the only “main street” in Trancoso), and in doing so you would bump into people you knew (or didn’t yet know) going about their leisurely business and so you’d join them for dinner or drinks or a dance. You could never be bored or lonely here. 

I thought that it was great. People seemed to be friendly and tactile, there was lots of kissing and hugging between friends and family and a natural warmth and openness between the locals that I really liked. And the environment was very conducive to this way of life. For a start it’s small village like feel had a feeling of intimacy, the environment was very laid back and of course it didn’t hurt that it was beautiful at all times of the day.

In the morning you could walk along the Quadrado and see only a handful of people walking around, usually people selling fresh coconuts, handmade jewellery, chocolate and dream catchers as the sun came up. The cloudless blue sky, the piercing green vibrancy of the trees and the colourful pousada’s lining it was picture perfect. In the afternoons the restaurants surrounding the square would be open and lots of people would be milling about eating outside in the sunshine whilst beautiful well kept horses strolled on by enjoying their exceedingly good life.

In the evening, lanterns and fairy lights would be strung up in the trees providing a romantic glow to the atmosphere, and if you were lucky to get there just before the sun went down then you could have the best of both worlds watching local musicians strumming traditional Brazilian songs on their guitars.

 Of course this place was catering for the tourists, that was undeniable, but it was also undeniable that this place had an authenticity and beauty that made it unique and it had a tranquility that was very hypnotic. Brazilians considered this place to be the secret jewel in their crown and they came from all over the country to experience it. We felt very lucky to have discovered it!

Life on the Quadrado

We were flattered to have been invited out for a very impromptu dinner with our new Brazilian friends after randomly bumping into them in the street but we didn’t fancy having sushi that night so we thanked them and went on our way. Unfortunately for us Tao Cho was closed so we went onto the Creperie where we had another amazing crepe, we then passed by the Quadrado on the way home to pick up a Tapioca Pancake for dessert which we had with banana, coconut and chocolate! The combination of having a savoury crepe for dinner and a sweet tapioca pancake for dessert was great but unfortunately they put WAY too much chocolate sauce in the Tapioca pancake which spoilt it.

The following day we went back to Tao Cho and this time it was open. We had a long conversation with the owner and his wife who had a constantly disappointed expression on her face. Judging by how she responded when we enquired about their plans for the Christmas Holidays, I figured that the disappointed expression on her face had alot to do with her probably being overworked, overheated and underpaid. Both originally from other parts of Brazil, she told us that she had spent some time in New Zealand which I knew was known for having a pretty good work life balance. Yet here she was in Brazil, in one of the most hot and humid parts of the country, working her ass off (she was the main cook in the restaurant as they hadn’t found a fulltime chef yet), doing very long days to realise what was soon becoming clear was her husbands dream of living somewhere beautiful and hot whilst owning a vegan restaurant. She seemed to be doing all of the hard work, cooking in the hot and very small kitchen whilst he went around conjuring up elaborate vegan recipes and making small talk with customers like us!

They were not getting to experience the “slow living” that this location was all about. They were working and working hard in extreme heat and humidity that was at times too a little too much even for us and we were living the slowest life possible, lol. Also, their “restaurant” was far too small. It was more like a hut really. How she could be cooking these elaborate plant based meals which required alot of imagination and ingredients prep in that tiny kitchen in the intense heat was beyond me. And that probably explained why whilst we were sitting there talking to the owner and drinking our cups of Kombucha (another favourite drink of ours that we first had in Bali), we saw a cockroach scurry underneath the floorboards. And then we saw another one that had earlier been squashed on the floor! 

It was so humid in that restaurant that it probably attracted those horrid barratas like noone’s business! Alas, the fact that I was able to still remain sitting in the restaurant where I had seen a cockroach is a testament to my tolerance level increasing with regards to encountering these horrible beasts.

It of course also helped that I didn’t see the thing inside the restaurant, it was outside in the seating area. When we saw a cockroach/barratas in the pizzeria in Florianopolis, we never returned there again. But to be fair, the people making the pizza’s in that restaurant looked questionable anyway. We figured that if they had seen one in the kitchen they would probably let it roam free whereas this man saw it at the same time that we did and tried to kill it immediately afterwards.

Oxe Club

We didn’t want to go back to Fly Club again because despite the fact that it was in a good location next to the stunning purple lake and characterful mangroves it was difficult to get to unless it was low tide, and the playlist that they had at Fly Club which we initially thought was great, seemed to be the only one they had! We could hear the music from our apartment balcony during the day and we heard them playing the same playlist over and over again and guess what? – it wasn’t THAT good. I couldn’t bare going there to hear the same tunes playing over and over again and by this point I was getting to know the order of them too which really wasn’t good at all.

So we walked in the opposite direction and we came across Oxe Club, which was next to Uxua (the hotel owned by the owner of Diesel) and it looked very similar but was perhaps a little less posey. The waiters there were very friendly and the food was good. I ordered a fresh Coconut which surprisingly would be my first in Brazil! Despite the fact that fresh Coconut was sold everywhere I hadn’t been in the mood for one before now but thankfully it was as good as I’d hoped it would be. When I’ve had fresh Coconut before (apart from the one I’d had at Finn’s Club in Bali), it was always warm and watery but this one was actually cold, fresh and had a lovely delicate coconut flavour. This one was definitely the best coconut I’ve had and it was so refreshing! We swam in the sea here too which was much easier to do as the waves weren’t as high. The water was clear and so so warm. Simply divine. For me, the wildness of the beaches here, and the abundance of them make them so attractive. Brazil has a beautiful beach for every day of the month!

The heat is in the early thirties everyday and I’ve kind of gotten used to that, but the humidity I cannot. Even when it’s overcast the humidity is crazy and just getting to the shops is a massive effort. I realise that I perhaps shouldn’t complain as if I was asked if I wanted to trade it in with the climate of England then I would say HELL NO, however, getting up and ambling up the hill to go the shop in order to get food supplies doesn’t count as a very productive day in my book, lol.

My braids need redoing. They have lasted pretty good thus far, but I always intended on getting them redone at the halfway point and as we only have another 2 weeks her to go we are getting to that point! I asked one of our friends if they knew where I could get them redone here (since I haven’t seen any Afro hair salons here in Trancoso and I couldn’t find any when I looked online), so they gave me a number of someone they said done braids and I sent the girl a WhatsApp message but she didn’t bother messaging me back. I tried to message her again but again she didn’t respond so I’ve given up. Looks like I’ll just have to get it done in Colombia! 

We’re loving the coffee here. We drink it everyday (espresso), and sometimes I even have it as an after dinner palate cleanser. Also beer. I’ve been having lots of beer which I normally wouldn’t really drink. The Brazilians drink a lot of beer here so I’ve been joining them alas I’m going to give it a rest now as I don’t want to return to England with a beer belly! Lol 

We haven’t left Trancoso yet but that’s partly because of the time of year (Ian’s birthday is the day after tomorrow, and then it’s Christmas and New Year), partly because we’ve been working, and also because tbh we haven’t really wanted to. Trancoso is afterall the main event in Bahia! However we have identified a few places that have been recommended to us that we would like to go to before we leave but again, we’re in no particular rush to do them so we’ll probably go after New Year.

Nativo’s Beach

Moonlight Dancer

We were invited to a music festival with our “Brazil Family”. Apparently it’s a house music festival in celebration of an African deity (aka mythological spiritual being) called Orisha Oxala that was brought to Brazil with the religion of the African Slaves. Oxala is one of the 12 God’s who the locals worship and like many other supernatural beings that human beings conjure up in their minds, it still retains followers/believers because of course, you cannot disprove what does not exist therefore the belief persists. Despite my skepticism about the existence of this deity I liked the fact that it was an authentic tradition with such a long history so when our Airbnb host friend told us that it was an event for the locals that the tourists weren’t really interested in attending then Josh and I told her straightaway that we definitely wanted to go!

Oxala festival was their Midsummers night celebration, which commenced at sunrise and ended at sunset. Apparently it was to go on until around 6:00 am the next day (Josh’s birthday), but I had plans for that day and I didn’t want to be destroyed as a result of partying too late so we agreed that we would leave the party around 1:30 am.

I really wanted to make Josh’s Birthday special. He deserved it but it had been much easier to organise something special for his birthday when we were in Thailand partly because of the ease of finding out what was going on in the area and because language had not been a barrier: most places in Thailand spoke at least a little English, at least enough for me to make a reservation. But here I had limited ideas because there was no centralised place to find out what events or activities were going on in the area, plus Josh was still suffering with a bad back since the first night we’d arrived here so I knew that he wouldn’t be able to do anything too strenuous. And then of course there was the language barrier. Many places in Trancoso and in Florianopolis didn’t have a way for you to book on their website (where at least I could use Google Translate), they only offered telephone numbers and many of them didn’t have a website at all, only Facebook! I mean I know that they’re laid back here but really this is a little too laid back!

I couldn’t find any birthday cards or candles in any of the local shops and most of the time Josh and I went shopping together which made it doubly hard to look without him finding out. Also, there were no cakes! Well not whole cakes anyway and I didn’t want to get a shitty Supermarket bought one. So I was in a bit of a pickle. I knew that he wouldn’t really appreciate a “thing” as he much prefers experiences as presents and in any case Amazon was only a recent thing here in Brazil, and the selection of things on Amazon.br was pretty poor. No, I wanted to take him for a nice dinner in the evening instead which thankfully I had managed to secure in the best restaurant in Trancoso, El Gordo. And before that my plan was to take him to a beach club called Casa Clube in the afternoon which had been recommended to me by my Brazil family, where I had organised for them to meet us for surprise drinks and lunch. 

Josh had mentioned that morning that he still wanted to do the Wind Surfing that he had previously expressed an interest in so I told him to book some lessons and I’d pay for it. I was very relieved that I hadn’t gone ahead and paid for the lessons before he had confirmed that he was well enough to do it but after discussing with him that that’s what he would like to do, I was happy to know that we had been on the same page!

Deciding what to wear for this party tonight was a lot harder then expected. On one hand I didn’t want to just go in shorts and a vest as it was a party afterall and these were Brazilians: they looked good in anything. But at the same time I wanted to be comfortable (meaning not too hot), so in the end I decided on a strappy black dress which wouldn’t be too casual, was suitable to wear to a party but not too fancy and was skimpy enough for me to dance and therefore, sweat in. Of course I didn’t want to sweat at all but unfortunately I didn’t have a choice in the matter as this place was just too bloody hot!

The party was being held on a farm just outside of Trancoso about a 40 minute drive away. The organisers had put on vans so that the party revellers could get there and back with no issues. We went to a local bar in the afternoon to pick up our tickets. Ours said VIP on them which did make us wonder what extras were included but apparently that was just for the van there and back and a free alcoholic drink each. This wasn’t a party for the roped off VIP crowd party types, this was an event for the locals who just wanted to watch the sunset and sunrise in a beautiful, natural environment whilst listening to great music: It sounded like the kind of party that was made for me!

Very concerned about the fact that it was being held on a remote farm (with limited toilet facilities so I had been warned by our friends), I made certain that I coated myself heavily in the supposed insect repellent Avon’s Skin So Soft Oil Spray and a heavy dose of 50% DEET Jungle Formula for good measure. I seemed to be the favourite meal of the day for these abominable mosquitoe beasts and I was not going to be destroyed by them again tonight if I could possibly help it!

Our Airbnb host said that she also wasn’t planning to stay until the very end and as we were leaving to go to the party at 8:00 pm I thought that 5 hours of partying was quite enough. I had spoken to the Brazilian and Dutch couple earlier that day and they had confirmed that they would not be coming to both the party that night and Josh’s birthday lunch at the beach club the following day and I told them that I wasn’t aware that they were planning on coming to both and that if that was the case then I would much prefer they come to the lunch as that was on Josh’s birthday afterall but when I went to the bar to meet our other friends there they were at the bar. However they went onto dinner first though and didn’t end up making it.

When we arrived at the party venue after an extremely bumpy and dusty journey to the venue which was much quicker then the 40 minutes I had expected, we soon realised that we were literally the only ones there. Located in a huge expanse of forest between beautiful tall trees and overlooking a valley with a winding lake a few metres below, I could hardly see anything it was so dark but what I could see I could only imagine would be breathtakingly beautiful during the day. The place certainly had alot of atmosphere and was quite magical really.

They did have some lights but nowhere near enough to illuminate the darkness of the surrounding woodland. When I was told that the party was going to be on a farm I was imagining the worst: long, unkempt muddy grass and lots of bushes and trees but it wasn’t like that. It was more flat dry soil then anything else, the trees were very spread out and there were a variety of places to dance and sit. And there were even proper toilets (not portaloos as I was imagining!), infact I had been warned previously that there might only be 1 toilet which would undoubtedly be too disgusting to use so I was preparing to wee in the bush! Now I didn’t have to. Hurrah!

The sound system was loud and bumping and from what I could hear they were playing some good, deep house music which is exactly what I was hoping for The only problem was that we were the only ones there, and I couldn’t work out why as we weren’t the first to arrive – this party had started at 5:00 pm and it was now 9:00 pm so we weren’t being “too English” by turning up too early. Alas, it didn’t bother me too much because the place had food in the form of a food stand around the corner, toilets for men and women, a bar, lots of places to sit down and most importantly, good music that seemed to just get better and better as time went on.

After holding it for as long as I reasonably could I finally made my way to the ladies toilets. Modern they were yes, but free from creatures they were most certainly NOT.

As soon as I approached the bathroom I could see that it was teaming with these big ugly looking black beetles. They were crawling everywhere both inside and outside the toilets, on the walls, the floor and even in the sink! The beetles looked as though they may have been dying as the ones on the floor and on the sink were twisting over and over. Perhaps the organisers had sprayed the place with some kind of chemical to get rid of them or something but either way, alive, dead or dying they were vile. Big, shiny, black and too many to count, I felt quite ill looking at them but I really needed to go to the toilet so I took a deep breath and went into the toilet cubicle accompanied by 2 juicy black beetles writhing around on the floor.

As I was doing my business I kept my eyes on them, watching them closely as they writhed around on the floor, opening and closing their wings as if they would fly at me at any moment. Bloody horrible.

When I went to the sink area to wash my hands I was shocked to find that it was even worse – the entire sink area including the floor, wall and the sink itself was infested with them. I realised that I was either intoxicated (and I hadn’t had that much to drink), or I had turned some kind of corner with regards to my tolerance for creepy crawlies as I was able to put my hands into the sink with 8 shiny black beetles (who were still alive) and wash my hands whilst they were crawling around in it frantically.

Afterwards I left to join my group of friends and Josh who were on the dancefloor dancing to a really good deep house tune and before long I found the flow that I had hoped to find as tune after tune after tune came on in rapid succession, until I completely forgot that anyone was was there.

I was totally in the vibe. 

A soft breeze kissed my skin under the moonlight, I loved the feeling of being so free in this open and vast natural environment, it had such a magical, special energy about it, surrounded by all of the ancient trees in the middle of nowhere overlooking the winding lake below. There were so many beautiful places like this is Brazil and I was always being surprised at the depth of beauty it had. The sound system was excellent, the music had a deep, raw tribal sound that accompanied it perfectly. I felt so alive it was as if I could fly. I was completely immersed in the vibe, feeling every beat of the music completely unaware of who might be watching.

About an hour into dancing I was approached by a Brazilian girl who was as beautiful as many of them are, talking excitedly to me (in Portuguese). Naturally, I didn’t understand a word of what she said but the expression on her face seemed so earnest that I grabbed one of my friends who could speak and understand Portuguese and asked her to repeat it. When I found out what she said I was beyond flattered. The girl said had she had come up to me because she said that she had felt compelled to tell me how beautifully I danced. She had thought that I was a native Brazilian and had been so impressed with how I moved that she wanted to know if I was some kind of a dancer! Me? A dancer? And a BRAZILIAN one at that?! – well I have to say that compliment tops them all! lol.

Turns out the girl could speak English afterall – she was actually pretty fluent, she just didn’t realise that I wasn’t a Bahian. So we began talking and I found out that she was originally from Sao Paulo but was in Trancoso until the beginning of January. She told me that she loved Trancoso so much that she couldn’t help but keep on coming back (a sentiment I thoroughly understood). We talked about other travel destinations that we’d both been to and she told me what she did for a living (she was a digital marketer for the Brazilian equivalent of Amazon).

She was really sweet and genuine and we swapped numbers and said that we’d try and meet up whilst we were both still there.

I perhaps should be used to it by now, but the openness and friendliness of the people here is very surprising. I have never experienced anything quite like it before. Unfortunately, the food at the venue left alot to be desired. We had banana with farofa, which is like a root which looks and tastes like a root (or sawdust!) that the Brazilians like to put on meat or fish usually. Since it has the look, texture and taste of sawdust I’m not entirely sure what the benefit is of having it on ANY food but it seems to be a Brazilian staple. Perhaps it’s for the purpose of making people feel more full? Or maybe it has some nutritional benefits that I’m not aware of? either way they served the sawdust with cubes of fried banana (which was COLD) and my new friend Luciana was perhaps even more disgusted with it then I was. She said that it was the worst farofa that she had ever tasted. So, pretty bad then, lol.

Despite the music being excellent, with a stream of DJ’s waiting to play until the early hours when the sun came up, the place remained empty. No party is great without people being present but I didn’t care all that much because I was just enjoying the music. According to our friends the advertising of the event hadn’t been very good and most people had only found out about it a couple of days ago. Also, Brazilians are renowned for not turning up for events apparently. Whether it’s an event that they’ve previously paid for or a dinner party at someone’s house it doesn’t matter, if they don’t feel up to it they simply won’t show up, and coupled with the unprofessional/extremely lazy way I’ve seen them advertise events here I figured it was inevitable that the organisers wouldn’t have the numbers they were hoping for.

But the promoter (who seemed to know Luciana) seemed VERY upset that the party was so empty. Despite us being there for a good 6 hours when we left to go and get on the awaiting van to take us home at 2:30 am in the morning he came and addressed the entire van (which was pretty much the entire contents of his party!), to try to explain why it had perhaps been such a disappointment and said that he was sad that we were leaving. But all I was thinking was that we had planned to leave at 1:30 am so we had stayed an extra hour, partly because the bloody van that was supposed to take us home hadn’t turned up and partly because the music had been too good to leave and I still had some dancing to do. But now it was definitely time to go!

Midsummers Oxala Party 

At the party earlier on in the day

The next day (Josh’s birthday), the girl I met the night before text me suggesting that we meet up for lunch! I mean such a thing simply doesn’t happen in the UK, small town or not. These people are unbelievably friendly! I apologised to her, telling her that it was Josh’s birthday and I actually had plans for the day but that I would be happy to meet up at some other time.

Needless to say after getting home after 3:00 am Josh and I was feeling pretty destroyed when we woke up. I cooked him breakfast with the limited food supplies we did have and then I set about trying to make his day as good as I could despite having no actual birthday card to give him (I had sent him an e-card instead), no birthday cake or candles and no present! Also, I was still feeling a little hungover from the night before and I had woken up with a fresh load of mosquitoe bites no doubt a present from the mossies who were ecstatic to find me bare fleshed and ripe for the sucking dancing wildly in the middle of the jungle. Alas, Josh wasn’t to know all this and he certainly deserved to have as good a day as was possible.

Afterall, despite all the things that I had wanted to get to make the day perfect, we were already in the most glorious of locations in beautiful Brazil, we had lovely friends to meet, drinks to drink, food to eat, and we had the sun, sand and sea on our side! So, we weren’t doing too badly at all!

I still didn’t want to tell him what I had planned so I just told him that we would spend the day on the beach relaxing. It’s what I had planned anyway but we both REALLY needed a chance to relax now as we were feeling a little worse for wear. The only thing was that I didn’t know exactly where this beach club was but from what I had understood it was quite a walk away. After about 20 minutes of walking Josh, who was still very much hungover so in a worse state then me, started to enquire why on earth we were walking so far on the beach, where we were going etc and it took everything in me to keep it a secret as I my legs felt like lead too and walking along this beach with it’s extremely thick sand that sloped into the sea, was no easy task. The sun also couldn’t have been more intense. It was knackering!

The more I looked over at Josh, who looked exhausted and bewildered the worse I felt about making him walk all this way just to get to a specific beach club but I told myself that it would be worth it in the end. All of our Brazil Family planned to meet us at Casa Clube which was all the way at the other end of the beach and in a secluded location, and today they had a DJ playing chilled out music for what they liked to call their “Sunday Sessions” so I figured that it was probably the right place to take him for some proper rest and relaxation on his birthday with friends before our big dinner later that evening.

After 40 minutes of walking down the beach we finally made it there and when we were taken to a large table with “proper” wooden chairs and a beautiful hand carved wooden table I knew that we had come to the right spot.  Soon after our friends turned up to surprise Josh who was definitely operating at only 50% but who was happy and pleasantly surprised to see them nonetheless. He did however ask me (worriedly) whether they would be joining us this evening too and I assured him that no they would not, it would just be the two of us. 

Even I understood that this meeting up thing was getting to be a little too regular, but of course it was still lovely to be invited!

The lunch was wonderful. Many of the other Brazilian beach clubs (and restaurants) were so close to one another that they had competing music. Rather then them agree between them a time to play music so that they didn’t clash with each other, they each played their respective music at full blast and it sounded horrible. But this place was so far away from all of the other beach clubs that they could play their music as loud as they wanted to and not disturb anyone else. They also had a prime position on the beach that made the most of the surrounding landscape. The waiters (many of whom surely must have been gay), and all of whom were very attractive, walked around wearing ONLY swimming trunks (the teeny tiny kind that shows everything), and some swim boots, and I was surprised (and elated), to see that whenever they felt like it in between taking orders they would simply dive into the sea and go for a nice swim in the sea! The girls were wearing swimming costumes too but they didn’t look as good somehow, lol.

During the lunch, suddenly a group of waiters appeared with what at first looked like a cake (with candles on!) singing happy birthday to Josh! I really wasn’t expecting it at all and when I asked around I found that one of our friends had organised it knowing how hard it was for me to find a birthday cake in Trancoso (it was a sticky grated coconut which was very delicious). I was very touched that they had gone to such effort for us.

Afterwards one of our other friends called El Gordo, the restaurant I had booked for his birthday meal, and changed the time of the reservation for us as Josh was insisting that he needed a nap before we went out that night as he was feeling so destroyed from the night before and we couldn’t converse with them in Portuguese in order to change it. Despite me booking it early so that we could see the beautiful views surrounding the restaurant before it turned pitch black as was the norm at around 7:00 pm,  I wasn’t going to argue with him as I was feeling pretty destroyed myself! I thanked all of them very much for being so awesome and we left them to go for a snooze before the main event!

As we walked back to our apartment we spoke about how how lucky we were. 

How easy it would be to get used to this and forget how good it was for us to be able to have this experience. To be in such a beautiful place as this. Just watching the way the light hit the water was a joy, the unbelievable blue of the sea that was always so warm, clear and ready to swim in, happy people playing beach games and all of the lovely people we’d met on our journeys so far. To be able to not just sample this new culture but to really immerse ourselves in it us such a special priviledge. To taste the food, drink the drink, hear the music and go where the locals go. And all without rushing! without being on a timescale. Without worrying that we had a flight to catch or anywhere in particular to go. What a sweet and wonderful thing this is. And how very lucky we are. No, we didn’t want to take this for grated at all!

Feeling refreshed and ready to have a great celebratory meal in a lovely location we got dressed and went to the restaurant. Again I hadn’t told Josh that we were planning on going there so he was pleasantly surprised when we walked into El Gordo. 

It was a very classy restaurant, which had a prime position on the Quadrado where the colourful wooden tables decorated with flickering lanterns overlooked a beautiful pool area with elegantly white drapery and a panoramic view of the valley and the picturesque beach below. Through the reflection in the window I saw the exceedingly handsome American news anchorman Anderson Cooper, who I knew had a home built here in Trancoso. Sitting in the same restaurant as us with his husband, there he was in a private room decorated as a treehouse connected to the main restaurant, wearing his trademark black rimmed glasses with those distinctive piercing blue. 

After weeks of Josh and I listening to the Trump impeachment saga play out and watching Anderson’s increasingly more apparent exasperation about this diabolical and utterly hideous president being able to do and say whatever he wants and more then get away with it, he looked very much at home and relaxed here in this tropical and unassuming environment. Good for him I thought, he deserves it just for being an American! lol

Thankfully Josh’s dish was good according to him but unfortunately mine was not. For my main I tried one of their “Portuguese dishes” – a codfish gratin which was not nice at all. I was a little suspect about how good it would be when I ordered it since when (apart from Nando’s) do you ever see Portuguese food on a fine dining menu? I rest my case.

And unfortunately for me it was not only not very nice – it was far too salty (they seem to LOVE their salt here), there was too much fish in it which had no flavour and was too dense, and the cheese as with most of the cheese that I had tasted here, simply wasn’t up to par. The cheese here has no flavour! None. Even the Parmesan is mild. And I do love me some cheese so this is a huge disappointment.

Josh had a steak, which came with risotto and he really enjoyed it so I was happy about that at least. For dessert I ordered the Tiramisu, but it was perhaps the worst (or one of the worst) Tiramisu’s that I have ever tasted. I mean I’m even comparing that to the delivery Tiramisu’s that I’ve had on occasion. Really. It had no body – it was almost completely flat, the cream wasn’t creamy, and I couldn’t even taste any sponge or the alcohol in it – infact the only thing I really did taste was the coffee powder sprinkles on top! Bloody awful I tell you. I couldn’t believe that this was the kind of food that they were serving celebrities and the like and this was supposed to be Trancoso’s best restaurant? Get outta here!

On the other hand Josh really enjoyed his dessert. So who knows what’s going on in that kitchen!

Josh and I at El Gordo

Christmas Home from Home

We had been invited to spend Christmas day at the home of our newly friends, the gay couple who had a home in the hills. The Brazilian and Dutch men had built their home themselves with the help with another local builder, the Brazilian husband of another British woman we’d met. The British woman, like Susan, arrived in Trancoso a number of years ago and fell in love with the place and after meeting her Brazilian husband a few years ago they set up home together, bought some land and are also planning on building their own home here. We were reliably told by our Brazil Family that our hosts home was beautiful and judging by how highly creative and passionate they both were we could well believe that this was true. They were artists. The Brazilian was a great painter with a dramatic flair for colour, and the Dutchman who was a school teacher back in Amsterdam where he still spent half the year, liked to paint too. Together, they were commissioned to create 1,000 paintings inspired by Trancoso in Europe, which is how of course they discovered the place only to decide promptly upon arrival that they were moving here!

Being in an exotic location on Christmas day was definitely a bit of a treat. Though we had spent Christmas in a foreign country a few times before, it had always been just the two of us which had been perfectly fine with us but it was also nice to do something different this year.. Christmas back home was always a joyous and noisy affair spent alternating between my adorably loud and boisterous family and Josh’s quieter but also very lovely, fun family. So to have Christmas away from the over commercialised, cold and gloomy environment of the UK on occasion was very refreshing indeed, especially now that it was essentially a Brexmas Christmas! In other non European countries like Brazil, Christmas wasn’t really a thing and so we put our time to best use by spending the day on a glorious (and largely empty) beach.

All of the dinner guests had been asked to bring a dish along with us so I set about making some Spaghetti Carbonara and Spicy Portuguese Rice to go with the rest of the dishes that people were bringing.

Since it didn’t feel anything like Christmas day I decided that I wasn’t going to bother making anything typically Christmassy and in anycase we were in Brazil, not England – they probably had never even heard of pigs in blankets or onion and sage stuffing!

Getting to their villa was no easy task. Indeed, shopping for the ingredients for the dishes I planned to make was no easy task. We had to go to the Shopping Centre, which was located a knackeringly 25-30 minute walk away in the intense Bahian sun, to do our shopping and then try to explain to the people who worked in the Supermarket in broken Portuguese that we needed them to deliver the shopping to us at our residence which had no actual address. 

Yes, these people liked to do things the hard way. Rather then providing a proper address like any other normal person would, they liked to operate within this vague zone of describing where things were using landmarks. In this instance the landmark we had been told to give them by our Airbnb host was the pousada on the corner of our road “La Refuge” but the shop workers only looked confused when we told them this and we were finding it increasingly hard trying to communicate to them where it was.

In the end after 10 frustrating minutes of trying to describe to them just where our place was, we gave up and called our Airbnb host. Thinking this would be easily resolved by someone who could speak the native language fluently, we were surprised when even she struggled to communicate with them. After around 20 minutes of waiting around whilst the shop workers passed the phone around to each other with confused expressions on their faces, we finally got a thumbs up from them, meaning (we hoped), that they knew where to bring our shopping. 

We were completely out of food in our apartment but that wasn’t what worried me the most. What worried me the most was that we were out of water, and since we couldn’t drink the water from the tap, that was a very big problem if they didn’t deliver it to us later that day. To make sure that we didn’t miss the delivery we told them to give us 30 minutes to get home which was just about how long it took us to navigate the steep, dusty, uneven streets in the heat.

Another cause of concern for us, and a major one judging by how much of it we went through because of it’s highly addictive nature, was Acai, which we bought multiple tubs of but now every single one of the Supermarkets in the area had completely sold out of! Neither one of us could live without Acai we had decided, and now that we had discovered it’s fresh and tasty delights, we were completely hooked. We had even started searching for it back in the UK so that we could be fully stocked all year round. 

This delightful Amazonian berry was delicious and went with everything. It was sweet (but not too sweet), and people here had it both to accompany savoury and sweet dishes. We liked to have it as a smoothie, or as a bowl, with banana and other fruits, granola and coconut flakes. Alot of places served it with honey but it didn’t need to be sweetened anymore, it was sweet enough. Perfectly sweet actually. We had bought another brand of Acai recently (before seeing that it was made by the quite dodgy Nestle company!), and in comparison to the other locally made brands that we’d had, concluded that it tasted horrible. It was far too sweet and it tasted almost synthetic. It was nothing like the natural Acai berry.  I knew that we needed to find some proper Acai soon because Joah and I had already started to get withdrawal symptoms, lol.

Thankfully, after about an hour someone turned up at our place with our shopping, but because of the extremely vague nature of the directions (and despite him talking to a local to refine it), the driver still went past our place TWICE. Just shows you how impossible the task would be if we would have to give the directions ourselves, as if the owner of the property, a local who can speak the language cannot do it, then how the hell could we be expected to?

Coconut Chips and Acai – a few of my favourite things

Now here we were in one of the most exotic of locations in the world about to spend time with new local friends we’ve made in their beautiful home on Christmas day!

We felt very honoured to have been invited and were excited to see their home. Since it was clearly a mission to get a taxi here since nobody knew where anything was, in order to get a taxi one was expected to walk to the taxi rank in order to hail one (which kind of defeats the purpose of getting a taxi does it not?), alas as I’ve said, things can be a little backward here! Our Airbnb host actually had to go on her scooter to the taxi rank in order to get a taxi driver to follow her to our apartment to pick us up and take us to our friends home. I hope you’re following! To me, such a thing was utterly ridiculous alas this was the reality of living in this location. Despite it being a very small town and people knowing each other, the taxi drivers used landmarks to find peoples homes, most of which were built from scratch and had no door numbers so were almost impossible to find.

Once we had been picked up (food and drinks and a Panettone in tow), we were taken up the ridiculously bumpy and steep hill to their villa which was hidden amongst the densely packed tropical jungle. As soon as we arrived we started hearing dogs barking behind a HUGE ornately carved wooden door so we guessed that we had arrived as we knew that they had 3 dogs. A couple of seconds later out came our friends greeting us with huge, welcoming smiles on their faces. They were still dressed in their day clothes though and despite us arriving much later then we said we would they of course told us that we were early! We followed them in, through the utterly stunning tropical gardens which felt like a sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of the busy and getting busier town. A stunning variety of exotic, colourful flowering trees and plants adorned the gardens, with coconut and palm trees planted throughout. It was hard to believe this was not a hotel/pousada let alone the home of just 2 guys (oh and 3 dogs and 29 chickens, we can’t forget them now can we?). But it really was something. Like an oasis of peace.

When the guys had originally told me that they had 29 chickens the very first thing I asked them was did they smell as I know chickens to have a distinctively “off” musty smell and I could imagine that the heat only intensified it, but when I asked them if they smelt, they said no, they did not. They told me that because their grounds were so big (their plot was 3,000 sq metres!) with no nearby neighbours, the chickens truly were free range. These chickens could roam and range til their hearts were content and now that I had seen it for myself (the chickens did have a pen but it like the whole property was huge), I could now confirm that not only did these chickens not smell at all (I couldn’t even detect a whiff of an unpleasant smell), but they were infact living a very good life indeed! Not to mention the dogs, who were roaming around the stunning property like they owned the place, and perhaps in some ways they did, lol.

The house also was stunning, it had a panoramic wrap around ground floor balcony which housed an abundance of beautiful artefacts, vintage chairs and tables (many of which they’d made themselves). A long stone bench with decorative throw cushions and an abundance of hammocks tied up between trees and hanging lazily from the ceiling completed the homely, colourful and bohemian styled home. It was gorgeous. The kitchen was large and open, perfect for entertaining, featuring lots of paintings and artwork hung on the walls which they told me that they had made themselves. The home felt very personal and intimate,and felt very comfortable, and they had spent many man hours not just decorating it themselves but actually making things there such as the gigantic wooden door we had come through when we arrived. Like most of the houses here, it was outdoor living to the extreme. It was both inviting nature in and incorporating nature into the design.

The shower room and sink was located in a beautiful outdoor tropical rainforest area that they had made themselves with a beautiful stone freestanding sink. It was both natural and elegant. I wasn’t surprised at all when they told me that they occasionally had the odd frog in the bathroom area as it looked like it was an environment where a frog would be very much at home! I wasn’t sure how much I would be able to take of this “outdoor living” as as beautiful as it was I wasn’t well equipped enough to deal with the abundance of wildlife that such an environment attracted. But I did acknowledge it’s beauty.

I never forgot the Balinese styled home we stayed in in Bali, that we eventually had to leave after being under siege by every and any unwelcome creature in the natural world. Bats, giant snails, worms, geckos, mosquitoes and cats made their way into our “open living” home with a casualness that neither of us were feeling. We had no choice but to leave – they had taken over. 

Their home had no doors and or windows, just holes cut out of the concrete providing a stunning view of the surrounding jungle. On the first floor was their King sized room complete with mosquitoe net (it wasn’t just us getting bitten then), and then the piece de resistance: A roof top lounge area where they’d put some blankets and pillows down for us to watch the stars later. 

The stars here in Bahia, were a thing of beauty. They were close and bright enough to see flickering in the night sky each night and it was a beautiful and magical thing to behold. This was where we had also been invited to spend our New Years Eve, bringing in the end of the year with our new friends whilst watching the surrounding fireworks from the whole of Bahia. What a joy.

Dinner was a wonderful affair though it being so hot none of us ate very much. We didn’t even touch the spicy rice that I’d made as we were all so full even after hardly eating anything at all. Dessert was a refreshing and delicious caramelised banana with ice-cream. We had fresh Caipirinha’s made by Fernando, and too many beers to drink. Being there, listening to traditional Brazilian music, on a Christmas night that didn’t really feel like Christmas, with such friendly and welcoming people in such a unique and beautiful environment felt very special to us. That night will stay in our memories for a long time.

The following day was the UK Christmas Day where it IS a big deal. We got home really late after having a long, leisurely dinner, lots of drinks and then retiring to the rooftop to watch the stars. So we weren’t feeling in the best of conditions when we woke especially early to call both of our folks. We called Josh’s family first, and I was feeling so bewildered and groggy that I could scarcely talk, but of course they were there, Christmas jumpers and all, sprightly as you like because they are 3 hours ahead and it was Christmas Day there, something they had all been anticipating in the UK for the entire year! Whereas we were devoid of energy and it didn’t feel anything like Christmas where we were. Nonetheless they were in good spirits and very much looking forward to the feast ahead.

Then I called my family, who weren’t likely to be eating anytime soon. I enquired about my new nephew (almost 2 months old already!), and my niece, who was now sleeping in her glamorous white bed looking like sleeping beauty herself. I hadn’t seen her (or my nephew for that matter) on Facetime yet but now that I could see her sleeping there I was in no doubt of what a huge beauty she was. She was utterly stunning, looking like a little doll – completely serene wearing a little teddy jumpsuit, delicate features resting with her little balled up fists on either side of her. A beauty indeed. I spoke to my brother and sister in law about how it was having her in their lives so suddenly and they confirmed what I’ve always known: that it’s bloody hard! Alas, I’m sure that they will become accustomed to it. After so long of it being just the two of them, now to suddenly have this tiny helpless being, that they had an indescribable amount of love for, to take care of and care for, must be alot to adjust to. But I was in no doubt that they both had what it took to devote themselves to bringing her up well, and as for me, well I just couldn’t wait to rain down an abundance of kisses and cuddles on her! And I looked forward to doing the same to my nephew too who I’d heard was getting very big!

The following day we woke up and were on our balcony and suddenly we heard some chirping coming from the trees surrounding our chalet and then we saw them: Monkeys! We’d been previously told by our Airbnb host that there were lots of monkeys in the area and they liked very much to jump through the trees, run on rooftops (which we’d definitely heard), and even come into the chalet, but apart from one time where we’d seen a small family of them because food was being left out for them by the tenants below us, we never saw any monkeys. But this morning we saw a big group of them, many of them babies, and all of them adorable, playing and jumping through the trees and one even jumped on our roof and poked his head down out of curiosity to get a better look at us and like the cheeky monkey he was, to see whether we had any food for him – he even put his hand out to request food! What a cheek, lol.

I was simply delighted to get to live amongst these beautiful and highly intelligent animals, our evolutionary cousins and to see them up close and personal without having to pay to see them or make them do stupid tricks like so many questionable people like to do in other countries and places around the world. I can imagine that they might be a bit annoying if there’s a large group of them and they are hungry because they are intelligent and brave enough to go into people’s homes and take what they want but they will find no food left out in our apartment trust me!

Cheeky Monkey 

Pataxo Indians are the indigenous Indians that inhabited Brazil before the Portuguese came to “explore” it, force them out of their native lands and kill and probably rape their women. They have largely gone from the state of Bahia but the ones who do still live here live in their rural lands still in the traditional ways. They have to learn to live here amongst this strange new world though and many of them straddle a life living as a Pataxo Indian and living a modern life, and this is never more apparent then with the Pataxo Indians who walk around Trancoso wearing their traditional clothing including a grass skirt, feather headdress and painted bodies. Of course clothing aside, many of these men (I hardly ever see the women), are stunning looking, with chiseled handsome faces and muscular bodies, primed for hunting. The problem is that some of them (one guy in particular) that I keep on seeing he hasn’t yet decided which way of life he’d like to live. I see him with his red painted body, huge feather headdress, barefooted on the Quadrado trying to chat up foreigners and on more then one occasion I’ve seen him in the cash point in the Supermarket!

I’m not sure why I’ve got such a problem with him using the cashpoint, afterall he needs funds (though I admit I did wonder isn’t he supposed to forage for his food or something?), alas perhaps to me using a cashpoint is the ultimate sign of modern living, even more then him trying in his extremely poor English skills to chat up the foreigners.

A Pataxo Indian should not be using a cash point, I’m sorry. 

Sushi Samba

We decided to go for sushi as I really had a taste for it and most of the restaurants were packed full of diners. I was glad that we had arrived in Trancoso weeks ago (almost 4 weeks), as it was steadily getting busier and busier and the contrast was like night and day. Even during the daytime the Quadrado was packed. And don’t even get me started on the beaches! Now that we knew alot of the business owners in the area as we passed by we would usually wave to them as we went, but now we couldn’t even see them in their establishments it was so busy!

Thankfully we were able to get a table at the sushi restaurant and we had a lovely meal there, and then went to our favourite creperie to see our French lady friend for sweet crepes. The combination couldn’t possibly have been better. Afterwards we were strolling back home through the Quadrado until suddenly I saw our Dutch friend wandering towards a band who were setting up in the middle of the square. As soon as they started playing I saw his distinctive 6’5 frame bobbing up and down with his gigantic arms and hands dangling down like a puppet as he danced (very badly) to the music. Nobody else was dancing mind. But the band was good and he was having himself a good ole time. He was adorable. So of course we went over to him and then in a matter of minutes his husband joined us. It was just like old times!

Soon they had us going over to the singer who was about to perform outside The Coffee Bar telling us that she was a very famous singer in Brazil. Neither Josh nor I knew ANY Brazilian singers let alone ones who were famous, but apparently this woman was the real deal and we could soon attest to that as we saw that once people realised who it was who was singing they starting crowding around her, filming and taking pictures of her. The music was Farro, of which she was the Queen of, a typically Brazilian style of music, that sounded very folky and had alot of hand clapping and dancing that accompanied it. It wasn’t really my cup of tea (I much preferred Bossa Nova), but there was such an amazing energy in the place that I was just happy to be there. 

There was lots of touching, hugging, kissing between people, everyone was having a great time and indeed I felt very much a part of it. Here was a group of people utterly elated to see this star whose name I found out was Elba Romalho, and their happiness was infectious. Our friends starting talking to people, and in turn then so did we and soon we met this lovely girl called Joanna from Sao Paolo who pretty much invited us to connect with her as soon as we visited her hometown!

For the purpose of our Brazilian friends back home, I got a picture with Elba as I knew that they would be super impressed that I had a chance to meet her and then we all floated over to the other live band who had been playing such good music earlier on. We danced the night away, met some other people, danced some more, and I genuinely couldn’t be happier in that moment. The energy was electric, the location resplendent and there was magic, love and friendship in the air.

I couldn’t possibly wish for much more then this. 

Me with the Brazilian Farro Singer Elba Romalho 

Naked (Sweaty) and Afraid

Unfortunately our popularity with the locals has come at a cost.

Wonderful as it was to be able to meet so many lovely and interesting people in our travels that we would undoubtedly remain in contact with and come back to visit, we were now being invited to so many places and events that our bodies simply can’t catch up. If we weren’t meeting up with people then we would bump into them walking down the street and then another late night filled with dancing, music and laughter would ensue and there was simply nothing that we could do about it. However, it’s our Airbnb host that’s the worst.

Seeing or hearing from her was almost becoming a daily occurrence. Despite the fact that she didn’t even live nearby she would turn up for the silliest of reasons and then try and engage us (me in particular), in a long and drama filled conversation, which ultimately followed an invite to this or that event, beach or home. And since we largely worked from home we couldn’t escape the woman, plus she was doing our washing so we couldn’t be rude to her, lol. It had nothing to do with whether we liked her or not (of course we did), but I was getting the distinct impression that she (who was English) was thoroughly enjoying having some English speaking company around as other then that she was largely surrounded by Brazilians who though friendly, could be a little unpredictable. But it was now getting out of control. When we knew we were going to be at home we had began hoping that she didn’t turn up as then she would disturb us whilst we were trying to work and it was very hard to get rid of her!

The morning after our Sushi Samba night we were especially tired as it had been yet another late night socialising with people that we hadn’t planned and both of us really hadn’t had a chance to catch up with our sleep. Our bodies were telling us that we needed some slumber! But sure as not we could hear her fussing outside our door no doubt hoping to wake us up so that she could engage us in a day long conversation. We had already declined a number of invitations for this reason – we were getting “partied-out” and needed some just the two of us time. We were not used to all of this and we don’t like to overdo it – we like to balance the equilibrium and these people (her in particular) were putting it out of whack with their constant social invitations! 

After we realised we could delay no further we eventually went out onto our balcony after having washed and dressed and as expected there she was ready to gossip away. Eventually she did leave though and then it was all quiet again.

She told us that we had been invited to Capim Santo on NYE by the Brazilians, the restaurant we had gone to for our friends birthday dinner, which was also the restaurant that had a “friends of Capim Santo” only invite list of which we were not on because a) we didn’t live there and b) we had only been there once. But since we were friends of people who had been invited a pass had also been graciously extended to us which was an honour indeed. All we had to do was bring 2 bottles of champagne with us.

Capim Santo was definitely the best restaurant that we’d been to in Trancoso. It was located off the main stretch so felt much more intimate and tranquil, was beautifully decorated, the food and service was great and the musician who had played there the night that we went was amazing. To think we would get to eat there on NYE amongst friends was the best possible way to bring in the New Year that I could have imagined!

As Brazilian tradition, everyone wears white on NYE and if you’re close to a beach then you go down to the beach and jump the waves 7 times to bring in the new year.

After dinner, the plan was to go back to their house to watch the fireworks and bring in the start of the New Year on the rooftop.

The Spider-Crab

We had largely gotten used to the family of crabs at the bottom of the stairs leading up to our apartment and who scurried away whenever we opened the gate to leave or enter but what I was not used to, and neither could I deal with, was a spider-crab. Josh noticed what looked like a spider near my suitcase which I had pushed underneath our bed because this place was severely lacking in storage space and I didn’t like clutter. But when he went towards it and it didn’t’ scurry quickly away and disappear into thin air as spiders are want to do he remarked that it looked very crab-like. I surmised that it couldn’t possibly be a crab as how would it have gotten in here and anyway this one didn’t look like the crabs at the bottom of the stairs. This one looked like a spider-crab!

That spider-crab has gotsta go I tell you!

Access All Areas

Somehow we have managed to find ourselves on the VIP list of Trancoso. The gay couple we know are very well established here and after living here for more then 11 years, they know everyone, the schmancy people, the dodgy people, the shop owners and the celebrities who live here and everyone loves them (which isn’t hard to do as they are so much fun and are so loving, sweet and generous).

So if we want to go to an event, much like that “invite only” party that we gatecrashed a couple of weeks ago or the “friends of only” NYE dinner at the best restaurant in the area, we get to go!

Well tonight after only going out for a pizza! we bumped into our beloved friends again, met some new ones and then the night turned into another riotous affair that went on until after 3:00 am the following morning, whereby we over to the Quadrado for drinks, visited our friends at the plant based restaurant, had a dance at the Tapioca stand, listened to some music outside The Three Amigos and then we gatecrashed yet another private opening party just by virtue of the fact that we were with them.

 At the party we were introduced to the owner of Diesel who owns the Uxua hotel and who lives there in Trancoso, we also met the wife of the owner of the restaurant Jacare, along with the owner of a boutique dress shop who was originally from Portugal, but spent 7 years in London and now lives here after finding that when she arrived she couldn’t leave (a very common story!) 

But despite the fun frolicks, it was the experience of how people treated me that night in particular that will remain firmly imprinted on my mind.

Apparently, according to our new group of friends, I am the talk of the town. People are apparently in awe of me and think that I am the most beautiful girl that they’ve ever seen! 

I have had lots of people come up to me telling me this since I arrived here, both in Portuguese and in English (Brazilians no less!), gay and straight, black, white, mixed or trans, whether on the beach, the street or the Supermarket and at this party that I have been left flattered almost to the point of overwhelm. To be complimented by Brazilians for me is the ultimate flattery, and from gay Brazilian men in particular.

 People here in Brazil have a habit of staring. They will just stare at you and feel no shame. At first, I really couldn’t understand what all of the fuss was about and it’s not my “exotic blackness” as I am definitely not the only black girl in town! Brazil has the highest number of people of African descent outside of Africa. Brazil is such a melting pot of beautiful blackness that I’ve ever seen in my life and these Afro Brazilians and indeed most Brazilians are very good looking people. Besides, these are not sexualised compliments being given to me, I know those kinds well, no, these compliments are coming from gay people as well as straight and men aswell as from women. 

Our gay friend told us that he is very much enjoying all of the attention he has been getting in Trancoso since being seen with me.

He was told by an admirer at the party that they thought that I was very beautiful because of the “light in my eyes”, so perhaps it’s not my beauty they are admiring afterall, perhaps what they’re seeing is something much purer then that: happiness.

We’ve got our white outfits and bottles of Moet ready as tonight it’s NYE! Bring on the good times!

Week 2 in Trancoso, Bahia

Week 2 in Trancoso, Bahia

Festival de Cinema de Trancoso

Lots of events happen here, but if your not in the know, then you can easily miss them. This was evidenced by the fact that when I told some of the locals (including a school teacher), about the nativity play at L’Occitane Teatro that we went to see they didn’t know anything about it. The same happened with the Capoeira and Samba event on the Quadrado – we couldn’t find where it was for love nor money, there was no signage or promotional posters advertising it and nobody seemed to know that it was even going on. Thankfully we found it in the end and we were glad that we did as it was a fantastic event.

Frustrating though it is, the charm of the place is partly it’s mysterious and almost mystical nature. The bright, colourful stone pousada’s on the Quadrado are a mix of private homes, restaurants, boutique shops and bnb’s and it’s hard to tell which are which as they all pretty much look identical. Also, like many of the businesses in European countries the cafes and restaurants around here close for lunch – around 12:00 – 14:00 everyday and no matter how hard we try to remember this we keep on getting caught out by wandering out for lunch at around 13:00 only to find that almost every place is well and truly FECHADO’D.

I saw a poster (at last!) advertising an upcoming event. A cinema night showing classic Brazilian films free for everyone to attend. It was going to be held on the village green, the famous Quadrado, with the classic films projected on the heart of the Quadrado: the UNESCO protected white church: São João Batista.

Character up the wazoo! 

It was going to be happening just after the sun went down, so we took our blankets, some bottles of water and off we went. We had gotten used to things not happening on time here in Brazil so we made sure to arrive “fashionably late” as as expected the film was just getting set up on the projector. We had been here just over a week and already we were starting to recognise some of the locals. Sitting on the grass wearing their distinctive white outfits were the class of the Capoeira school who had come to watch the films too. When the first film to commence the film festival began, I was happy to see that it was a black and white film based in Salvador about Afro Brazilian fishermen. It was a silent film but it was very visually striking.

Watching a classic Brazilian film underneath the stars

Afterwards they showed another film based in Bahia in the 50’s of Afro Brazilians practising Capoeira, which would explain the whole of the Capoeira class being there. Created by African slaves brought to Brazil in the 16th century, Capoeira, a ritual dance mixed with elements of martial arts used by the escaped slaves for survival in this hostile territory, was eventually criminalised after being seen as a threat to the “order of things”. Eventually though it was decriminalised and is now widely seen as an art form and part of Brazil’s cultural heritage. The history of slavery in Brazil is an interesting, albeit disturbing one. The Portuguese were the first of the European countries to use slaves to boost their economy and Portugal being a smaller country, also had another sinister reason: they liked to use African slaves, as opposed to Arab, Chinese, Japanese or Indian slaves which they also had but on a much lesser scale, as they were easier to convert to Christianity, and thus control.

Knowing that Capoeira is a product of colonial brutality gives it another interesting edge, and certainly it is a beautiful and very bodily expressive art form. The film which was also in black and white was filmed close up of Capoeira fighters all wearing white as was tradition, engaged in a stunning and elegant contact free dance with men playing string instruments that sounded like a banjo but looked a little like a harp and and maracas and the singing that accompanied the film sounded very West African. The locals watched the film with respect without talking while it was playing. I felt honoured to have been there watching this piece of local history on such a beautiful starlit night.

12.12.12

Today was My late Aunt’s memorial. Since arriving in Brazil I had already lost one Aunty, my Dad’s sister, but nothing was as devastating and hard to process as losing my Mum’s youngest sister who died 7 years ago on this day. Usually I would be at home with the family doing something to commemorate it as she was very special to us all, but tonight in Trancoso was the full moon so Josh and I went to the Quadrado, where we watched it rise from the sea to cast a reflective glow on the surface. And it occurred to me for the first time since we lost her so suddenly affecting me in a most deep and profound way that is hard to put into words, that now that I have just become an Aunty myself for the very first time, with my nephew being born just a few weeks ago and my niece due anyday now, that I have had the pleasure to have the most incredible example of what an Aunty can be in her but also my late Aunt and the ones I still are lucky to still have. And even though she passed away far too soon and the manner of her death is still so heartbreaking to us all, I was so fortunate to have had her in  my life and her legacy of love.

Full Moon 12.12.12

The people are very friendly here in Trancoso. We have now made friends with the owner of the coffee shop, the French woman in the creperie and the owners of the vegan cafe Tao Cho. We had been meaning to go to Tao Cho since we’d arrived but the place was so small, (tiny infact) that it got crowded easily so we planned to go when it was less busy. Originally we had only meant to go there for coffee but we got chatting to the very friendly owner and his wife and so decided to stay for dinner. They had a completely vegan menu that was a little hard to read at first since obviously it was written in Portuguese on a chalkboard and they didn’t have any other menu’s, but with a little help from them we decided to try their pineapple rice. The rice came in a hollowed out pineapple and had chilli, fried onions, coconut milk, lentils and pineapple chunks. It looked good and tasted good too, it reminded me a little of the curry’s we had in Thailand because of the coconut milk which featured in lots of Asian dishes, and also because it had a bit of a kick to it, something that was severely lacking in Brazilian food generally.

Pineapple Delight 

The internet here is bloody awful. It takes me approximately 3 days just to upload a 40 second long video and thus it

has become enough of an inconvenience to put me off. Trying to work when it’s 30 degrees outside and the WiFi is suspect is as you can imagine quite a challenge and going in search of food in the height of the day when walking anywhere requires such energy, is even harder. The only activity you can do here really is to relax, whether that means sitting underneath a shaded tree reading a book, lazing about in a hammock, sunbathing on the beach or having a leisurely lunch outside a cafe. All good things and ones we like to do also but we do need to have WiFi in order to do some work. Our balcony is big enough to do that and we get a nice sea breeze here but the WiFi being what it is means that we are having to rethink that strategy.

Looks like the Conservatives and therefore Boris Johnson has won the general election. Despite not following the developments of the election in the UK (and being very relieved to not be there to be subjected to what surely must be a miserable environment for everyone involved), despite my earnest efforts to be uninformed despite this we were eventually told of the fact that the Tories had won AGAIN. Of course Brexit was the main motivation behind many people’s decision to vote that way but it is somewhat disappointing that people are so willing to vote for a party who for the most part have been in power for the longest and done the most damage to people like them, who are not going to benefit from any further cuts to services and in a more broad sense the social erosion of decency and fairness. Not to mention the questionable motives people have for wanting Brexit and Boris’ pallying up to Tramp Trump, I’m not convinced it’s going to get better after it’s gotten worse (if it even can get any worse that is).

I was a person who wanted Brexit initially (though I didn’t vote for it and have no intention of staying in the UK to benefit or not of it happening), but after all of the right wingers who this process has emboldened and who have now been ligitamised by Boris Johnson’s appointment as PM I’m not so sure it’s such a good idea afterall. But I guess we’ll have to see. I just think it’s VILE how Jeremy Corbyn has treated by everyone, the opposition and the media especially. I’ve never seen a politician so vilified and he had never even been handed the keys to Number 10. I have always marvelled at the strength of character he must have to be so despised but then still go on to fight for the poor and working class of the UK.

The issue I have is that some people who are against him don’t even know why they are. They are wholefully uninformed and woefully ill informed. Fake News? – in the case of Jeremy who has only ever had good intentions for the UK and society as a whole it’s been fake news all the way, and it’s bloody worrying. I think with this kind of small minded thinking it only serves to prop up questionable beliefs and dangerous ideologies that are largely used against minorities and the disadvantaged, and when these ideas are given a platform it gives legitimacy to them and spreads around the world and becomes the norm. People who are they themselves poor or part of the lower or middle classes and vote for a party whose sole purpose is to keep wealth within the 1% are kidding themselves. It’s high time that people part with the tradition of voting how their families and communities vote and educate themselves so that they actually know who and what they are voting for.

Jungleist Massive!

Gecko’s excreting their white tipped poo on the bathroom floor, mosquitoes sucking the life out of me causing me to have an allergic reaction, crusty cockroaches who pop up every now and then to scare the bejeezers out of me, crabs at the entrance to our apartment, monkeys scrambling over our roof and goodness knows what else lurking in the mangrove trees and jungles bordering our chalet now I’ve just heard that snakes are also about. Poisenous ones. This is a most wild and unpredictable environment. I’m getting somewhat used to the idea that at any moment I could be subjected to seeing something hideous looking that skulks, flies or crawls, but the thing that is somewhat harder to get used to is walking down the pitch black dirt track at night hearing the sounds of the jungle reverberating loudly in your ear but that you cannot see.

Nativos Beach

We are lucky to be living on one of Trancoso’s most famous beaches Nativos. Like many of Brazil’s beaches, it is not one that has been made perfect, but is perfect because of it’s abundantly natural beauty, it’s uniqueness and it’s subtle but stunning changeability. Everyday it is different. When the tide is high it creates a pool that increasingly gets wider between the lake and the sea forcing people to wade through it in order to get to the other side. The colour of the lake changes from blue to green to brown to purple! It’s hypnotically beautiful.

Mangroves and palm trees border the stunning, wide, sandy beach. The sand is wonderfully thick and soft with a vivid golden hue, but unlike the beaches in Floripa they aren’t so soft as to slide off the bottom of ones feet, they actually do the exfoliation that a good pumice stone does! When the tide is low you can walk the 3 hours to Arraial d’Ajuda, another beach town that is apparently well worth the look. We have stopped going to the beach on the weekend as it gets really busy but during the week it’s almost empty, we can get a bed at any of the beach clubs that we want and enjoy the beach almost completely to our selves.

There are lots of horses on the beach too. The owners of the horses strut them up and down the beach occasionally offering to allow people to ride them (for a fee I’m sure). The horses though are gorgeous. You can see they have been very well looked after as they are lithe and muscular with a shiny coat and bushy tail. They also don’t have that horrible “wild and unhinged” in the eye look that some horses do.

Both the beach and the Quadrado have that rustic beauty that is hard to describe but looks otherworldly beautiful and feels magical. I completely understand why people have fallen in love with this place. We have already seen people starting to arrive by the literal coach load which is changing (aka spoiling), the laid back vibe of the place. The locals who live here all year round apparently dislike this time of year, NYE especially as the whole area is crawling with people and it gets overcrowded almost to the point of overwhelm. I can imagine that for the locals, many of whom moved from busy cities to enjoy a more laid back lifestyle here, the onslaught of sweaty bodies mustn’t be particularly enjoyable.

Brazilians love to play bat and ball on the beach so we bought ourselves a pair and have had a little practice. It looks really easy (similar to ping pong but without the table), but it’s actually quite hard!

Wild Horses on Nativos Beach

So beautiful it hurts

Our acai obsession hasn’t wavered not one bit. We have it morning, noon and night and I like to have mine with fruits, nuts, granola and coconut! It is sooo addictive! We’re definitely going to try and get our hands on some when we get back to the UK.

Acai Goodness

The binmen seem to come everyday to collect our rubbish which is great as there is a bin directly outside our chalet but it is exposed and naturally I worry about “horrible things” coming round to see what’s in there.

It’s Josh’s birthday next week. I want to do something nice but it’s very expensive here and I haven’t really seen anything that jumps out at me to see or do however I have (after some initial inconvenience due to the fact that there website was down) managed to book a table at the fanciest restaurant in Trancoso, El Gordo, and hopefully I have succeeded (albeit with great difficulty) to get a keep it a secret from him. What I wanted to do afterwards if i couldn’t find anything to do during the day, was to somehow get in contact with our Airbnb host and do some surprise birthday drinks after dinner at El Gordo with our new local friends. I tried to get hold of our hosts number and I sent her a text but she hasn’t gotten back to me so I’m not sure whether it was the right number. Hopefully I see her before then so that I can get some suggestions or arrange something with her.

Josh’s back still hasn’t fully recovered either, which means that my original idea of perhaps getting him some Wind Surfing Lessons on his birthday might not be such a good idea. He did go and see the village masseuse, a Hawaaian guy who was recommended to us by our Airbnb host, and it has improved somewhat but it’s still not 100% and I don’t wish to be the person responsible for making it worse, especially since it was carrying my case up the stairs that did it in the firstplace!

Friends in High Places

We were invited to the birthday dinner of Luis, the flamboyant and adorable gay guy that we met a week ago through the owner of our Airbnb. The dinner was to be at one of the restaurants on the Quadrado: Capim Santo. There was an abundance of restaurant options around the square but what was nice about this one was the fact that it was hidden away down one of the alleyways amongst the tropical forest giving it a secret hideaway kind of vibe and apparently the food was pretty good too. Little bamboo huts were set in this secret garden setting with dimmed lanterns casting an intimate ambiant setting. A musician gently strumming his acoustic guitar playing beautiful bossa nova songs that I have come to love so much, and which complimented the relaxed environment perfectly. When Josh and I arrived our Airbnb host was already there with the birthday boy Luis, who was turning 59 today but who didn’t look a day over 50 and his Dutch Viking looking husband Gaod.

Later on another lady called Fernanda arrived. Despite the fact that our host was English and Gaod was Dutch they could both speak perfect Portuguese and Fernanda who was herself an author from Bahia, couldn’t speak any English and apparently she desperately wanted to talk to me because she wanted to tell me about the history of Bahia which has the highest population of Afro Brazilians in Brazil. She had alot of historical knowledge about the region which I’m sure I would have found interesting but having such an in depth conversation with her was unfortunately outside my scope of abilities! Nonetheless the dinner was wonderful, both the food (I had flambayed shrimps with sauteed potatoes) and the company, the company especially. Both Josh and I felt very flattered that we had been invited to spend such a special occasion with people that we had only just met.

All of our new found friends were such lovely people with interesting stories to tell and there was such an easy and relaxed atmosphere it certainly didn’t feel like we had only just met. After dinner Luis, who seemed to know everyone in the neighbourhood! took us (well we gatecrashed actually!), to one of the pousada’s on the Quadrado which was having their opening night and celebrating with a party for “invited” guests, but Luis somehow managed to get all 5 of us armbands to go in and free drinks too. I was pleasantly surprised since the people who were there were all dressed up to the nines and it all looked a little posey, alas Josh and I were introduced to lots of people including the owner of a handmade furniture shop nearby who invited us to come and say Hi to him when we were passing.

Rather then giving us evils after seeing that we had basically blagged our way into this private event, people were still very nice and friendly to us. Gaod, who I got into an depth conversation with in the restaurant and who I found to be a really sweet, sensitive guy which belied his looks resembling a 6’5 Viking, extended an invite to Josh and me for New Years Eve at the house that he and his husband Luis built. Apparently from the rooftop it had the most spectacular view of the whole city including as far as Porto Seguro, and thus would be the perfect place for us to watch the fireworks, avoiding the crowds and the noise.

My niece has arrived into the world and what a beauty she is! She arrived late last night through what sounds like was an extremely traumatic experience from my sister in law who had to have a c-section in the end. Both baby and Mum are doing okay but it sounds like my sister in law needs a lot of rest and looking after as the whole thing was pretty intense and traumatic for her. I’m sure she will be better in another week or so once her surgery wound has healed and she is able to hold and nurse her new daughter, my very first niece, whose name is Nia. I still can’t believe that I now have a niece and nephew both of whom I will see for the very first time when I return in April! 🙂

#caipirinhaaday Cheers!

Week 1 in Trancoso, Bahia, Brazil

Week 1 in Trancoso, Bahia, Brazil

It was the worst of times, it was the best of times

2 flights and a couple of hours later, we arrived in Porto Seguro, Bahia in the cloak of darkness.

We had arranged via the owner of our new accomodation in Trancoso, for a transfer collection from the airport. We had been warned by residents of Florianopolis that Bahia was much hotter then Floripa, but nothing quite prepared us for the intense humidity that greeted us when we got off the plane. My body had an immediate reaction: extreme and sudden perspiration.

After a day of travelling all I could think about was taking a long hot shower and then go promptly to sleep as I was utterly exhausted.

Unluckily for us though, the journey to our new digs hadn’t even began..

We picked up some food and water from the airport as we knew that we would be arriving late and so probably wouldn’t be able to get something to eat when we got there. It was very dark so I could hardly see outside the car window but from what I could see it looked like Porto Seguro was a busy, noisy town, with lots of people milling about.

Bahia is the third largest state in Brazil, with the highest population of Afro Brazilians, particularly in it’s capital city Salvador. I was hoping to get to Salvador whilst we were in Bahia and hopefully get my braids redone whilst I was there. They were still looking pretty good but I knew that they wouldn’t last forever so I had brought some hair with me so that I could get them redone at a black hair salon but when I looked on the map to find out how far Salvador was from Trancoso I was shocked to find that it was a whole plane ride away, an unbelievable 10 hours drive! I realised then with dismay that there was no way that I would be able to make it there now as there was no way that either of us were prepared to drive for 10 hours.

The town of Porto Seguro looked a little scruffy. Okay, very scruffy but that didn’t take away from the vibrancy of the place. Old friends talked animatedly on doorsteps, groups of people congregated at little metal roofed shacks, men pushed trolley’s full of coconuts, teenagers showed off their football dribbling skills, the sounds of laughter, music, food, drink: there was life.

In contrast to Floripa it couldn’t have been more different. Floripa was sanitised and safe, perhaps a little too safe. This place had atmosphere, an energy, an edge too perhaps. We would be staying in Trancoso, a bohemian beach town with a famous personality, which required a ferry crossing. The people who crossed with us looked as though they didn’t have much money, some even looked a little questionable, but despite the crossing looking and feeling a little sketchy, we made it across without any problems.

The journey to our place was not only humid but extremely long and uncomfortable – the narrow roads, not more then dirt tracks really, were uneven and bumpy, broken bits of rocks and stones strewn everywhere. As we drove huge clouds of red dust were chucked up obscuring ours (and thus our drivers) view of the road ahead. I was preparing on more then one occasion to crash since I couldn’t envisage how it was possible for our driver to see where he was going on this dusty, bumpy road in the darkness. Both Josh and I were knackered but sleep was literally impossible with all of this jolting up and down, also we wanted to see just where on earth this man was taking us.

Our route to our hotel in Zanzibar had been shockingly bad (both the plane and the road journey), and it isn’t one that I’m likely to forget in a hurry but this journey was definitely a close second. The roads were shockingly bad. I couldn’t imagine that our destination could possibly improve much more then this so now I was beginning to become a little concerned as to what kind of primitive place we were being taken to.

We were thankful that Susan, our Airbnb host, had recommended someone she knew to pick us up as otherwise we would have really had no idea how to get there since it was becoming more and more clear the further we drove that we were in rural territory. I knew that Bahia was a more tropical environment in comparison to where we had just come from but this was much more “jungleist” then I was expecting.

A whole hour and a half later, after traversing down the one bumpy dust road with thick jungle bush on either side for about half of it, Luis our driver, announced that we had arrived. We were here.

Where? I wanted to know. Because I really couldn’t see a thing. Not.a.thing.

Alas a couple of minutes later whilst I was still exhausted from a lack of sleep, after the slow dawning that I was living literally in the middle of a jungle and whilst my extreme hunger was raging in me like a fire since the last time we had had something to eat and drink was a good 5 hours or so ago, bewildered and overheated, I dragged my aching limbs out of the car to meet our waiting host.

Susan was an English woman originally from close to Manchester, who had moved to Trancoso around 17 years ago never to return. Talkative and friendly, she greeted us both with a warm hug and asked to follow her to our awaiting apartment. The first thing I could make out in the almost pitch black darkness whilst we followed behind her carrying our cases was the silhouettes of crabs scurrying across the grass. And not just any crabs either, big ones that had made their home outside the entrance to our property, ones that we would have to pass everyday: NOT ideal.

We were going to be staying in a beachfront chalet on one of the best beaches in Bahia: Nativos.

The chalet had 2 apartments and ours was located on the first floor which meant that it had fabulous views of the sea and the protected mangroves which the beach was surrounded by.

We were a little further away from the beach then at our previous property as the mangroves ran the length of the beach separating all of the villas, chalets and seafront pousada’s from direct access to the beach, but it also meant that we had one of the best locations in Trancoso: A sea view and a short walk to the beach but close to the centre of Trancoso: the famous Quadrado (square). All this though, was to be discovered in due course.

Right now, we were getting ready to see our chalet for the first time.

Blending into it’s tropical environment, our chalet was made from an abundance of wood generously provided by nature with tropical plants and trees surrounding it so that it looked like an actual treehouse, which of course it was not. Small but larger then our last property and much more liveable too, it had a big kingsize bed with a mosquito net covering it with views of our generous balcony with a perfectly reasonable sized wooden table and chairs, that overlooked the gardens below, the mangroves, the beach and Atlantic sea. Tall ceilings with beautiful wooden beams it was clean and smelling of an exquisite grade of Vanilla that I’d never encountered before. The chalet had been lovingly decorated with shabby chic interiors and simple but effective details such as the painted vintage looking wooden doors and window shutters and a polished concrete floor with patterned tassel rugs with a very inviting looking hammock that was just waiting to be tested out on the balcony. It had a bohemian theme throughout that used an abundance of natural materials which was very suited to it’s natural environment. I liked it.

Before I’d had the chance to survey the rest of the property I suddenly got boffed in the side of my head. When I looked round to see what had hit me I saw a huge, chunky brown moth fluttering in close proximity.

And then I saw it: The flapping of the mosquito net that I had imagined was the subtle motion of the light fabric gently moving in the tropical breeze was no such thing. No. This was no tropical breeze. This was the jungle saying Hello!

The doors and windows were all WIDE OPEN. All 4 of them! This meant that not only gigantic jungle moths such as the one that had bumped into me were in here, this meant that moths, gecko’s, spiders, and goodness knows what else lived in these here parts and also, and worse of all perhaps, cockroaches and mosquitoes too, both which I was terrified of because a) cockroaches are an abomination and b) i am allergic to mosquito bites. In our utter exhaustion, bewilderment, overwhelm, raging hunger and thirst both of us hadn’t noticed the obvious:

THAT WE WERE UNDER SIEGE

When we pointed out the swarms of mosquitoes that were by now circling us to Susan and the other flying things that we could actually SEE gathering momentum in our “open season” chalet she more or less shrugged in a very disturbing and blaise way that let us know that these windows and doors could have been open for hours for all we knew as this woman was clearly CRAZY. We asked her about cockroaches and mosquitoes since all of the windows and doors were wide open past dusk and she just said that once we were in our bed which was covered by a mosquito net we should be fine!

Fine?!

What the hell is going on??

It was then that we realised that no matter how good (and innocent) this woman’s intentions were, and despite the fact that we still had lots of questions to ask her about the chalet and the surrounding area this woman HAD TO GO IMMEDIATELY because there was no way in hell that Josh or I was going to be living in an environment with a battle of the beasts. We like nature but we do not want it living in our abode thank you very much.

Under Seige

The very first thing we done after getting rid of the woman quite abruptly was close all of the windows and doors that she’d had wide open inviting all and jungle sundry to populate our creature free environment. Yes, I detested nearly all creepy crawlies but Josh wasn’t particularly keen on them either and since he would be the one tasked with removing them he wasn’t going to have things crawling and flying around our apartment like they owned the place: Hell no!

Just on a basic rudimentary count we could both see at least 3 jungle moths (which I’m sure you already know means that they were gigantic, hideous looking and moving in a particularly erratic way).

We could see literally tonnes of mosquitoes. So many that I knew that if we didn’t set about getting rid of them I may not survive the night because they would literally bite me to death. I had been lucky in Floripa that I only been bitten once and even then I didn’t really have a reaction to the bite but here, in this environment, where I was likely to sweat profusely, these things would most assuredly eat me alive. I was  remembering the time in Thailand where I had been bitten so badly that my whole leg was swollen and I could hardly walk. I wasn’t volunteering for a replay.

Then we encountered a family of gecko’s on the ceiling’s wooden beams who looked as though they thought that it was perfectly normal to congregate there with the weak excuse of ridding us of any insects that remained. But what they didn’t understand was that Josh and I were committed to removing said insects, and if possible EVERY SINGLE ONE giving them no reason to stay. And though I’m not terrified of gecko’s per say I do not like going about my business i.e opening cupboard drawers or taking things out of my toiletries bag only to be scared out of my wits when one scurry’s up the wall in that spidery looking way as I’m doing so and I especially do not like hearing them making that high pitched horrible throaty screeching sound coming from above my head in the middle of the night nor shitting all over the kitchen counter tops. So no, sorry gecko’s but you’ve GOTS TO GO too!

Then there were the flies. Flies of differing types but flies nonetheless. Gots ta go. Whatever else lurked in our apartment that had more then 2 legs was simply not permitted to stay. Problem was though, Susan obviously had a habit of thinking that it was acceptable to sleep in an extremely humid jungle environment with the windows and doors all open, yes, there was both a fan and air con in the apartment, but she clearly preferred the fresh air, which meant that she didn’t have much in the way of preventative creature methods such as an insect killer spray which is what we needed right now.

I mean she had one spray can but it hardly worked. The can was so cheap that when we sprayed hardly anything came out at all. Alas that was our only weapon (and my Birkenstocks), and we were determined to make this place habitable again if it killed us.

We spent the next almost 2 hours ridding the apartment of the dreaded beasts. The mosquitoes were the trickiest to get rid of as they were small and liked to hide behind the curtains or even try and get on the other side of our mosquito net, but we saw them and either Josh or I would demolish them. In the end we must have literally killed around 60 mosquito’s between us until we couldn’t see them anymore.

We were both pouring with sweat at this point and in our jumping, whacking, swiping, spraying, stamping and squashing antics in the intense humidity we (almost) didn’t see the dirty big great cockroach aka BARRATAS attempt to scurry across the floor towards the bathroom out of sight. Almost. But we got him. It was of course skin tingleingly disgusting but having a good nights sleep whilst a nasty barratas was at large in our apartment was completely out of the question. We first tried to use the spray on him but he didn’t seem to respond to that, having an evolutionary history of 200 million years and all that: Nawsty.

All this meant to me was that no jokes aside, we had to be on the alert for the duration of our time here because it was now abundantly clear that the environment in which we found ourselves was ALIVE and judging by what we had already seen in the short time since arriving and which had me sweating like a goodun and panting more then in a spin class, this was no joke: these beasts were so numerous and comfortable with Susan’s “come on in” antics that they would probably be trying to enter our chalet on the regular if we didn’t deal with them swiftly and without mercy.

We had of course asked Susan about cockroaches (since I am especially terrified of them) and she had told us that she hadn’t seen any alas here we were on the first night only 2 hours after arriving, squishing the life force out of one. I was certain judging by her earlier windows and doors open shenanigans and the fact that she slept with them open wide to all and sundry that she probably wouldn’t have noticed a cockroach infestation in her house if she saw one!

With a family of crabs at our chalet entrance, moths bumping up against the lights, flies buzzing about in the bathroom, gecko dominion on the ceiling, scheming mosquitoes and hiding barratas, we were thoroughly pissed off with this creature lark: They had to go.

Finally we got rid of (most) them. We killed the cockroach, the flies and all of the other flying and crawling insects including the 60 odd mosquitoes that we could see. There wasn’t much that we could do about the gecko’s but we figured that if there was nothing left for them to eat then they would go of their own accord. At least that’s what we were hoping anyway.

Finally we settled down to eat and drink something: a thing for which we hadn’t the luxury to do now for coming up to 8 hours. But when we went to find the bag with our measly (and extortionately priced) airport sandwiches and bottles of water we couldn’t find it. We looked everywhere including our rucksacks and suitcases but it was then that it dawned on us that we must of left it in the car when we’d arrived!

After the unpredictable ferry stop meaning we’d had to get out of the car during the crossing, coupled with the exhaustion, trying to see where we were going on the journey from hell in the strange darkness, the hunger, the thirst and then the relentless killing of a years worth of UK creepy crawlies in one night, we had forgotten the most important thing: food and drink. We were both starving and after losing almost half my weight in sweat I really really needed a drink of water. So did Josh. But we only had a dribble to share between us and we used most of that to brush our teeth since the drinking water wasn’t safe here. To make matters even worse, Josh had injured his back carrying my 30 kg suitcase up the narrow stairs to our chalet and now we couldn’t get the air con working. In my mind, it really couldn’t get much worse then this.

Since we were both very thirsty, not knowing how we were going to last the night feeling so overheated yet being so dehydrated with no more water to drink or food to eat, we figured that the best thing for us (and Josh’s back which by now was really beginning to hurt him), was to go to bed, then wake up as early as possible and go and get something to eat.

We went to bed at around 9:00 pm. We still had clothes to unpack and we desperately needed some food to eat, a drink of water and a shower but all of that was going to have to wait now. Our priority right now was to get some sleep.

Around an hour and a half of an uncomfortable sleep later, in which we were both tossing and turning, Josh was in agony with his back, I was imagining what creatures still lurked in our chalet, and we both were too hot, starving and thirsty, it started..

At first we couldn’t work out just where the noise was coming from. Was it coming from behind us, near the Quadrado, from the house next to us? – we just didn’t know. And having only arrived in Trancoso a few hours ago how would we know? We could hardly see when we arrived. All we knew was that the noise, which was infact more like a PARTY with a live band, was tremendously loud, and it was getting increasingly louder as the time went on. We couldn’t sleep. There was no way that we could possibly sleep.

I usually do not have much of a problem sleeping but this was something else. Being in a foreign country, in a bed that i’d never been in before, trying to get used to the new environment, the intense heat, the feeling of needing a shower after travelling for more then half a day, my fear of creepy crawlies, cockroaches and mosquitoes, and a hunger that felt like someone was taking a dagger to my insides, there was no possible way that I could sleep. These people were having a RAVE!

I wished that it would end soon but it just went on and on and on. 12:00 am came and went and still the party would not end. By this time both Josh and I were almost frantic. And my eyes were now pulsating in their sockets I was so in need of sleep. Was this to be what it was going to be like staying here? because unquestionably neither of us could or would be prepared to deal with hearing a full on party night after night whilst we were trying to sleep. Not even on this so called holistay. No, not even then.

We started pondering the possibility of us asking to be moved: just like we had to in Thailand, and in Bali and elsewhere in the world. We lay there thinking about what we would need to do to convince Airbnb to move us and even then we didn’t know where we’d move to. Creepy crawlies were one thing but being in this tropical environment, that was pretty much a given, and I wasn’t convinced that we would be able to find a better location then where we were: close to the beach and the Quadrado with a sea view particular it being so close to Christmas. But we knew that we would have to speak to Susan and soon because this situation was simply unbearable. The party went on until after 5:00 am in the morning which meant that we couldn’t sleep until it had finished which therefore meant that we woke up late but having had minimal sleep to go in search for that which was compulsory: food and water.

When we emerged sleepy from our disturbed slumber the first thing we acknowledged was the intense humidity of the place. It was nothing like I could remember having experienced before, not even in Jamaica or in Mexico when I was certain I could see the sun rays literally radiating from the ground. It was extremely humid and after having a shower which was both weak and quite frankly nowhere near hot enough for my liking, my body as if to prove this fact, broke out in sweat straight after I had dried myself off. I hoped that my body would acclimatise to this humid climate soon because I didn’t wish to walk around with a wet, perspiring face and body the whole time.

Before we left the house (as we didn’t have Wifi once we left it and both of us refused to switch on our data) we sent Susan a message to tell her about the noise that we had experienced the night before and to warn her that if she didn’t get the bottom of who it was making that noise and confirm that it wouldn’t be happening again then we would have no choice but to look for somewhere else to stay as there was no way that we could stay somewhere with such horrendously loud noise that went on until 5:00 am in the morning every night. She messaged back telling us that she would make a concerted effort to find out who it was.

The crabs living at the front of our property had dug themselves holes and each time we left or arrived we would see them scurry back into their holes so that we could pass. Despite their natural fear of humans I didn’t particularly relish seeing a bunch of reasonably big crabs at the bottom of the garden that I would have to wait to move before I could leave or arrive. But that was just the way it was here and previous guests obviously didn’t have much of a problem with it. We don’t have crab home invasions back in the UK so I admit I have no experience with this type of thing!

Now that we could see in the cold light of day what it was we were working with it was obvious to me why we had so many creatures in our chalet the night before: Our property backed onto a literal jungle.

Susan had actually mentioned in her unsettlingly casual way that we might even see a family of monkeys (up to 20 she said), who sometimes came into the apartment. When she had said it at the time I had thought it sweet as I like monkeys but now looking at the jungle environment we were amongst, I wasn’t so sure that I wanted 20 monkeys in my house!

Surrounding us was a dense tropical forest and in front of the property a dusty red track that I was guessing passed as their main road (but it surely could not be considered a road) and then in front of that was the densely covered mangrove trees with the beach and the sea beyond. Beautiful it was yes, but also very real, very raw and very wild. Neither Josh or I had been anywhere quite this rural before, and yet there was an undenieable charm about the place too.  Our chalet didn’t have a washing machine (here we go again!), but Susan had offered to wash our towells, bedding and clothes for us once a week which was better then the fortnightly service our apartment manager had offered us before and she didn’t live nearby, she had to come on her scooter to deliver us fresh sheets and take our dirty clothes so I thought that was very kind of her.

The balcony of our chalet

We had to walk up the dirt track to get to the Quadrado. Susan had also given us a torch and told us that we would need to use it in the evening to get to and from the square at night. The thought of walking down this deserted dust road that had NO LIGHTING whatsoever with goodness knows what lurking in the tangled mangroves, not to mention the fact that this state had a much higher crime figure then in Florianopolis, didn’t fill me with any enthusiasm. All I could think was:

“What on earth have we gotten ourselves into now?!”

The walk to the square wasn’t far but it wasn’t particularly easy. For starters there was the heat and humidity which only seemed to increase as the day progressed, and we had still had no water. We were required to walk up this uneven, lumpy bumpy dirt track before taking the next right and then walking up a steep but lit (in places) alleyway. According to Susan she had had previous guests complain about said “alleyway” which seemed fair enough to me as I was looking for glamour not an alleyway, but she insisted that this unassuming alleyway was infact Trancoso’s millionaires row. Trancoso in Bahia was the place where the Brazilian millionaires and celebrities from Sao Paolo and Rio came to holiday and build their luxury homes, even more so then Jurere Internationale. So apparently this alleyway was where the millionaires had their homes which made sense knowing that it backed onto the Quadrado, but no sense when you saw it, as it was long, narrow, dark and shady, with a very steep, bumpy dirt track road. And as you walked through it you heard rustling every so often from the surrounding bushes and strange sounds coming from high up the in trees. There were also lots of cameras camouflaged amongst the foliage no doubt to prevent any criminal chancers. I could only imagine what kind of strange creatures might be lurking there but when I looked up into the trees behind these vast gated properties I couldn’t see anything I could only hear sounds. I could only imagine what it might be like a night and I wasn’t especially keen to find out I have to say!

Suddenly we emerged into an open grassy area, shaded by lots of beautiful hundreds of years old trees. Underneath them sat local sellers of handmade crafts and accessories, in the middle was a simple white stone church, the heart of the Quadrado, at one end a wonderful view of Nativos beach, with it’s distinctive palm trees, turquoise sea and mangroves, colourful and characterful pousada’s lined either side of the green, adorned with beautiful tropical flowers, and at the furthest end was a thriving market filled with bars, boutique shops and restaurants. As hot as I was, as tired as I was, as thirsty as I was and concerned about Josh and his back as I was, I knew immediately that I loved this place. It was just lovely. Full to the brim with character and simplicity.

Our first stop after browsing a couple of the shops on the Quadrado was to get some coffee and something to eat. And unlike in Floripa where coffee was much harder to come by then you would expect, coffee shops here were in abundance. No sooner had we sat down then we were greeted by the owner of the coffee shops whose name was Arnaldo. He warmly welcomed us to Trancoso (in English!) and gave us a rundown on the menu (which looked great btw). As expected, both the coffee which was strong and abundant, and the food, was great. We thanked Arnaldo for his help and told us that he’d be seeing us around. He seemed shocked when we told him that we were going to be staying in Trancoso for a whole 6 weeks since this is typically a destination where people only stay for a week or 2 tops it being so expensive and all. We told him about the party that we’d heard last night and he confirmed that there was no way that the noise came from the Quadrado as it was against the law to have any music in the Quadrado on after 10:00 pm which was fair enough. He said that it was probably just a wedding in one of the surrounding big houses and we were unlikely to hear noise that prevented us from sleeping again.

As soon as I’d heard about this place I just knew that I had to make it here and as I sat there in the sunshine sipping my Brazilian coffee surrounded by all of the beautiful trees, fluttering butterfliles and sweet brightly coloured pousada’s I was happy that we’d made this one of our travel destinations.

As promised by those rare few in the know: The Quadrado in Trancoso was kind of special. It had all of the ingredients for me that made a place so: natural beauty, an abundance of nature, atmosphere and a little magic. Of course it wasn’t for everyone: it was very small with an almost village like feel, so it was very possible that one might get bored here as there wasn’t much to do or see outside of Trancoso, but to me it was utterly charming and unique and helplessly romantic. I couldn’t wait to see what it looked like at night when all of the restaurants surrounding the square were lit up with fairy lights and musicians played bossa nova in the square!

As we walked through admiring the gorgeous shops, many with very bohemian-esque interiors similar to our little chalet, watching children playing on the green, riding their bikes and chasing each other around trees making this a wonderful and safe place for children to play, seeing people reading a book underneath the shade of trees, and lazy dogs sleeping comfortably on the grass, all of yesterdays horrendous drama, which at the time I thought that I would never ever forget, went by the wayside.

We walked on to a find another coffee shop in a beautiful little courtyard area filled with lots of lovely shops all with the same beach bohemian theme. It was as if they had all been designed at exactly the same time by the same person which of course wasn’t what had happened. But the place did have an authenticity and a flow to it throughout the Quadrado. Josh’s back had by now almost completely gone stiff on one side causing him to lean to the other to compensate and he was in a lot of pain which made it hard for him to walk. I felt bad having to make him walk at all but we had only just arrived in Bahia and we needed to get some food and drinks in.

We stopped for another coffee at Santos Cafe, followed closely by 2 inquisitive looking dogs insistent on seeing whether we were happy to offer up any food to them when we got it. Unlike in Thailand and especially in Bali, where the stray dogs were particularly aggressive, these guys didn’t seem aggressive at all. Now I don’t have too much knowledge of dogs and their body language but these ones seemed pretty harmless and tame to me and the owners of both the pharmacy next door and the coffee shops shooed them away as if they knew them personally. It was as if the whole village had kind of adopted these strays and looked out for them (and their customers who didn’t wish to be bothered by them of course!).

During our coffees and cake we connected to Wifi to see a message from Susan telling us about an event that was going on that day on the Quadrado. An event by the locals where there would be singing, some Samba dancing and even some Capoeira and we definitely liked the sound of that so after we went to the local Supermarket to pick up some water and other supplies we returned to our apartment so that we could have a shower and go back out to attend this event which was apparently free to attend. We were both utterly drenched in sweat by this point and Josh’s back hadn’t improved but we both really wanted to go and he was determined to attend this local event. I was ready to experience some of Bahia!

After a long time walking up and down the Quadrado past the identical looking pousada’s in the heat for this supposed “event”, we even asked Arnaldo at the coffee shop, we eventually found where this event was being held by following an older man who was wearing what looked like the traditional Capoeira outfit. There was no signage and nobody handing out information, nobody even standing at the entrance to explain what it was all about and we couldn’t hear any music so it was no wonder that we couldn’t find it! According to Susan, who we eventually saw coming out of the building, they were having what they liked to call a Women’s Meeting. She had warned us earlier that events like this in Brazil NEVER EVER started on time. The women there represented the old African religions (not Christianity), and alot of it was about worshiping or giving thanks to (supposed) spirits, nature and their ancestors. Of course it was nice to hear that they hadn’t succumbed to crooked Christianity, but making something else up doesn’t make it particularly better! but hey, what can you do? Obviously there was no point in me going in there to sit there listening to them talk about nonexistent spirits but on the other hand I wouldn’t understand what they were saying anyway since it was all in Portuguese so maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad afterall! lol

There were 2 things in particular that I was keen on seeing whilst I was in Brazil: Samba dancing and Capoeira, and this event offered them both so I was elated to be in the right place at the right time to experience it and unbelievably, this was only Day 1!

When they eventually finished their meeting (after a very long period of talking nonsense I’m sure), people started drifting outside onto the Quadrado and then I started to see the people who would be demonstrating their Capoeira moves: they looked great! It wasn’t just men, nor just women, it was a nice mix of men and women, and a nice mix of ages too, there was even a few Grandad’s thrown in there and though most of them looked like they were of African descent, not all of them were, there were people of Latin and even Caucasian background getting ready to demonstrate their moves. But what they did have in common was that they all looked very fit and strong. And they had SKILLS.

To say that both Josh and I were impressed is an understatement. We were impressed and felt frankly honoured to be able to watch this impromptu art form with the people and the place where it derives. The sun was shining and my heart was filled with complete and utter joy, and yes pride too, since Capoeira is descended from the African Slaves who were brought to Brazil by their Portuguese Colonisers. It was incredibly beautiful to see.

There was one girl in particular who looked great. She had a washboard stomach that put some of the world’s best athletes to shame. But what we both liked most of all aside from the easy and very impressive skills, and speed of these people, was the way that they interacted with each other. There was so much love, good energy and respect here. You could feel it in the air and the way that they thanked and praised each other after each fight. It was so beautiful. I liked to think that this beautiful environment made them this way but I think that the leader who was an incredible Capoeira performer, had a big part to play.

Following the fight the matriarch lead a joyful dance with a handful of ladies wearing traditional Afro-Brazilian clothes. This woman looked to be the same age as my Nan yet here she was dancing nonstop with her much younger followers, and I’m pretty sure she would have went on if she wasn’t stopped! Incredible.

The locals gearing up for Caporeira on the Quadrado

We had a candlelit dinner on the Quadrado at the owner of Diesel’s very own hotel: Uxua. The food and the setting was second to none. Rattan lanterns hung from the trees whilst Brazilian folk songs were strummed on the guitar. It was very laid back and tastefully done.

Afterwards we were to experience the full journey home to our apartment and put it this way: A torch does not cut it. Well not that weak ass torch that Susan gave us anyway. No, only mobile phone lights would suffice. Susan had warned us about having our phones out late at night because of opportunists in the area but I simply could not navigate a JUNGLE without it.

Walking through this pitch black dirt track not being able to see what was to the side of me, behind me or in front of me, with bloody mangroves on one side and goodness knows what other things apart from crabs scurrying across me, loud noises echoing in the darkness such as I’d never heard before in my life, with the potential of being knocked over by an on coming car at any moment, it was frankly terrifying. Terrifying I tell you. Getting to my front door wasn’t much easier. We still had to wait for the family of crabs to vacate and they seemed to be decidedly slower at night.

I really didn’t know how I was going to do this every night. I didn’t know how anyone could do it or why we were being expected to by an English woman no less who should frankly know better!

Unfortunately this English woman was now fully entrenched into local life. Such “comforts” were beyond her. I mean she had all of the windows and doors in our apartment wide open whilst every creepy crawlie going crawled, flew and scurried their way through it! And she slept soundly all while this went on. No Sir!

Nativos Beach

The following day we made our first foray to the beach. We had had a little glimpse of it up at the Quadrado the day before but nothing had quite prepared us for how beautiful it was.

We assumed that we’d been beached out after having gone to many beautiful beaches back in Florianopolis but it seems that they had their own stunner to compete with: Nativos Beach was long and wide, with golden sand and clean turquoise water. And despite it being the Atlantic sea the water here was actually really warm. Much warmer then any of the water at any of the other beaches we had frequented. And there were beautiful horses here. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to ride one but I loved just looking at them. It was really easy to find somewhere to sunbathe since the beach clubs on the beach (of which there were a great many to choose from and which were actually ALFREDO and not Fechado), only required us to spend a very small amount to get the sunbeds (and accompanying table and chairs for free).

We spent the day at Fly Club which we chose because we could hear them playing some serious house tunes during the day from our balcony. That night we went to Jacare, an Argentinian restaurant on the island with stunning African themed decor. Now that we had been to a few food establishments we could provide an asessment on the standard of the food and conclude that it was good! Far better then Florianopolis, with far more variety, and it seemed like it was more traditionally Brazilian too which was good. I was looking forward to trying Bahia’s version of Moqueca which I saw on lots of restaurants menu’s.

The heat here is insane. Even though logically I know that I’ve already been in 30 degree heat there is something about this heat that is almost unbareable. During the day we have the doors wide open in our chaltet (but only until around 5:30 pm as the mossies come out after then) and at the night the fan is going constantly. We keep the aircon on in the evening when we are getting ready for dinner as after I’ve had my shower in the evening I resent the reality of stepping out of the shower only to pespire all over again.

We have seen less police here then in Porto Seguro but more then in Floripa. The other day as we were going back to our chalet with bags full of shopping we saw po-po on a quad bike no less, pull up (guns in hand!) outside our property and disappear into the thick mangroves as if they were chasing someone. As I said to Josh ” I do not wish to get caught up in any Brazilian shoot out thank you very much!”

The Creperie

We found a creperie on the Quadrado that is simply to die for. It’s a small and unassuming places as most of these places are but the woman in there (whose French), does the most amazing crepes! When we went in there we were greeted by her husband who is Brazilian and seemed very friendly. Undoubtedly he is fully aware that his wifes crepes are the business. They do both sweet and savoury crepes and after having experienced them both we can say without a doubt that we will be back!

Susan, our Airbnb host invited us for drinks with her and thankfully now that Josh’s back has gotten better we arranged to meet her at a local bar. Both Josh and I have been surprised with how frequently since being here we have seen and heard from our Airbnb host, but we like her and of course with her being from England it must be nice for her to have people there bringing news from home. So we went for drinks with her, and during the course of the night some friends of hers also joined us including another Londoner called Helen, her Brazilian husband and a gay Brazilian guy who was super camp but hilarious and very warm and friendly to us, scoring brownie points with me for calling me a Rio Carioca, which is a complimentary term people here have for beautiful Brazilians. Well, I’ll take it! 🙂

All of her friends were very friendly and lots of fun. Talking with them it felt like I’d known them all a long while. Whilst we were getting to know one another I made the point to ask Susan about getting my braids done. Of course she was a white woman, but she lived amongst many Afro Brazilians so even if she didn’t know where herself she could probably find out. Also her friend Helen seemed to think she knew someone who might be able to do it for me but that particular person and Susan have fallen out so we’ll have to see how that goes. Either way there was no way that I could have it done in Salvador as Susan confirm that the state of Bahia was infact bigger then France! Wowzers.

Aside from the Brazilian corruption, which permeated society down to it’s very core, and of course the heat which I’m not certain I could get used to straight away, I loved the small village feel of the place, and the laid back energy. Beautiful each and every night, lanterns swayed gently in the trees and fairy lights lit up the pousada’s giving it a permanent Christmasy feel. The stars in the sky looked like diamonds. As people passed by they called out to Helen, Luis and Susan to say Hi. I loved that. I’d love to live somewhere where people said Hi and waved to me as they passed and where you could meet an old (or new) friend at any moment.

Luis, the gay guy, has since invited us for NYE at his fancy house just outside the Quadrado. All this, and in less then a week of being in Bahia! I’d heard that that the people were friendly but I certainly wasn’t expecting this.

Gecko poo isn’t pleasant (it’s dark brown with a white tip if you’re wondering), and unfortunately a number of gecko’s have set up residence in our chalet. I’ve even found a few baby ones in the shower! They had better not be breeding in there!

L’Occitane Teatro

I had seen the L’Occitane theatre (L’Occitane as in the French cosmetics giant yet) online and I was determined to visit it whilst I was here. I’d seen online that they were hosting a nativity performance of their local school children and I wanted to go. Going to see children when I’m not interested in having children and a nativity performance when I’m an atheist and don’t believe in religions or God’s is a bit of an irony, but I wanted to support the local community, experience the local culture, and in paticular I wanted to see this beautiful piece of architecture that was hosting the event: L’Occitane Teatro.

Everyone attending the event was asked to bring a gift with them to give to the children and we had no idea what age the children were but I was guessing around 6 or 7 so we passed by a toy shop on the way and picked up a water gun and a football to take with us to give to them. The lady in the shop realising that we were giving them as gifts also gave us some wrapping paper and ribbons to put them in. Since there was no Uber in Trancoso we walked to the taxi rank and got the taxi from there – a short 10 minutes (and £20 later), we arrived. The taxi driver, who was obviously milking it from these journeys to and from L’Occitane theatre, was only too happy to give us a card with his number on it to contact him for a lift back.

We arrived at a huge grassy area with a pond in the middle and 2 quirky looking white buildings in the shape of a triangle on either side. The L’Occitane theatre also had it’s own golf course which we could see on the green and grassy grounds. It all felt very picturesque and not very “tropical” at all. It was more like the perfectly manicured gardens at an English country house.

Eventually we found our way to hand in our gifts to the organiser of the nativity performance, and then she took us over to the theatre, which was a large and airy white building where we found great seats to sit and watch the performance. We could see the children in their little Christmas outfits arriving. Some were as young as 3 years old up until around 15. The most beautiful and cute gathering of children you ever did see!

Naturally we didn’t understand a word of what they were singing which was probably just aswell since they had clearly all been brainwashed into Jesus worship, but just seeing them doing their little dances and singing in these adorable little outfits was great. I doubt I will ever watch a nativity performance again in my life but I was glad that when I did I got to see it with the most adorable and beautiful children in the world! I would hate seeing this back in the UK, lol.

 

The adorable children of Trancoso doing their nativity performance 

Me at the L’Occitane Theatre

The morning after the nativity performance on my way out to the balcony I spotted what I could only call a “jungle barratas” clinging to the curtains. It was HUGE, brown and crispy. It looked very “hardy”.

Encountering the various beasts of the jungle looks like its going to be a constant battle but it’s one that we must win!

Week 6 in Florianopolis, Brazil

Week 6 in Florianopolis, Brazil

Today was to be the day that my bare backside had it’s first outing on a Brazilian beach.

Since it was our last week in Florianopolis we had a few places that we wanted to trick off our list. Barra Da Lagoa, another beach on the northern side of the island, was our next stop and it would also be the place where I decided that I would wear my Brazilian Biquini, and therefore have my bare bum debut.

Barra Da Lagoa

We were picked up by an Uber driver from our apartment in the morning.

We said the usual greeting “Oi” (which isn’t as rude as you think it is btw, this is infact the Portuguese greeting for “Hi”), which was promptly followed by our driver asking us in Portuguese how we were (I told you these Uber drivers like to chat – pretty much unheard of in London), so we replied back to him in English.

Seems him knowing that we were British was his cue to bombard us with a torrent of conversation. Unbeknownst to us, we had now opened up a can of word worms! This guy could speak 5 languages fluently: Portuguese, Italian (as his father was Italian and he went to Italian school for 5 years), Spanish (as his grandmother was from Uruguay), English (as he studied English for 4 years), and French (as he lived in both France and Italy as a ski instructor). I know this all because he felt the need to tell us as if he were coming for an interview. He soon proceeded to recount his life story (in impressive English it has to be said) and confirmed that he had lived in Rio for most of his life but had moved to Floripa a few years ago and so could confirm that in his opinion Florianopolis was the best place in the whole of Brazil in which to live. Not because it was necessarily the most beautiful or had the most work opportunities he said, but because of the culture, the quality of life, the people and the low crime rate, not to mention the natural beauty which is pretty much a given in Brazil.

We could agree with him on that. Since we had been here and many times before we had arrived in Brazil we had heard many things (many bad things) about the crime level. Alas, I could say without hesitation that since we had arrived here in Floripa almost 6 weeks ago there hadn’t been a hint of dodgy dealings or questionable people in the area either. We both felt very safe, the importance of which cannot be understated when you are travelling in a foreign country.

He asked us how we had found the place and how long we had been here for. We told him that we were leaving on Saturday and so were just ticking off a few more places on our list whilst we still had the time. He then proceeded to tell us about the current state of affairs in Brazilian politics. He said that the Brazilians knew that their current prime minister was crazy but out of the 2 choices they had, he was surprisingly the better as the other candidate had connections with the former President, one of the last many Brazilian Presidents who had been imprisoned for corruption offenses – a common theme here. So he said that even though he did not care for this current President they didn’t have any better options at the time (they only get 2 candidates to choose from). Thankfully he said, he has since made a few good decisions since being in office and they have a better suited President lined up for the next election in a few years time.

He told us that he could ski, scuba dive, surf and goodness knows what else – this man was really beginning to make us feel decidedly lazy!

As interesting as he was, he was driving like a bit of a maniac (even for Brazilian standards which were famously fear inducing: even the women drivers drove too fast), and as soon as we told him that the next destination on our travels was Trancoso in Bahia he almost began salivating at the mouth and whilst driving erratically on the motorway proceeded to use his free hand to type in places on his phone for us to see. He also confirmed what we already knew, that despite having not visited Bahia yet, it was famously beautiful. We both began to become increasingly alarmed as he swerved in and out of traffic on the motorway like a mad man, overtaking cars and trucks at close proximity and at high speed, whilst talking a dime a dozen, sweating like a pig (and the sweat odour was beginning to creep it’s way into the back seat to fill my nostrils in the most unpleasant way!), and operating the mobile phone on his dashboard to show us what he was was recommending. The man was crazy.

Apparently amongst all of the other language learning, living and working abroad and multiple hobbies, this sweaty man also had the time to be a tour guide on the island! In the short time that we’d met this guy we basically knew his back story, and that wasn’t all, he was determined (despite being an Uber driver and not a private chauffeur) to show us a few of his recommendations on the way to Barra Da Lagoa. The experience was strange, but we were in no particular rush and it was pretty cool to have a conversation aka a mini tour! and recommendations from a well travelled local.

The first place he took us to was called the Belvedere Look Out Point, a strategically placed point located in the middle of the island at a high point where you could get panoramic views of Floripa. Neither of us had even heard of it before so we were delighted when he said that he would take us there (and unlike Uber in London, Uber here in Brazil is a fixed price so he wasn’t making any money out of these stops). Still, I didn’t expect him to actually park up and get out of the car with us to show us the best spot to take a picture and then offer to take said picture!

 

Belvedere Look Out Point

I realised that the man was somehow involved in doing tours but we had already told him that we were leaving in a few days so it wasn’t like he could expect us to be booking one of his tours, and to be fair to him he wasn’t actively promoting them, he just seemed excited to be able to show us around. When he jumped out of the car to show us Belvedere Look Out Point I confirmed what I already knew: that the man had been getting himself into a right state and was perspiring all down his back. The black shirt that he was wearing (not a great colour to wear in 30 degree heat when driving around allday), was soaked through and the odour was now beginning to permeate the vehicle.

Worst thing was that both Josh and I were unable to calm the man down! He was very excited to have come into contact with a couple from England and was now seemingly committed to taking us anywhere that we happened to mention on route to our destination. Josh had mentioned in passing the fact that he was interested in possibly taking up kite boarding (more as a response to his comment about his hobbies rather then a hint for suggestions), so then the man offered to take us to a kite boarding school near the beach.

He then started going on and on about a hostel on the island (the best one on the island he said, better then a 5 star hotel he said), telling us about all of the facilities that they had and that they were located right on the beachfront. I wasn’t sure what age he thought Josh and I was, or where he thought we were staying but we don’t seek to stay in hostels and we were happy in our Airbnb apartment which was also located on the beachfront thank you very much, but of course we didn’t tell him that for fear of him perspiring even more then he already was! We were trying to keep our responses to a minimum. Judging by his prior behaviour it didn’t come as much of a surprise to us as he pulled up outside this hostel that he had been banging on about. As we walked into the hostel with the Uber driver with the sweaty back, we passed a girl coming out who he proceeded to greet (in German!). I tell you, this man was something else. We were still struggling with the basics in Portuguese! lol.

So he took us inside. Now I’m no snob but I am not a backpacker. Despite the fact that we were in South America for a long time I had no intention of staying in any hostels thank you very much. I am not sociable enough to be surrounded by lots of random people (most of whom were likely to be 10 years plus younger then me), sharing communal spaces with them and trying to pretend that I’m friendly and trendy when I’m not. I just like be in a clean clutter free environment with a bit of peace and quiet. Preferably in a good area that’s close to amenities. I do not wish to try to find companions, which I understand is different if you’re travelling alone or with girlfriends, and perhaps also yes, I do have a bit of an idea of what a “hostel” looks and feels like, and even though I do understand that some of them can be very design focused and with mature guests, I worry about creepy crawlies and cleanliness levels in these kinds of places.

So whilst this man was singing this hostels praises to high heaven, Josh and I both knew in the back of our minds that unless this was a  special ., ultra clean, boutique type of hostel in an exceptional location that there was no way that either of us would stay in such a place. To be fair to him, it had the laid back bohemian, tropical vibe that I like and which reminded me a little of Bali, but that’s where the similarities ended as this place was quite frankly: tired. Even the staff who he greeted with his usual over the top loudness looked tired. The design of the place, with it’s chalk board advertising it’s “Beach Clean Up”, “Acai” and “Surf School” sounded great – very hippy, very boho. But the place was in need of some serious TLC and it just wasn’t cutting the mustard. I’m sure that it looked great at one point in time: it had a mini skate park (again with the trying to be cool thing), a pool table and hammocks (nice touch), but everything was in disrepair and the gardens which leaded out to the beach looked dry and overgrown and in desperate need of some water.

And as I assumed, the people who we did see staying there were the back packers trying to spend only £1 a day types, that in this poorly maintained garden just looked sad. We made the appropriate noises with the Uber driver, realising that despite whatever we thought of the place, we weren’t actually in charge here. We would clearly only get to leave when this guy wanted to leave! The Uber driver was clearly determined to make his presence known in this place, in particular to the guy on the front desk who was perhaps the manager or owner and maybe he was trying to pretend to bring 2 interested Brits to his hostel, but either way there was no way that either Josh or I would stay somewhere like this and even though this garden was a decent size, it was shared with tonnes of backpackers and in comparison, our garden was beautiful and very well maintained, quiet, and was located on a very lovely beach where we could actually swim! We stood there like lemons listening to him waffle on for a few minutes with the guy on the front desk and eventually he said goodbye and we left. For what it offered, in terms of originality, creating a real beachy boho vibe, I’m sure it was possibly the best hostel on the island, but unless they do a renovation soon it will shortly become the worst.

Finally, after our driver passed by a wind surfing school, which said it was Alfredo (Open), but was actually Fechado (closed) a word we are very familiar with on this island, we reached our destination: Barra Da Lagoa.

Another day, another beautiful Brazilian beach

I was in two minds as to whether this beach was even worth visiting initially. Well, when you’ve got 42 to choose from it’s hard to know where to begin and where to end. But Josh had looked at the surrounding area and decided that it was still worth a visit, especially since Barra Da Lagoa had a beach on one side and a lake on the other and some sand dunes for good measure: intriguing!

Barra Da Lagoa was another vast Brazilian beach, both in width and in length. Make no mistake: the Brazilian people were extremely blessed in the beach department! The sky was perfectly blue, with hardly a cloud in the sky. The beach was natural and wild, with miles and miles of powdery white sand and the sea was a gorgeous shade of blue with large white foamy waves similar to Campeche and Joaquina but not as rough nor as cold.

It was a really windy day so we wanted to find somewhere where we weren’t going to get sand all over our bodies and blown into our eyes. We wanted to find somewhere with a little protection from the elements. Pretty easy to do on a beach that is so wide that you could find a private space just for you where you won’t be disturbed by anyone.

And this was just aswell as I had chosen this day to be brave and wear my first Brazilian Biquini in public, and as I could feel by the chafing between my bum crease: this audacious exposure was very much a reality.

Once we had found somewhere to sunbathe, we went for a romantic stroll along the beach when we spotted what looked like a large sized condom from afar.

Condom Jellyfish

When we got up close to this thing I couldn’t believe what it was I was seeing. It was transparent with a blue, purplish hue, and it literally looked like a big condom! It was even pulsating and had a “fatty deposit” at it’s tip. I realise that this sounds vile but I can only describe what I saw and it looked like a condom I’m telling you! Infact the only way that we knew it wasn’t a huge condom was because the thing was vibrating and because we could see tiny stringy looking tentacles emerging from it’s underside (so small that if the thing were not a bloody pulp I probably wouldn’t have seen it at all). The tiny tentacles basically just looked like thin threads of string, but they were also red, so I guessed that the jellyfish was dead (or dying) and I certainly had no intention of prodding it to find out!

I saw a second, bigger condom jellyfish a few minutes later, both had just washed up on the beach. Since these horrendous things were so abundant here it didn’t make me particularly keen on swimming there now let me tell assure you.

When the time was right (meaning there was nobody else about), my bare bottom made it’s first foray into the world. And it was fine. Totally fine. Nothing happened to me or my bum, and I’m sure that since everyone else here seems to wear them with such ease that they wouldn’t have bat an eyelid seeing me wearing one anyway.

After sunbathing for no more then 40 minutes we went for lunch at a restaurant on the beach. Unlike the beach where we were staying (Jurere), it seemed as though all of the other beaches on the island had somewhere to go for lunch which didn’t make any sense to me. I mean Jurere did have beach clubs (infact none of the other beaches even had any beach clubs as the beach clubs were all located in Jurere), but they weren’t open for business – they only opened for “high season” and none of their websites specified when the high season was!

I guess you would only know if you were Brazilian! Extremely annoying. Anyway thankfully this beach seemed to have lots of beach restaurants to choose from and as we really couldn’t be bothered to look at the menu’s of them all we just chose the one where we were the least harassed (each restaurant had people posted on the beach who were responsible for bringing people in), but if they knew us then they should know that that’s exactly where we WON’T be going. As expected the food was a disappointment, but thankfully the drinks were not (I had passionfruit juice and Josh had an Acai smoothie). Yes the food was disappointing (they didn’t cook the chips properly and Josh’s burger looked questionable to say the least), but they had a toilet and they gave us a table on the beach with an umbrella which was much appreciated.

Talking of windsurfing, because of the strong wind, today was actually the perfect day to do wind surfing. We watched a few guys go at it for awhile – it looked like they couldn’t get enough and they were actually able to pick up some serious speed on the water. Josh still hopes to be able to give it a go at some point, if not here then perhaps somewhere in Europe. I could also see lots of people learning to surf here, and it looked MUCH easier to learn how to surf here then it did in Joaquina the day that we went. Which reminds me, our Uber man also offered to introduce us to a gold winning female surfer (so she could teach me how to surf of course)!

There were 2 annoying American’s sitting on the table next to us. This was not the first European voice that we had heard since arriving in Barra da Lagoa so it came as a bit of a shock as we weren’t used to hearing any other accents where we were staying but it seemed like it was much more touristy here.

I’m sure that there are states where American voices aren’t so annoying but for some reason most American female voices (especially) that I hear really grate on my nerves. And since I hadn’t really heard another foreign (meaning not Brazilian) voice for more then a month now it was particularly annoying. But it also has to be said that the CONTENT of the average American conversation is possibly what grates most of it. They are so.very.BASIC.  Just the kinds of conversations they have always seem to be so superficial. These girls were waffling on about utter nonsense, making petty comparisions of countries around the world and it just went on forever! I really couldn’t stand it but unfortunately I was far too relaxed on my chair on the beach to leave and let them get on with it! lol. Thankfully for Josh his hearing isn’t the greatest so he was blissfully unaware of the basic conversation I was having to endure (in a whiny, high pitched, extremely annoying American accent). Bloody awful.

Barra Da Lagoa

Afterwards we decided to go and have a look around the town. Expecting it to mirror the chilled out surfer vibe of the beach we were disappointed to find a rundown, sad town in a state of disrepair, with lots of shops selling cheap tatt (much like the ones in Centro were), even the pastries in the bakery looked sad, and there was dog droppings everywhere.

What is it with these people and their dogs??

Honestly, I’ve never seen so many dogs. I thought that Brits liked their dogs but these Brazilians LOVE their dogs. They are everywhere! And not the mutt ones either, they are pretty much all pedigree. Unfortunately they don’t seem to have the culture of cleaning up after said dogs and we have seen enough crusty dog poo to last a lifetime thank you very much, especially in this town I’m afraid to say. Beach: Beautiful. Town: Rundown.

We walked to the lake which was on the other side of the beach. It was a gorgeous emerald green colour and looked very clean. Lots of locals were swimming in it, paddle boarding on it and even snorkeling in it. There was a colony of exotic looking birds sitting atop the rocks which jutted out of the lake. Little colourful painted houses were perched on the hilltop overlooking it creating a mirror affect in the water. Fisherman and groups of competitive seniors played chess underneath the bridge in the sunshine. We decided to walk across the bridge and see what else we could discover about this place.

The first thing we noticed as we crossed the bridge was the dog poo. We walked through the narrow windy streets with rickety houses on both sides, side stepping encrusted dog poo as we went. We weren’t inspired by what we were seeing but there were so many people coming from the direction we were going towards that we continued on wondering what lay ahead. Eventually after a bit more climbing up the steep hilly incline we came to a sign that told us that there was a natural swimming area that you would have to hike to get to. It recommended not attempting the hike in sandals (which we were both wearing), but of course Josh was curious and wanted to proceed and see what it was all about. I, on the other hand, was not convinced however I didn’t want to let the side down so I followed him up!

Piscinas Naturais 

The hike itself was pretty easy (in comparison to the ones we’ve done in Thailand for instance), but what we weren’t entirely sure was how long it was going to go on for or just how difficult it was going to get further on. What we were blessed with though was a total contrast from the rundown town with it’s cheapo shops, questionable looking people and dog poo. An immensity of nature: Stunning natural forest trails, a panoramic view of the entire beach which looked glorious, a still turquoise sea, and a pure silence. I was hoping for, but didn’t expect this, and it was a pleasant and most welcome surprise. I didn’t mind the physical exertion, despite not being prepared for it or wearing the right clothing (and we were still carrying our beach bag), I felt good just being out in the fresh air and the sunshine enjoying what Brazil was offering us.

We walked through a trail covered by trees on both sides and then we saw huge, aggressive looking rock formations jutting out of the sea. Where do we go now? Looking at the locals right in front of us (carrying a 3 year old child), I watched in awe as they jumped on them, wearing no better footwear then us (we were at least wearing Birkenstocks which thankfully had some grip), but these people didn’t seem fazed in any way by the fact that if they made one slip on these gigantic rocks then both them and the innocent child they were carrying would fall to there watery deaths. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to chance this..I didn’t even know how to get to the water below that I could see crashing against the rocks they were jumping on. Would my sandals grip? And what if the rocks were slippery?

Josh and I made it down to the halfway point but rather then jumping onto the sharp jagged rocks jutting out of the sea precariously we decided to sit down watching the dare devil locals do backflips into the sea while the sun went down. No doubt this was a very special place indeed.

When we got home Josh’s back was red raw! For the first time since arriving in Brazil he had actually burnt himself. Neither of us could quite believe it as we had only sunbathed for about 40 minutes and it was so windy that it hadn’t felt very hot at all but the redness of his back said something different. Typically, he had also forgotten to apply suncream on this one occasion. Duh!

The views on the way to Piscinas Naturais  

Brazilians love football and for the first time today I found out that they, along with being pretty good at traditional football, also have a Beach Football World Cup! Who would have thunk it?

The Dry Cleaners, or Lavenderia’s as they’re called here, have destroyed my clothes.

When we arrived at our apartment I was very annoyed to find that there was no washing machine. I can see clearly where it SHOULD have gone as there is a gap underneath the kitchen counter top but for some reason that I cannot explain for the life of me, these people opted to leave out the washing machine. Washing ones clothes is not a luxury, it is a necessity yet it seems as though based on the sheer volume of Lavenderia’s in the neighbourhood, that rather then own a washing machine people used these places to wash their clothes instead. After getting over the initial disappointment of realising that I would now have to regularly traipse to one of these places with my dirty clothes over the next 6 weeks not to mention the awkwardness of having to try and communicate in a foreign language, it was also just bloody inconvenient, but that’s not the worst thing. Oh no, the worst thing is that despite us going to the Lavenderia that was recommended to us by our apartment manager, these people have destroyed a piece of clothing everytime that I have gone!

First it was my dress, which though not particularly pricey was still in good knick when I gave it to them but was returned to me with pieces of the threading unravelled in 3 separate places.

Then it was my white jeans. They came back more less white then they were when they went in!

Then, my shorts: I had accidentally dropped some coconut oil on them whilst I was greasing my scalp that morning. Well, these people (professional cleaners I hasten to add), returned my shorts to me with the same oil stain that I had given it to them with!

The last straw was my jeans. For some strange reason, when they returned my jeans to me, the zip was broken. What ON EARTH are these people doing to the clothes over there??

I actually had to pay to get the apartment manager to find someone to put a new zip on my jeans and I ended up getting the oil stain out myself using bog standard washing detergent from the supermarket, so why couldn’t they?

Naturally, after all of this nonsense, I was determined to find somewhere else to clean my clothes. But could we find anyone who would take them??

The answer is NO.

We went to 2 other local Lavenderia’s who both told us that no, they could not clean our clothes. Have you ever heard such a ridiculous thing?? Can’t clean? From a laundrette?! But alas, 2 bags of clothes they apparently could not clean. They both said that it would take them 3+ days to do our washing. Seriously? And one of the women, who we had asked before if she could fix the zip on my jeans and said no then too, had an eye missing. What are these people about?! I fumed. I thought that they were cleaners? – Goodness gracious me.

In the end we had NO CHOICE but to return back to the scene of the crime: We had to give our dirty clothes that we had been lugging around town trying to find someone to take from us, back to the Lavenderia who had destroyed them in the firstplace. I really hoped that they wash them properly and do not mash up my clothes this time!!

Oh, to be wild and free

The weather is supposed to be good tomorrow. At the top of our list of plans we wanted to do in Florianopolis was to see Lagoinha do Leste, the famous Florianopolis beach which is considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in Brazil and requires a hike to get to. We are currently trying to decide whether to do the hours drive then a 2 and half hours long trek with “paradise views” to or whether to attempt the hour long but very steep climb through covered forest instead. There is also an optional second part for more adventurous climbers (or people who just HAVE to have the picture for their Instagram), once you arrive at Lagoinha do Leste another hour long climb will take you to Moro da Coroa which we have seen many pictures of making it’s rounds on the internet. Moro da Coroa which is the highest climbable point on the mountain, rewards you with a breathtakingly beautiful panaroma of the entire beach and beyond. But since that’s a verticle climb up steep rocky formations I don’t think that either of us will be taking that one on! Especially since getting back down will likely be even more difficult then going up.

After reading some online reviews we decided to take the longer, easier route partly because we didn’t know exactly what level of difficulty their “difficult” was, and the longer route supposedly had incredible views of the coastline the whole way. The other route was via a covered forest so wasn’t as picturesque. As Lagoinha do Leste wasn’t very accessible to the public due to the difficulty in getting to it, we had to bring food and drinks with us as we were told that there were no facilities there.

So we strapped on our trainers, slathered on suncream and sprayed generous amounts of insect repellant and off we went. After the hours long drive down to our first beach: Praia do Matadeiro then via Praia Da Armacao we finally arrived at the start of our trail. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, I just knew that we had to see this marvel of nature. We had seen it on a vlog on Florianopolis a few months back and had been determined to see it ever since. I wondered whether there would be anyone else as crazy as us attempting this hike just to get to a beach when there was another 41 easily accessible ones to see!

Entering the trail the first thing that I noticed was how dark and cool it was in comparison to the intense heat of the sun which had been baring down on my back. Both Josh and I were carrying rucksacks with our beach towells, flip flops for the sand, water and some lunch. I was grateful for the cool breeze which came from above the forest, rustling through the trees and promising us some respite from the sun. We started walking through a rocky trail with densely packed forest either side of us and all was fine at first. There were breaks in the forest where we could see the coastline we were following and we could hear the constant sound of the waves roaring as they crashed onto the rocks.

Trekking through the forest soon turned into hiking through the forest as I tried in earnest to concentrate on not tripping over or twisting my ankle on the sporadically placed rocks jutting out of the muddy, uneven ground. The trail went this way and that, and sometimes it was hard to know which way to go as it suddenly petered out and then we had to search for it’s faint marking again through the densely covered forest. Goodness knows what would happen if we got lost in here I thought. Amongst the heavy silence, the rustling in the forest trees and bushes got louder and more frequent the deeper we went into the jungle seeming to almost echo and after 10 minutes of walking suddenly our views of the coast disappeared completely and we were plunged into partial darkness. The only light came from the dappled beam of sunlight beaming through the trees, our only company, ourselves. And the giant iguanas, much bigger then the ones that we had encountered near our apartment but thankfully just as tame, ran away upon hearing us, we saw their giant lizard like tail swooshing through the undergrowth as they went. But as for the other sounds, they were loud and alien to my ear. What I couldn’t see I was afraid to search for, and what I could hear I wasn’t particularly keen on encountering. Such as the hissing sound of snakes and the loud humm of the cicada’s who were a little too close to my ear for comfort. I was imagining that this might be the perfect resting place for Tarantula’s too – dark, cool, and with lots of vegetation for it to camoflage itself under. NOT ideal.

It soon became clear that this supposedly “easier” hike through the forest and mountain was not easy at all. Not at all. Coupled with the fact that I felt distinctly uneasy about sharing such close proximity with giant iguana’s, snakes and goodness knows what else, the hike was also quite technically difficult and now that we had lost the pleasure of the coastal views we were now very much on our own trying to navigate a very faint trail, that was both technically difficult and exhausting, and I had no way of knowing whether it was going to get any harder. I certainly hoped not. We were basically traversing up and over a mountain in order to get to this beach. We had to climb, clamber, step, jump and slide through the forest, up, around and over streams, logs, rocks and bushes until about an hour later we eventually came to a clearing. Now we were required to do the same again, this time on the cliff top of this mountain which we had to get around (whilst staying in one piece of course), as the swirling sea below, beautiful to behold but angry and powerful and ready to swallow up any inexperienced climbers from London whilst the wind howled around us, pushed us towards the cliff. It was at this point when I began to wander just what on earth we were doing there. Was it really necessary to go through ALL THIS just to see a beach? Especially when we had so many perfect ones within easy reach? – But I guess it was.

The moment that both of us had heard about Lagoinha do Leste we just knew that we had to see it. And perhaps it’s inaccessibility, rarity and unspoilt natural beauty was what really attracted us. And anyway, it was too late now. We were already half way up this mountain and giving up would mean trekking back through that forest again which was something that I was not keen to do. No, we’d just have to plod on regardless. And try to conserve some energy for the remaining hour and a half of the journey, because goodness knows what else this mountain is going to throw at us! Easy? Yeah right! (to be fair to the bloggers, nobody actually said that it was easy, they just said that it was “easier” then the hour long hike from the South Swamp end, but that remained to be seen).

What was going through my mind was the finality of it all. If either of us made a wrong move here and tripped, I wasn’t entirely sure that we would survive because there was a verticle drop into the sea from this clifftop and not only did I not want Josh to perish here, I didn’t want to have to explain to his Mum why I had agreed to letting him do this hike wearing his 20 years old Adidas trainers that consequently tore at the front in the exertion of the climb.

The surrounding views were staggering beautiful. Like a dream too beautiful to dream. But my eyes could not appreciate it fully as I was concentrating on staying alive! That was my aim and my only aim at this time. I just put one foot in front of the other, told my tired legs that we would be there soon and kept on climbing.

Suddenly we rounded the cliff and then we were out fully onto a vast area of densely packed scrubland. We proceeded to hike through and up it, scratching our legs on the cactus’ and stinging nettles that covered the area in the process. And then we saw her in her full glory, this beach that promised so much but asked for just a little more from us in return. The relief in reaching this utterly exquisite beach was palpable. We weren’t alone though, a couple of other brave souls had made the journey here too and were seemingly enjoying the seclusion and perfection of a beach that was almost untouched.

This was a luxurious beach. A wild and natural beauty.

Located tucked within a wide bay, and with that unbelievably thick and pure sand, the sand here was more yellow, the sea even wilder, freezing cold to the touch and as clear as glass. The lush green bay surrounding it kept this paradise a complete secret from all but those who dared to discover her. With the sea on one side and a glassy lagoon on the other, she reigned supreme over them all. I had heard that this beach was possibly the best beach in all of Brazil and now that I’ve sampled her exquisite beauty for myself I can well believe that this is true.

Hiking to Lagoinha do Leste

Lagoinha do Leste

Contentment

Afterwards we took the hour long “more difficult” trail back. This was for 2 reasons: the length of time that it would take us to go back the way we came (more then double the time) and the fact that neither of us thought that the hike had been easy at all. We figured that if the other trail was just as hard or even harder, then we would rather save the time and go back that way. The wind was very strong and was seemingly getting stronger. I did not want to have to climb down a mountain whilst the wind was inching me towards the sea below.

After doing the “harder” trail we both agreed that in our opinion it was not harder. It was just bloody knackering. But so was the other trail and the other route took an hour and a half longer in duration plus it was technically more difficult and covered 3 terrains: the deep dark forest, the windy cliff top and a scrubland filled with stinging nettles. Also, even though it was more picturesque overall, the forest part was the longest part of the trail and there were no sea views whilst we were making our way through it. On the way back we stopped at our fourth beach: Pantana Do Sol which was much more beach bum friendly.

Tomorrow we leave this paradise island of Florianopolis in search of another: Trancoso, in Bahia, Brazil.

Florianopolis: You had me at beach. If you are a beach lover, you couldn’t really do much better then this Brazilian island with it’s abundance of beautiful natural beaches that most people outside of Brazil have never seen and don’t even know exist. However to say that this island has stolen my heart would be a bit of an untruth. The people are friendly and clearly there is alot of money here (especially in Jurere Internationale) and it is safe, but there is perhaps something missing in my estimation from what makes a destination truly memorable. A soul, an atmosphere, an authenticity maybe. The food hasn’t been great, and the bossa nova and samba music that I was eager to hear never did surface. They are perhaps a little too Americanised here, and are in need of that special ingredient: Brazilian Soul.

My observations on my journey thus far:

The Brazilian people look good

They’re really into their fitness

They like pedigree dogs, local beer and of course, football!

It’s always beef, seafood or Italian. Oh and preferably buffet style

Their pronounciation for things is odd. Like Cevejas for instance, which is beer, is pronounced Suh Vess Ah

The people are very friendly

Their beaches are incredibly beautiful

Lavenderia’s (laundrettes) sometimes do not want to wash your clothes!

And many shops stay Fechado (closed) even when they should be Alfredo (open)

Condomfish is a regular occurrence

You cannot flush toilet tissue down the loo

Acai is my new favourite thing

Wearing a Brazilian Biquini is the norm for Brazilian women of all ages

Uber drivers like to make conversation with you even when you tell them you can only speak English

 

Josh and I in Barra Da Logoa 

 

Week 5 in Florianopolis, Brazil

Week 5 in Florianopolis, Brazil

The contrast of this place now that the sun has finally come out to stay cannot be understated. We went from experiencing a literal ghost town to being bombarded by families and their over pampered handbag dogs running around on our otherwise tranquil beach. It’s not that I have anything against native Brazilians who have come to enjoy their day at the beach, but being around a concentration of yap yap dogs and screaming children whilst I am trying to enter into a zen-like state is not my idea of a fun (or relaxing) day out.

But really I haven’t much to complain about. These days we are arising when our body clock tells us that it’s time to, making the short walk to the kitchen blurry eyed to have a simple but tasty breakfast of granola with fruit, yoghurt and acai whilst watching the unfolding Trump Impeachment drama’s for our daily dose of laughter, working for a few hours in the local supermarket cafe, our favourite place to work because the air con works properly, the ladies who work there are always very nice to us, they do great coffee and the toilets are always very clean and smell nice, before going off to the beach for the rest of the afternoon. So, not bad at all really!

Finding decent coffee is a little more challenging then one would expect in a coffee growing nation such as Brazil. Alas, they had clearly farmed out all of their good stuff to the Americans and Europeans as there were hardly any good coffee places around. Clearly, to the Brazilians, coffee drinking culture is more of a European thing.

The gardens that our apartment overlooks, and that we have the pleasure to use whilst we’re staying here, is like a tropical paradise. Whoever designed it clearly had an eye for garden design as aside from the pool (which is plastic and therefore not in the least bit appealing) it is truly lovely. Featuring a large grassy area with stone steps leading down to our private and discreet entrance to the beach, the exotic trees, plants and flowers that decorate it are colourful and abundant. A covered terrace made from bamboo wood houses a lovely outdoor sitting area amidst the trees and a jacuzzi bathtub. From the terrace you are able to watch the people go by on the beach which is a mere few steps away whilst being totally unseen by them: Genius.

These past weeks we have seen a steady stream of people in the apartment block come and go (all Brazilian) but now it seems they have all gone again.

Apart from this one family..

Despite the apartments being small (ours isn’t the smallest I know but it’s small nontheless and I don’t think that the others are much bigger), people have actually brought their bloody dogs with them and kept them cooped up in the heat in their small apartment allday long. No wonder they have been barking their heads off and thus spoiling our #luxurynap.

But this family have gone one step further. They have brought 2 children with them. One about 5 years old and the other just a baby, the 5 year old is out of control. He doesn’t seem to have been taught the life skill of keeping his voice down yet, nor does he realise (I’m guessing because his parents have neglected to inform him), that this garden does not belong to him. The garden, and in particular the jacuzzi, which Josh and I like to use in the evening after an exhausting 😉 day at the beach, most certainly does not belong to him and he should therefore not hog it for the entire day.

Jacuzzi Wars

It’s not that I have any intention of lazing about in the jacuzzi allday and it’s far too hot to sit in during the day when we’re in 30 degree heat but in the early evening, after we have done a bit of work, had lunch and gone to the beach for a couple of hours to top up our tans we like to pick up a few cans of beer (Bohemia beer usually because I like the name :), as the sun is going down we like to go into the Jacuzzi for a daily debrief and a #relaxavous. And despite it being large enough to perhaps host around 4 people without it getting a bit too close for comfort we do not like to go in there when other sweaty bodies are stretching themselves out in it and most definitely not with screaming children who are likely to be splashing about like they are in their bubble bath at bedtime: No thank you!

This family of four had literally been in the garden allday long. We know this because we were in the “Sal De Fiesta” working whilst they were going from the jacuzzi to the pool and back again the entire time that we were there. The annoying child was splashing about, yelling and screaming, and the parents were jumping and/or diving into the pool and playing their very uninspiring music whilst there were at it. Infact the only innocent party was the one family member that I would have expected to hear more from: the baby, who didn’t make a peep. It was quite painful it has to be said.

Why they felt the need to stay holed up in the garden allday long is beyond me. There is a whole island to explore! (unless if like us you were working which they were not). Anyway, I didn’t have anything against them using the facilities that they, like ourselves, had paid for and of course we were getting the enjoyment of using it for the whole 6 weeks we were staying here but when we returned from our beach trip later on that day these people were still at it, still in the area, still hogging the garden (the little boy’s toy’s and clothes were sprawled everywhere), and they were still as loud as could be.

Well, I thought to myself, at least the jacuzzi is free…

We were not going to have this family spoiling our evening routine with their very predictable and extremely dull holiday activities. We put our belongings down and in we went into the awaiting jacuzzi. The jacuzzi temperature was controlled by a gauge on the side and as I like it very hot I set about adjusting it accordingly. But no sooner had we settled down to finally enjoy some peace and quiet in the jacuzzi tub do I see this bloody little boy careening around the corner shouting out the words “Jacuzzi!” back at his trailing mother as if he really had the audacity to think that the jacuzzi was available for his family (and therefore him) to use whenever he wanted it! Well you can imagine that the boy got the shock of his life when he saw that Josh and I were sitting in it. I pointedly ignored him, pretending that I never heard him say a thing and willing him to dare try and come in whilst we were in there. He did not.

Needless to say after a few minutes of them trying to wait it out hoping that we would leave soon so that this little boy could get his hearts desire (the whole family even splashed about in the cold pool for a bit trying to pretend that that was what they were really interested in), but eventually they gave up. Good riddance.

We saw that piglet/hog/weasle/rat thing again..oh, and the gigantic iguana’s who appear to live in our garden. But still no creepy crawlies. Of course I’m not trying to will them to appear, I’m just a little shocked is all. No mosquitoes (well very few in any case), hardly any cockroaches at all (including in our apartment thank goodness), no gecko’s (remember that horrible #geckoinvasion we had in Thailand?), no, not even spiders or flies. Hardly any creatures at all! This is a luxury that simply cannot be understated.

However we have seen a few interesting looking (dead) sea creatures wash up on the beach, such as a swordfish (or something very similar), a giant turtle with his head in the sand (very upsetting to see), a puffa fish and huge grouper fish. Along with the very many beautiful birds I have seen here I have literally never seen any of these sea creatures in the wild anywhere else before. It’s pretty cool. Not that they were dead though, that’s not cool.

Rather then travelling to other beaches much further away, and especially after the ordeal at Joaquina Beach which was far too packed for either of our liking, we have been staying much closer to home this week. During the weekend Jurere Beach was quite busy (though nowhere near like Joaquina Beach was and Jurere is far smaller), but now that the week has rolled around it has emptied out again and now there’s just the occasional dog walker, a few couples and even fewer families. Since Josh found that utterly perfect spot set back from the beach but with a gentle sea breeze and magnificent view we have had the whole area pretty much to ourselves so we have gone back to the exact same place each time. It is utterly wonderful. Aside from someone bringing me the occasional cold drink (we bring our own but in the heat it can get a little lukewarm), or a hot TASTY meal we have hardly known such simple and indulgent pleasure!

On another, slightly more superficial note: my tan, which I have been cultivating with pride these past weeks has finally reached an impressive level, and even my face which is usually stupidly lighter then the rest of my body has evened out and joined the rest of my body in dark brown loveliness. Also my weight, which over the year ballooned suddenly after years of staying the same without fluctuation, has been lost. I’m pretty chuffed I have to say!

JW.ORG

Not satisfied with making all of their prior followers lives a misery, JW.ORG aka The Jehovah’s Witnesses have set themselves up in Brazil of all places and are doing pretty well from what I can see with JW.ORG premises all over the island and lots of “pioneers” standing to attention on the street corners (and outside the Supermarket that we go to work in), promoting their #fakenews religious wares. They have been instructed by “the governing body” (a real institution), not to approach people as such but to make their presence known in the hope that someone (anyone!) will approach them interested in hearing about their religion. Personally though I am amused to see them standing around in 30 degree heat with nothing to do (as I never seen anyone approaching them), but I also just find it a bloody terrible waste of time.

I mean can you imagine what all of these religious people could get done in their lifetimes not to mention all of the money that goes to line the pockets of their corrupt religious leaders if everyone just cut the crap and started using their brains, hearts and hands to actually solve the various crisis of humanity rather then standing on the roadside, knocking on doors or praying to an invisible deity that nobody has even seen much less heard from? If the Bible or any other “holy” book proves the existence of a creator then Harry Potter proves the existence of Gandalf. Sound far fetched? – Exactly! Honestly, it really boggles the mind why people continue to waste their time on this nonsense.

I am getting used to the toilet usage here in Brazil, much to my dismay. Basically, you cannot flush toilet tissue down the loo so it means that all of your “spoils” must be disposed of in the bins provided. This is pretty easy to remember when all you have is wee, not so easy when it’s “other things” and women have other other things which aren’t so pleasant to see a momento of.

We went to Lucila’s Bistro today. You know, that place with the lovely pastries that is clean and well designed and very popular that has multiple restaurants in town but that when we went to it we were given undercooked seabass? Yes, that one. Well, we decided to give them another shot seeing as when we went in their to work we saw that their buffet lunch looked okay. Actually it looked pretty good.

Yes, I DO hate buffets but we’re fast running out of food options here. I can’t eat a cheese and ham croissant everyday for goodness sake.

So we decided that after working for a couple of hours in the Supermarket Cafe we’d go there for lunch and see what the fuss was all about. As previously mentioned the movements of these people is a bit of a mystery. Sometimes we see them en masse and other times they are nowhere to be seen but it has to be said that everytime we have walked past Lucila’s Bistro that was the one place where we always saw them en masse, and they looked like they were enjoying the food very much indeed. How buffets tend to work here is that they give you a card, you fill your plate with whatever you want to eat and then they weigh it for you, adding the balance to your card. It’s pretty simple really and the food as suspected (because if i’m ever in doubt as to whether food will be a let down or not I can usually tell just by looking at it), was really good. I had Moqueca, my Brazilian friends will be very happy with me for this as Moqueca is a traditional Brazilian fish stew made with white fish, onions, tomatoes and coconut milk. And it’s really good! I also had chickpea curry, a quiche, carbonara and some vegetables. All delicious. Josh had a lasagne and some other things which he also said was really good. So now that we have officially taste tested their lunch menu they will be seeing us again! So far Lucila’s Bistro has been without a doubt the nicest food we’ve had for lunch since we arrived. It only took us 4 weeks to find out! LOL.

We also found another decent restaurant, as you will remember me saying, here they only seem to offer a limited set of cuisines: buffet, beef, bbq, seafood and italian, there’s not much else on offer and if there is it should probably be viewed suspiciously. The restaurant was called Forneria Paulistana, a pizzeria which we couldn’t find at first and actually ended up walking into a creperie but not the one that Josh kept on trying to go to, and once we’d established that we were in the wrong restaurant walked promptly out again. The waiter didn’t seem to be too happy, lol. But once we’d found the italian restaurant we were glad to have walked out of the creperie and gone there instead as the place had been designed tastefully with high ceilings with wooden beams, a warm and cosy atmosphere, friendly staff and open kitchens. They only served pizza’s which was cool only we could hardly understand what all of the toppings were as it was all written in Portuguese. In the end we ordered a pizza with 3 toppings to share (which was pretty big) and we also had some starters, Josh had some bruschetta which basically looked like a pizza and tasted like cheese on toast with tomato on top, and I had a Caprese Salad. Both were really good so we have put them on the “Good” list along with Lucila’s.

So so far we have:

Very Good

Jay’s Bistro

Good

Lucila’s Bistro (lunch)

Forneria Paulistana

And I can now also add Paty’s Garden to the “Good” list as we went there and the food was nicely cooked. Josh had a steak (they didn’t ask him how it should be cooked but it looked like they cooked it medium-rare anyway), and I had a shrimp linguini which was fresh and tasty. For dessert we both had flambayed banana’s which had been slightly burnt to give it texture and flavour. It was served with ice cream and was the perfect ending to a very good food day!

And believe it or not I even have a third entry into the Very Good restaurant division: Bettina Bub. Another French inspired restaurant like Jay’s (but with a silly name), we went there after reading some complimentary reviews online (and by studying the accompanying pictures to be certain). Unlike the other restaurants around town, Bettina Bub (and Paty’s too as it was actually located on the groundfloor of Paty’s guesthouse), whom we met whilst we were dining and who was very friendly, was situated in an intimate garden with it’s dining area in a big greenhouse surrounded by beautiful trees, flowers and decorated with twinkling fairy lights and candles throughout.

The atmosphere was very romantic; the decor original, the food very good and the service excellent. It was definitely somewhere that we would be more then happy to return to. So this week I’m delighted to say, we have done pretty well in the food department! 🙂

US politics are far more entertaining then British politics (mainly because of Tramp Trump it has to be said), and thus we have been tuning in to regularly to watch the impeachment hearing as it unfolds aswell as watching more TV hosts then I can count roast him to within an inch of his miserable orange life. Alas it looks like this Christmas will be a Brexmas Christmas back in the UK and I can’t tell you how relieved I am to not have any part of it. Here in Brazil, they celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve but it doesn’t appear to be that big of a deal here. I’ve seen a few decorations here and there but nothing over the top and tacky and certainly nothing like we have back in the UK along with Brexmas to make us all want to wish we had never bothered with this bloody Brexit nonsense to start with!

Lagoa

We had driven past this area on our way to Campeche and Joaquina beaches and liked it’s laid back surfer vibe plus we could see that it had lots of restaurants and cafes for us to check out so since the weather was going to be overcast allday we decided to take the opportunity to go there for the day. After our disappointing experience at Joaquina Beach, where every woman, man, child and his dog on the entire island decided to turn up on the same day as us despite there being another 41 beaches to explore, I had decided that I wasn’t going to chance it travelling to any of the popular beaches on the island on a weekend again. Unlike other people (the majority of whom were locals), we had the luxury of going to the beaches whenever we felt like it. We had a whole 6 weeks to explore and we weren’t confined by work or taking children to school, which meant that we had the ultimate flexibility really.

It was such a windy day that I was very relieved to have worn jeans instead of my usual shorts and vest or dress. Being a beach town there were lots of surf inspired shops and bikini (or biquini as the Brazilians spell it!) shops too which was exactly what I was looking for. Finally, after all of these weeks was I going to finally get my desired Brazilian Biquini?

After eating an overly salty Green Thai Curry (something that I’d been craving since I’d arrived, dreams of Thailand), we checked out a few of the biquini shops but I was finding it hard to describe to them what I was looking for since I didn’t know the words in Portuguese or even in English, so had resorted to doing sign language to no avail.

We went to a cafe for coffee and decided to try out Tapioca Pancakes for the first time. I’d heard about Tapioca Pancakes before from Josh’s friends wife who was Brazilian but I’d never had them before so I was excited to finally get to try. White, more harder and grittier then a traditional pancake and much less sweet, you could either order them with a sweet or savoury filling. We ordered them with chocolate and banana and it was really good! I would definitely have them again. Infact just writing about them makes me want to have one right now!

After coffee we perused a few more shops until we came upon one called with the name Bali, and since Bali has a special place in our hearts we thought that we should definitely check it out. A few seconds after we went inside a shop assistant approached me asking me my name (in Portuguese of course). This was becoming more awkward for me as it seemed the Brazilians loved to talk and would try and engage you in conversation whenever they could (particularly when you went into their shop). They obviously assumed that I was Brazilian too but I couldn’t understand a word they were saying so naturally could not respond back to them, all I could say was that I was British and only knew a few Portuguese words and then they would look embarrassed and either try and converse with me in English or walk away if they couldn’t.

I recognised the phrase for “What is your name?” (just about!) and answered her, but after that I couldn’t converse with her anymore as her English was limited and my Portuguese was almost nonexistent. Suddenly an older lady appeared who was obviously the shop keeper and she began talking to us in English asking us where we were staying, how long we were in Brazil for? etc. Her English was really good and we soon found out that she had been taking lessons since her daughter lived in Australia and she had an Australian grandchild who didn’t speak any Portuguese so she would be unable to communicate with her if she didn’t speak and understand English.

The lady looked to be in her 60’s yet she seemed to have an even better command of English then even this younger woman who we could tell was dying to converse with us but didn’t yet have to skills too, she just stood there obviously enjoying listening to the conversation going on between Josh and I and this woman. They were both really friendly, and after we told her about visiting Joaquina Beach the older woman told us that her daughter ran a surf school there where she taught people how to surf. She said that if we were around for a bit longer then we should definitely check her daughters surf school out, as she also offered private lessons (in English!). After a few more minutes of conversation between which she confirmed that Portuguese was a hard language to learn, she said that Trancoso in Bahia (our next stop) was a beautiful part of Brazil. She also warned us that it got very hot in Bahia! Apparently, we had come to Florianopolis at a good time, whilst it was still relatively quiet and the weather was hot yet mild. She admitted that for some reason the whole of Brazil tended to holiday at exactly the same time and over December/January so it got really busy, far too busy for her (and therefore probably our) tastes.

Finally, I found a biquini shop! It was just a small shack like shop really but I could clearly see from the window that there were lots and lots of biquini’s, in different styles and colours and most of them had the Brazilian shape that I was looking for. I went inside and thankfully the male shop keeper spoke English because I really didn’t want to have to do hand gestures to describe to him what I was looking for! After no more then a few minutes I found one that I liked – a simple navy blue design with the important out and out backside feature.

I was determined to become a fully fledged member of the Brazilian community on this trip. Now I just need to conjure up the bravery to wear the bloody thing! LOL