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

 

Week 4 in Florianopolis

Week 4 in Florianopolis

We have been in Brazil 4 weeks already!

Truth be told, I feel like we have been here for much longer then a month, infact I’ve almost completely forgotten about the UK and my old life. Seems a little funny to say “old life” but from now on that is what it will be! The only thing about the UK that I remember and miss is of course my family (and good restaurants!) but I have been in contact with them via Facetime and Whatsapp which is almost as good as being there in person.

A Tale of 2 Halves

The beginning of the week we were trapped. Trapped in our apartment, trapped in cafe’s, trapped in restaurants, trapped in shops. Trapped because the weather that we had been promised on all of the weather charts we had perused before coming here failed to mention the most important fact: that this part of Brazil still had the occasional storm which sometimes lasted the entire day. There was absolutely we could do about it apart from making sure that we had enough food provisions at home in cases of emergency, in this instance and emergency was: downpours of rain that came suddenly but lasted a long time, and despite the air still being warm the rain was not: it was ice cold.

Having an apartment on the beach was obviously a bonus when the weather was good but when it was wet and stormy like this it was not. Ominous, heavy black skies spread overhead with thunder and lightening that shook the skies and churned the seas knocking the sails off of the millionaires boats docked in the bay.

During the day when the rain did calm down it was a ghost town. We struggled to find places that had frequent opening times or better ye, that served good food and coffee. We were reduced to spending most of our time in the Supermarket Cafe, and when the weather was better, Cafe Cultura which was located in Jurere’s Open Shopping Centre. Thankfully we had work to do so the time passed quickly, I fear if we had nothing to do or worse yet was on holiday and therefore had limited time, then we would have been much more affected by the weather. But as it was, we had another 3 weeks of Florionopolis to enjoy and explore, and we were determined to enjoy all that it had to offer us.

My Mum had an operation on her knee. This was something that she had been dreading, and thus had me a little concerned as I knew that she was worried about it and neither myself or my sister would be there to be with her. Obviously my brothers were still around but with one of them otherwise occupied with the birth of his first son and my older brother awaiting the birth of his first daughter, I knew that it would be up to my youngest brother to make sure that she was okay. Thankfully the operation seems to have been a success. She had an injection in her knee, a new type of procedure using plasma which was supposed to be a more effective way of easing the pain. If the injection didn’t work then the hospital had spoken of doing knee operation which I know she wasn’t keen on doing and I didn’t blame her!

My Dad had a knee op a couple of years ago and his knee has never been the same again. Infact I know that he wishes he didn’t bother and my Mum’s knee was/is much worse then his. Alas it seems that since having it the pain in her knee that was causing her to be in continual pain and limp, has largely gone. I really hope that this continues!

What I have realised during all of my jaunts around the world is that loss of mobility is a terrible thing. In old age this is almost a guarantee so I’m hoping that I can delay it or minimise it as much as possible. The world is a big place awaiting discovery. I would hate to have my movement restricted because of poor health.

By now we had ventured to every recommended coffee shop and most of the restaurants in the area and we still had nowhere that we could reliably recommend to friends and family so we had resigned ourselves to the fact that buffets and bbq’s were part of the culture in Brazil, we couldn’t escape them, but where ever possible we would try to avoid them. Knowing this and because we were running out of available options we tried 2 other restaurants in the area which we had previously walked past, as we didn’t find them particularly appealing. Both restaurants were 2 person meal restaurants, which was basically just another buffet alternative. We had encountered this before in Campeche, Centro and in Canasveiras but after asking whether they had any other menu’s and being told no, we realised that like it or not we’d have to order the same dish because that was the only way they did it! Goodness only knows what would happen if one of us was a vegetarian, or if Josh (who was celiac) actually stuck to his gluten free diet, we would both be done for! Thankfully we pretty much like eating the same thing anyway so we chose our dish and crossed our fingers that it was cooked properly. Thankfully both the chicken we ordered there and the Carbonara that we ordered in the other 2 person meal restaurant was quite good so we have put them both on our “Okay” list. Bare in mind the food only qualify’s as okay, not good. We only have 1 restaurant on the “Good” list, meaning we would return and would recommend to friends and family if they visited Florianopolis and thankfully we planned to go back to our Good restaurant the following night.

Jay’s Bistro

Impressed with the quality of the food, the presentation, the variety and the service, we booked a table at Jay’s. The last time we had been there I ordered their Patagonian Lamb dish that came with a truffle risotto, and then mistakenly ordered truffle again for dessert, which was an inventive truffle creme brulee with raspberry sorbet (thinking it would be chocolate truffle not truffle truffle), and I did not want to make that mistake again as I was all truffled out!

This time I had the quite plain sounding “whitefish” main course. Remembering our horrific experience eating fish at the islands supposedly top johnny seafood restaurant I almost didn’t order it but then I contrasted the meal at Marisqueira Sintra to the meal that I had previously had at Jay’s and there was no contest. Jay’s was head and shoulders above anything those people had conjured up in there diabolical establishment and they should be bloody ashamed of themselves running a food business when their fish wasn’t fresh and most certainly wasn’t tasty.

I had scallops for my first course, which was perfectly cooked in a tomato and bacon flavoured sauce, and unlike when you order scallops at fine dining restaurants in London and you only get around 3 of them, they very generously gave me 9! So by the time my main course arrived I was already feeling a little full but of course the food was so delicious that I couldn’t let it go to waste.

Wine isn’t really a thing here. They are much more into beer, infact they REALLY like beer. There’s lot’s of different varieties and they drink it throughout the day not just in the evening. Josh and I are partial to their Brazilian beer too, our favourite one is called Bohemia. We pick it up by the case load at the Supermarket so that we can easily take a few cans down to the beach to drink. I get the sense that the conditions aren’t quite right for wine making here so they make beer instead and import wine from Chile and Argentina usually. We tried some Chilean wine with dinner (white), but it was quite sweet. Almost like a dessert wine actually. I’m sure that they have some nice wines in Chile but I doubt very much they will beat French wine in my estimations.

My whitefish came with a banana puree which perfectly contrasted with it’s full flavour and meaty texture. It was drizzled with another creamy sauce also which took away some of the intense sweetness of the banana. The presentation was very beautiful and if I could have been bothered to I would have taken a picture but unfortunately I could not. I’m not doing very well with this picture taking business on this trip I have to admit, lol.

Josh’s dish of steak and frites tasted and looked much sexier then it sounds. The steak had been cut up into small strips, was cooked perfectly medium as he had asked and came with a delicious sauce that had alot of flavour and a little bit of heat (looks like they DO use chilli’s here afterall!)

Cinnamin seems to be the only spice they use here. They definitely do not use spice in the same way that we do, infact they seem to prefer a sweet taste rather then spicy heat. There is an abundance of inventive cakes here, and though I am a cake lover, having a proper meal is more enjoyable to me overall. Cake is to be had with a cup of tea or is the accompaniment to ones meal (if your belly isn’t full and sometimes even when it is!). It is not the meal itself.

I ordered the same truffle dessert as I wasn’t too keen on the sound of the lemon dessert they were offering. It wasn’t a cake and it wasn’t a tart but something in between.

Whilst we were at dinner I had a missed video call from my sister, including 2 of my brothers in a four way call. I didn’t even know that you could do a four way video call but apparently you could. I hadn’t spoken to my sister via Facetime for a couple of weeks, assuming that she, like myself, had been off doing her thing, enjoying her time in Bolivia and making the most of the time that she got back from pressing pause on her 9-5 life and as I wasn’t connected to wifi I couldn’t call her back until I got home but when I did call her back I got the shock of my life!

My sister was hooked up to an oxygen machine with a drip attached to her arm lying in a hospital bed!

I knew that she had arrived safely in Peru a few days ago – her second destination after being in Bolivia for a month as she had told the family via Whatsapp, but apparently she had become ill with some kind of stomach bug and couldn’t keep any food down so she called a Doctor to come and have a look at her but when the Doctor checked her oxygen levels she said that it was too low for the current altitude and then proceeded to call her an ambulance to take her to the hospital!

The Doctor said that she was probably suffering from altitude sickness in addition to having a food bug and they would need to monitor her and get her oxygen levels back up. Seeing her laying in that hospital bed on her own (her travelling partner was back at the hostel), was utterly awful. I felt completely powerless as I imagined how strange it must have felt for her to be alone in this strange country which she had only just arrived in, to now be in a hospital bed, being told by these foreign doctors and nurses that she would have to stay overnight whilst they tried to ascertain what bug she had that would cause her to not be able to keep down any food.

And the worst thing was that she didn’t want me to say a word to my Mum as she didn’t want her to be alarmed. Of course I understood from her point of view why she didn’t want Mum to know (she would freak out!) but that didn’t make it any easier for me. Her plan had been to climb Machiu Picchu in a couple of days, which would require her being in peak physical condition but I wasn’t sure that she should be planning anymore treks that would put her body under anymore undue pressure as she had already been sick and had to call a doctor when she was in Bolivia and I told her as much but at the end of the day it is up to her. It is her travels and she has to be the one to make the decisions as to what she wants to do and most importantly, what her body is capable of coping with.

But having a back to back itinerary without factoring much rest in for what already is a physically exhausting activity, baring in mind the altitude effects on the body, isn’t a smart idea. And there is certainly a way that she could still see/do many of the things she wants to without breaking her body in order to do so.

Thankfully they discharged her the following afternoon with a whole host of meds and she has since told Mum of her ordeal so hopefully that will be the end of it. From now on rather then assume that she’s okay I’m going to check in on her every couple of days to make certain she is.

Brazilians are really into their dogs. Perhaps even more so then children, lol. They certainly treat them like their children and most of them have one around here, usually the small fluffy kinds, otherwise known as handbag dogs, like chihuahua’s, shih tzu’s, pomeranians and french bulldogs and I have seen lots of breeds that I’ve never seen before too, and interesting colours of popular toy breeds.

I saw a lady with a black and white Pomeranian the other day, it had white fluffy hair with 2 black spots on it’s face – super cute. Alas Josh has convinced me that getting a dog would absolutely not be a good idea as it would require us to hold back on our travelling (which naturally isn’t an option). As it is our cats Frankie and Sansa are cared for by our lodger whilst we’re away and to be honest with you on a day to day basis we forget about them and back home completely, as this is our life now. Cats are very different from dogs as they are quite self sufficient and so long as they are being fed they largely do not care whose around or not, which suits us just fine. We go away so often that they are used to not seeing us but that would be cruel if we had dogs. Still, it doesn’t stop me daydreaming about having one (though not about picking up their doo doo or having to take them on walks in the rain!).

People here are very laid back and family orientated, they are a very communicative people, open and at ease. They are also very tactile with one another which is lovely to see. Even the older generation hold hands as they walk down the street.

Joaquina Beach

After a week or so of rain, heavy skies and storms the weather forecast changed it’s gloomy forecast to something more to our liking: Wall to wall sunshine for the last 2 weeks of our stay in Floripa.

We had been largely planning our days based on the forecast – and today was the day to start doing the things that we’d had to shelve due to bad weather. Joaquina Beach was one of the beaches (out of the incredible 42+) that were on the island, that we wanted to visit. It actually was pretty near to Campeche but had been too far for us to walk to at the time, and it took around an hour to get there door to door from our apartment.

The contrast between the past couple of days in the streets was stark. Where before there was hardly anyone walking the streets now there was people everywhere. In the shops, standing in groups talking on the street, crossing the road, people all over the place. Even the cafe that we went to where we were usually one of their only customers was packed to the brim with people. And what was the difference between yesterday and today? – the sun was the difference. The sun drew all of these people from wherever they had been hiding and now they were out in full affect. It was nice driving through the colourful streets of Florianopolis, watching all of the people going about their daily business. After all of that rain it seemed as though the whole island was determined to make the very most of this beautiful day.

The one thing we did notice was how undeveloped many parts of town were, and in ignorance I guess, I also wasn’t aware that favela’s existed in Brazil outside of Rio, but they do. A favela is basically just a shanty town, where low income people live, that has largely been neglected by the government as if it doesn’t exist but of course it, and the people who live in them do exist. The traffic was heavy, but as promised the sun was relentless, I guessed many of these people were heading to the exact same place as us: The beach, though which one of the 42 they would go to was yet to be revealed!

Joaquina Beach was packed. I mean packed like there were so many bodies on the beach that we could hardly even see the sand beneath them packed. All of the people had umbrella’s up and when we first arrived it was very difficult to even see a path where we would be able to walk through. It was INSANE. The beach wasn’t as wide and long as Campeche (which was an utter dream of a beach), but what I simply could not understand is why people insisted on being bunched up next to each other like sardines in a can. Not to mention the fact that they wouldn’t be able to see anything: there was no privacy whatsoever, and you could hear the conversation of the body laying next to you (who you did not even know), not to mention feel their body heat on what already was a spectacularly hot day. NO thank you!

My immediate reaction was that I wanted to turn back and go home. I’m not into crowded beaches and this one was overcrowded to the max. However Josh could see that there was an area where we would be able to go where there was much much less people. First we climbed up the huge rock formations that overlooked the beach and the wild waves below, where lots of surfers liked to go.

Alas today, probably due to the prominent red flags all over the beach, there were no surfers out. The sea was unruly, spitting up lots of heaving white foam that didn’t look friendly at all. Swimming? Forget about it. Surfing? No chance.

And to think I had been considering having beginner surfing lessons here! I had read that this beach was one of the best places in Floripa to do that but judging by the fact that I could see no surf boards out I doubted that today was the best day to do so. If even the pro’s weren’t out then what chance did I have?

There is some kind of herd mentality here. They all seem to do alot of the same things: Big into beauty, love dogs, bbq’s, buffets, steaks and sunbathing. They don’t swim much. They prefer to sunbathe or go on long beach walks. To be fair to them actually they are much more active then me as all I do on a beach is sunbathe, read, snooze, go for a walk, people watch and swim, whereas they are big into playing games, whether that be bat and ball (very popular in Brazil), volleyball or even football (girls play too and from what I can see they are just as good as the boys, they even do headers and football tricks). Very impressive ladies!

The view from the rocks was an absolute sight to behold, but the problem was that there was just far too many people up there. Too many people on the rocks, definitely too many people posing on the rocks for their Instagram accounts no doubt and far too many people on the beach itself. In contrast, our more family orientated beach was much more to our liking. Though there was the occasional annoying overexcited child running about the place and screeching as they plunged head first into the sea, it was still much less populated here, which was just aswell because our beach was much more narrow then here.

Joaquina was a very wide beach but that didn’t make much difference to us as it was still it was wall to wall with Brazilian bodies who were seemingly unaware that there were other places they could sunbathe which didn’t mean that someones Brazilian bum would be in their faces! We walked further down the beach and settled ourselves near to the sand dunes which the beach backed onto. It was quite similar to Campeche, in that it was a very wide beach, the sand, a soft, thick and unbelievably silky texture, with natural sand dunes with grassy banks and a wild and powerful tide, though the water wasn’t as icy cold as Campeche had been.

Joaquina beach had those distinctive rock formations in the sea and was supposedly more beginner friendly for surfers (though today I couldn’t possibly see how), plus there were more sand dunes here, you could even do “sand dune surfing”, which intrigued me. But in Campeche, even though the sea’s had been wilder, I spotted far more dead big black “desert beetles”, the water was indescribably cold and too rough to venture into, it was much less populated and had an alluring and magical beauty that I won’t be forgetting in a hurry.

After a deliciously wonderful time sunbathing on Joaquina beach in relative peace and quiet, we ventured into the tumultus seas to feel it’s power. The best you could do in a powerful tide such as this was to attempt to jump the waves (which were pretty high). I wasn’t very good at the game because my timing was off, coupled with my bikini becoming dislodged in the wave surge causing my boobs to pop out. I really need to invest in one of these bloody Brazilian bikini’s!

I stood out as a foreigner as we were the only non Brazilians on the beach and I was wearing the tell tale signs of a European bikini. Everyone else was wearing the Brazilian style and since I was yet to find one I was stuck wearing my granny style bikini pants which I was increasingly coming to hate.

Joaquina was a much more developed beach then Jurere and especially Campeche, with a few restaurants to choose from. We ended up having lunch at a (you guessed it) “buffet establishment”, which was very dirty, with tissues all over the floor which were never picked up by the very busy staff (some of whom weren’t wearing any shoes), crumbs on mats (which again was never picked up by the staff), it was a generally disorganised and very noisy restaurant. But the food that I could see coming out looked decent, the place seemed very popular, and I really couldn’t be assed to go trawling through the beach bodies in order to find another restaurant which wasn’t likely to be any better!

We didn’t trust them enough to order anything elaborate anyway so we just ordered an omelette and chips. Not fancy but hey, I have avoided being ill thus far. I would very much like that to continue. My omelette was pretty good but Josh’s was undercooked. The chips were decent. Alas because of the state of the place and the fact that nobody in there seemed to care, I will not be returning. After another decent amount of sunbathing and jumping the waves it was time to go. Almost. There was just one more thing that we wanted to see, and do.

We found an Acai place first. We were never too far away from an Acai restaurant. The Brazilians had capitalised on this tasty fruit and now there were places all over the island serving it. We even had a tub at home which we had bought from the Supermarket and which we ate everyday without fail. It really is quite moorish and because it’s good for you, and we generally eat it with other guilt-free fruits such as mango, strawberry and banana, our thought is that we can never have too much. So we ordered some Acai bowls, and took our time and consumed them whilst we people watched. And there is always people watching to do in Brazil as the people can be very vain, lol.

Our plan was to connect to Wi-Fi whilst we were at the Acai restaurant so that we could call an Uber from there. Neither of us had our data turned on and were relying completely on Wi-Fi connection but the restaurant owner told us that she didn’t have Wi-Fi there so Josh had to turn on his data in order to call us an Uber. After trying to get one for about 20 minutes or so we finally decided to give up – there were apparently no Uber drivers available and people were now leaving the beach en masse, so we figured that they were probably trying to call Uber’s too and judging by the sheer amount of people that were there (it felt more like a festival then a casual day at the beach tbh), we decided to leave and start walking up the hill and sure enough, there was wall to wall traffic all the way up the hill leaving Joaquina.

The sand dunes that we had tried to find earlier where people could sand surf, finally came into view and it was the perfect time to watch as the sun was going down. Again I had to marvel as the exquisite texture of the sand here. I hadn’t felt sand this soft anywhere else in the world, not even in the Caribbean, and it was so clean. We walked to the top of a huge sand dune where we could see people lining up to have a go at this fun sport and watched them as the sun set. It did look fun, but I couldn’t see anyone “surfing” tbh, most people just sat on it rather then stand up and when I did see people try to stand on it and slide down they face planted in a most spectacular way, lol. Nonetheless it was hugely enjoyable to watch, and I would perhaps have had a go if there weren’t so many people watching me in earnest make a bloody fool of myself.

Once we had walked sufficiently far away from the beach we tried to call Uber again and got one straightaway. The Uber driver that arrived had a nice car which was very clean (I felt bad for putting my sandy body in it) and it smelt nice. But not even that could prevent us from sitting in the same traffic as everyone else as the whole beach decided to leave at exactly the same time. The journey back was horrendous. The roads are pretty bad as it is and these drivers don’t seem to know the meaning of driving slowly, and because of the heavy traffic it took even longer then it did to get there, and Josh had a really bad headache (brought on by the sun which was deceivingly hot I was guessing) so all the bumpy roads at high speed wasn’t great for his head.

Joaquina Beach

Jurere Beach Day

The perfect day was had a couple of steps away from our apartment.

Even though the numbers on the island have suddenly and dramatically increased, including where we are staying in Jurere, brought on by the appearance of the sun which is clearly here to stay, it is still much more chilled here then it was at Joaquina beach. There are alot more families here, and thus children, due to the sea, which is very safe for children to swim in, being both calm, and shallow not to mention clean and clear. But we still managed to find (after a very impressive scouting trip by Josh), somewhere private to set up our portable sunchairs. It was such a genius location that I had to give him his ratings – unfortunately for us once we had set ourselves down we started to see people eagle eyeing us as they walked by as if they were thinking about joining us: Go Away!

The reason why it was such a good spot was because it had the breeze from the sea, but was a little set back which afforded us privacy, aswell as being besides a trickling stream with the lake behind us which was very picturesque not to mention practical. Not many people wanted to be that far back from the sea but for us it was perfect.

Because we were a little further back we didn’t have people walking past us constantly on the search for somewhere to sunbathe and we weren’t constantly bothered by beach sellers. The sand was wide, soft and generously dispersed. From there we watched the sky turn shades of blue, pink, lilac, amber and gold.

Before we’d arrived in Floripa I had wondered whether we would tire of #beachlife but now I know that we will not as even though it stays the same it’s forever changing.

Brasil Sunsets are a beautiful thing

 

Week 3 in Florianopolis

Week 3 in Florianopolis

We still don’t know many Portuguese words but we do know Fechado. Oh yes…we have come to know Fechado very well indeed.

We have come to know Fechado intimately because we have seen it so many times as signs on the front windows and doors of restaurants, bars and shops that we go to. The opening times here are a mystery that I’m sure only the locals know as no matter how much we have tried to sync the time of our venture for food or coffee we have been at a loss as to why the sign Fechado remains.

There is one particular establishment that Josh has been eyeing since we arrived: a Creperie. The Creperie even has a menu outside the restaurant displaying their opening times for everyone to see alas every single time we have passed by there to get a crepe whether keeping within the opening times advertised or not it has been completely, and utterly FECHADO’D.

We have tried this with other restaurants in the area too, but it seems like they only open when they feel like it. The Italian restaurant was the same: Fechado, Fechado all day, everyday but then there was a Brazilian bank holiday (on a Saturday no less, I know I don’t really understand it either), and then suddenly they were open and it was packed! But since then, nada. Fechado. I’m sure they must have some kind of Brazilian communication software that Josh and I are not privvy to!

Santo Antonio De Lisboa 

Lily, the lovely Brazilian lady who works in the Supermarket told us about a place nearby that she was sure that we’d like: Santo Antonia De Lisboa. A small, colourful, quirky village with incredible sunsets from it’s marina location, she told us that there were some lovely restaurants and coffee shops there that overlooked the small beach and it sounded just up our street to we stopped off at a local cupcake cafe first before going there for the day.

Small, cobbled streets with lovely colourful little independent restaurants and and coffee shops, it immediately impressed. We decided that we would go back on a day when it was sunnier to spend some more time trawling the streets browsing the local street markets and perhaps go for dinner at the sweet looking fish restaurant overlooking the marina?

Unfortunately, I have to take back what I said about their being no creatures in Brazil.

There are.

For the past couple of days we have seen not just more of those beastly looking iguana’s, waltzing around our garden with nonchalance but last night despite our best efforts to keep our apartment scrupulously clean and tidy at all times, making sure that we leave no dirty dishes in the sink and taking any smelly food straight out to the communal bins, we encountered my worst enemy: a cockroach (or barratas as it’s called here in Brazil) reared it’s hideous head.

Now I cannot make it any clearer: I CANNOT DEAL WITH CREATURES. Call it what you will but it is simply not in me. And yes, I was gearing myself up to encounter them in abundance as soon as I arrived in Brazil and in turn I warned Josh that he would have to prepare himself for bug extermination duties, so I was more then a little surprised and relieved to find that apart from the occasional ant or fly in our apartment we never really saw any bugs at all, and certainly no cockroaches anywhere apart from the one we saw in the street when we were out and about. I mean that’s huge. No fly’s and no mosquitoes in Brazil?! – one of the most natural environments in the world and the home to the Amazon which has some of the numerous species of animals on earth? Insane.

But each time we went out we felt comfortable enough to eat outside because there were no flies about and I wasn’t wearing any insect repellent at all because there were no mosquitoes either.

But perhaps it was just the time of year? I had spoken to my sister (currently trawling through high altitude terrain in Bolivia) and she said that she hadn’t seen anything or gotten bitten either.

But this night that all changed. I don’t know where this thing came from as we keep the windows closed in the evenings (or even if it was a cockroach aka barratas), all I know is that Josh and I were sitting down about to watch something on YouTube and then it suddenly appeared in the corner of the room by the skirting board with it’s nasty, crispy looking self, but as soon as we both saw it disappeared again through a hole underneath the fixed kitchen cabinet.

There proceeded the hunt for this despicable creature to try and find it and kill it before we went to bed. Thinking of that thing crawling around our apartment really made my skin crawl and I wasn’t sure that I could sleep knowing that it was at large so Josh set about trying to spray the crack that we saw it disappear underneath with heavy duty barratas killer spray, taking everything out of the kitchen drawers so that he could spray behind it.

Unfortunately we couldn’t actually take off the cover that he’d crawled underneath but we made sure to spray the entire area and the kitchen and then some, bleached the floor and sprayed all the entrances where we thought he might of gotten in from and then Josh proceeded to use plastic bags to block up all of the gaps in the kitchen cabinet so that it couldn’t get out again. I was skeptical of this at first because I thought that if it was small enough to get in there in the firstplace then it was probably small enough to get out again but afterwards I agreed that just minimising the spaces that it could crawl from was a great idea and it meant that if it was still in there then the fumes from the spray would hopefully kill it anyway.

After hours of watching the hole to see if the beast appeared again we eventually went to bed. I was feeling pretty traumatised by the whole thing truth be told as if there is one thing that I hate it is cockroaches. I detest spiders too but something about cockroaches just makes me feel immediately nausea’s. It probably has something to do with the fact that they are usually found in nasty places so it indicates that a place is nasty if it has a cockroach infestation but we had made sure that this place was spotless. We had even paid to have the apartment cleaned the week after we’d arrived, we had no food out on the sides, no crumbs lurking for it to eat and no place for it to go so why on earth did it decide to come in here?! I hoped it was just passing through..

To put my mind at ease Josh kept the lights on in the kitchen to try and trick the buzzard into thinking that we were still there, he also blocked up the entrance to the bedroom and bathroom by using a thin towel so that if it did get out it wouldn’t be able to come into our room (my main concern), and put the plunger over the shower plug hole incase it’s buddy’s got any idea’s but either way I had a restless night. As it was the air conditioning in our apartment wasn’t great – it was old and weak and hardly blew out any cold air at all so were were pretty much sweltering in the apartment and naturally we didn’t want to open the windows for fear that creatures (if there were any) would come in.

So that night I found it hard to sleep: coupled with the shitty air con I also had a genuine fear that this thing was going to find his way into our bedroom and crawl onto our bed!

In the morning all was calm and well. There were no signs of any barratas and it was as if nothing had ever been there at all. But due to the amount of time that Josh and I had spent the night before searching for this abominable creature, coupled with my restless sleep I was now feeling pretty exhausted.

To put my mind at ease Josh called the apartment manager, who had initially laughed and said “no, no barratas!” when I asked him when we’d arrived whether there were any cockroaches in the apartment, to ask him to come and search it to make certain that it wasn’t still there. So he came, somewhat sheepishly it has to be said, before proceeding to take each drawer out of the kitchen cabinet methodically to try and see if he could find it.

When he established that he could not he cleaned the drawer thoroughly and then sprayed the whole area with 2 powerful barratas killers. If it surfaced again he said, he would come and kill it himself.

The problem with cockroaches or barratas is that they are nasty. They thrive in damp, filthy, hot areas, and I don’t want one in my clean, dry, temperature controlled apartment!

Will Cook , Can’t Cook

Unfortunate as it is to admit it, Josh and I have come to the conclusion that these people can’t cook. We have had far too many bad experiences, in too many establishments to put it down to mere coincidence. We planned to go to Lucila’s Bistro, a local restaurant which we had previously been to for coffee and pastries, excited that finally we had perhaps found somewhere decent to eat. We love to eat and were keen to experience authentic Brazilian cuisine which we were convinced would not only be delicious but would be really imaginative, colourful and well presented too with lots of vegetables and fruits that we’d never tasted before. But almost everywhere we’d been (apart from Jay’s Bistro it has to be said), has been a disappointment. Now as I said before, the Brazilians love themselves a buffet and Lucila’s Bistro has done so well in the area that they have 3 establishments: a bakery, a restaurant next door to it and another recently opened larger restaurant which served buffet. We had already been to the bakery and liked it so decided to try out the restaurant.

We arrived at the restaurant around 8:30 pm to find that despite the fact that they have a menu outside indicating that it is a “proper” restaurant, we walked in to find people gorging themselves on a buffet spread. If we’d have wanted buffet we would have gone to the BUFFET RESTAURANT, especially since it was closer to our apartment!

Alas, it turned out that they were still serving from the menu thank goodness so after some deliberation (we were still struggling a little to read the Portuguese menu’s) we both ordered the seabass. We were very much looking forward to our meal, and after our experience at 300 Cosmos who fancied themselves something rotten but clearly couldn’t cook a risotto, we were keen to get some decent grub.

And what else should you order in Brazil other then beef? Well fish and seafood of course!

So, ordered we did, only to find when it turned up that the fish was DRY AS A BONE and not anything like the succulent, FRESH seabass that we were expecting. Now I have had many a seabass in my time but I can quite honestly say that this was perhaps the worst.

I was stunned into silence looking upon these 2 anemic looking slices of fish on my plate (which I couldn’t even identify as being seabass, a first for me), so devoid of moisture or even any accompanying sauce that it wasn’t funny. And as for the salad that came with it, not even a balsamic vinegar did it have. Not to mention the rice, which was basic beyond belief. How ON EARTH can anyone produce such an uninspiring meal? – if I was working in the kitchens just the mere embarrassment of presenting this dish would prevent me. But here they were putting down this dry, pale, basic, bland, tasteless, overcooked meal in front of me with the only decorative part of the meal being the tomato which they had cut up to resemble a flower. I was wondering why if they could spend all this time making a tomato pretty which they didn’t do the same with the main event: the fish, which is afterall what we paid for!

Honestly I am baffled. They don’t seem to use seasoning in their food, okay I’m just about coming to terms with that but these terrible food combinations must come to an immediate end: chips with rice and overcooked fish. The much decorated chef of Jay’s Bistro, which has billboard advertisements all over the island, trained in Europe. Now I know that as a nation, the Brits are not known for their local cuisine, however we have at least had the foresight to get people in from all over the world to provide their tasty foodstuffs and we have such cultural diversity that the sheer abundance and quality of cuisines on offer is impressive.

Restaurateurs hoping to get British business are made fully aware that producing uninspiring, bland food simply will not do and as such we have some of the best restaurants in the world. But here in Brazil, SURELY they have access to the raw ingredients?! They certainly have the diversity of people so why are they not coming up trumps in the food department??

I need to get to the bottom of this baffling issue before I leave here!

On the way home Josh and I rounded the corner to encounter something hideous: a sparse-haired, pig looking creature lurking in the shadows. Before either of us could get a proper look at it it ran away (or should I say trotted off) out of view and went into someone’s garden. The thing was a little bigger then a cat, about the size of a dog with a long tail like a rat and a snout like a pig, but not as hairy. Just as we were discussing what it might have been we saw another, smaller one! The smaller one ran into someone’s garden too but not before we saw that it was definitely VERY pig like! Though not actually a pig..

What the hell is this place about? What, they have feral pigs here now?! Goodness gracious me!

Double Whammy

The following morning the nasty barratas that had crawled underneath our kitchen cabinet emerged out of the hole that he had crawled under (after being sprayed with a potent combination of chemicals), to die on our apartment floor. I felt very relieved to know that with the help of our apartment manager we had finally got him. Now I could relax (kind of).

Alas when we went back to our “safe” restaurant Pizza Express the following night we encountered another HUGE cockroach scurrying across the floor whilst we were eating our pizza!

Needless to say we shan’t be returning.

Beach Lovers 2.0

Florianopolis has over 42 beaches, but we won’t be visiting all of them. We have identified around10 beaches that we’d like to visit whilst we’re here in between waiting for the weather to be good enough to go (nothing worse then being rained on on a beach) and working, but finally today was the day we’d been waiting for: It was time to visit Campeche.

Campeche was about a 40 minute drive away, a beautiful, sprawling beach on the East coast of the island. We jumped in an Uber, took our towels, stereo, water and off we went for the day. We passed through the town of Barra Da Lagoa (another beach we plan to visit), and saw hints of Joaquina beach too (the one I’m supposed to be trying to surf on if I can muster up the courage!) before arriving at Campeche.

The first thing I noticed about this beach was how busy it was in comparison to Jurere, there was much more people on this beach with 2 large restaurants overlooking it, then the next thing I noticed was it’s size: It was much bigger then I was expecting, it was huge!

Wide, with a great expanse of warm, silky soft white sand, it meandered very gradually into wild aqua blue waves with great big white foamy tips. When I went to sample how cold the water was to touch I gasped: It was frightening cold! And the waves frighteningly high. This was no swimmers beach: the temperature of the water, coupled with the wild intensity of the waves dictated that, but oh was it beautiful. This water, and infact this entire beach was heart achingly, heart soaringly beautiful: the verdant green landscape in the distance, the fine white sand, the grassy dunes and the relentless, hypnotic motion of the icy cold water made me feel alive. This beach was simple raw beauty.

The sand at Campeche I can only describe as luxurious. So smooth it almost felt like a piece of fine silk, just slipping off your feet with ease, it was the colour of very light stone and at room temperature, which meant that I didn’t have to burn my feet walking on it (unlike in Bali where the sand is much darker and thus almost burnt the soles of my feet right off!). The huge beach was big enough to host all who would seek to discover her and was backed by incredibly soft sand dunes, which was magic to walk through and get lost in. Some sun lovers were atop of the dunes meditating and I couldn’t think of a better place to do so. Campeche is in a protected nature reserve which gives it it it’s natural and almost private feel.

We spent an easy day lunching, sunbathing, snoozing and gazing at this wonderful beach which I could not believe had not already been discovered many times over by curious tourists. Before going home we had an Acai bowl with strawberries, kiwi, coconut and granola on the beach. I’d like to keep this one a secret but I fear it’s too late now: the secrets already out!

Campeche Beach

Brexmas? What Brexmas?

We saw that horrible coarse haired piglet looking creature again! And this time I can confirm for definite that it was not a pig, nor a big rat, but infact a combination of the 2…a very weird looking creature who had a long tail AND a snout, looking very much little like big weasel with a snout. Bloody horrible! It isn’t scary, it’s just very very odd looking! And being so hideous looking it’s not something that I was particularly keen on encountering on my evening out dressed up in my fineries for dinner. After doing some research I can now confirm what I think it is: A Javelina or a Peccary, a mammal which is a sort of hog and although very pig like, is not actually related to the pig or according to our Brazilian friends it could be an Opussum (also known as a Gamba), which is a marsupial. Tbh I have no idea what the bloody thing is. I just know that i’ve never seen anything quite like it before and there seem to be a few in our area so we are very likely to see it again!

Is it a pig? Is it a rat?..

Marisqueira Sintra

Fast running out of suitable dining options we decided to first do some research to try and identify the top restaurants on the island as we really did not wish to be tricked again.

Marisqueira Sintra was a seafood that not only ranked highly on TripAdvisor at #14 of almost 4 thousand restaurants on the island (with consistently excellent reviews), was located in Santo Antonio De Lisboa, the colourful little village by the sea that we’d been to a few nights ago and really liked and their website looked very professional too (always a bonus). So, we were excited to have found this restaurant, convinced that finally we had found somewhere that served great food, where we could dress up and go for the night.

The restaurant didn’t have any way of us making a reservation online so we realised that we’d have to call. We crossed our fingers and hoped that whoever answered the phone could speak English (as we were certainly not advanced enough to understand beyond them responding Sim or Nao) but when they answered, I asked if they could speak any English but the man said Nao so then I knew that we were in trouble. Convinced that we were out of options if we could not get a reservation at this place we contacted our apartment manager and told him of our dilemma (we could not communicate with the staff who worked at the restaurant and we wanted to make a reservation), and kindly he offered to call them for us and make the booking. He messaged us back confirming that we had a table booked there for 9:00 pm and we thanked him and started getting ready for our big night out!

I was sure that this place with it’s great location overlooking the marina and great restaurant reviews was going to be one of those places with the kind of smart casual diners who chose this restaurant as their regular haunt. We were really looking forward to it and to be on the safe side before we’d left we’d checked out the menu so that we both had a good idea of what we were going to eat as more likely then not the menu was going to be written all in Portuguese (as you’d imagine I guess!)

When we arrived we were swiftly taken through a busy restaurant to the conservatory which looked out over the beach and the surrounding old town which was charming even at this time of the evening. The waiters seemed to know that we were English (that pesky accent had outed us again!), and we were placed on a table with one of the best views in the restaurants and then they proceeded to set about trying their best to impress, producing 2 menus with an expert flourish.

It was warm and cosy in the restaurant, the decoration tasteful with the theme being Sintra, a place in Portugal for which the restaurant was fashioned. Our waiter came over to take our order and after nodding pleasingly and saying that I’d made a fantastic choice with my selection of grilled shrimps with a creamy sauce accompanied by rice and toasted almonds, he then moved onto take Josh’s order, pointing to a dish on the menu (the most expensive on the menu no less), of a seafood platter which included shrimps aswell as other types of “freshly caught” fish, but Josh wasn’t interested.

Unbeknownst to this guy Josh had decided on what he wanted before we’d even left our apartment, but for some reason this guy wouldn’t take no for an answer. He kept on pointing at the seafood platter and telling Josh that it was fantastic, great, delicious, and even when Josh told him “Nao Gracias”, repeated the name of the dish that he wanted and pointed to it on the menu again, this guy just wouldn’t let up. I was beginning to think that it was some kind of joke, or that we, the only English in the village, were being set up, perhaps the staff thought that being English meant that we were loaded?

All the same, Josh refused to be bullied into having a dish that he did not want so he declined a third time but then the waiter just suddenly turned on his heels and went over to another table to take their order.

We both looked at each other with confusion as if to ask what went on there? Did he take our order or not? – he had left the menu with us so we really weren’t sure – but neither of us could have been more clear – I wanted the shrimp and Josh wanted the cod! It really wasn’t rocket science.

After around 10 minutes or so, between which time another waiter had brought over our starter of Whitebait Fish Calamari making me think that he had taken our full order afterall, our waiter returned again to start pointing at this seafood platter thing that he seemed so excited to promote. I was shocked that this guy who had disappeared for such a long time had now come back with the same nonsense: trying to promote this bloody dish!

Do these people get paid commission on these things now or what??

Needless to say Josh declined for a FOURTH time and was now starting to become more then a little irritated by this charade (and infact when pushed is even more unlikely to go with someone’s “suggestion”). We found the whole ordeal very odd but we were by this time so hungry that we were happy to let that go by the wayside.

Anyway, at least we had our Calamari to eat. Now this place was a seafood restaurant, located on a marina of an island with over 42 beaches, so we were expecting big things with regards to the seafood here. I was expecting the fish to be one of the freshest and tastiest I’d ever had. Alas, if the Calamari was anything to go by, the rest of the meal was unlikely to be stand out. For starters, it was too salty. Neither of us had had Whitebait fish before but we thought we’d try it as it was a fish that was native to Brazil, but the fish itself tasted far too fishy for my liking, and the batter was too salty and wasn’t crispy enough. Not a great start!

When our mains arrived I initially had higher expectations in comparison to my starter but a few mouthfuls later I was regretting having even bothered. The shrimp, though reasonably big in size was certainly not as juicy and delicious as I’ve had it in other (less seafood-centric) places. It just simply wasn’t tasty enough.

The rice was plain but had been cooked well, and having the toasted almond flakes provided good texture though again the rice had been over salted. But the worst thing was the sauce. It had been described on the website as being a “creamy” sauce which I took as being a flavoursome, creamy sauce (perhaps with a bit of spice), to go with the accompanying shrimp but instead it was more akin to a hollandaise sauce, thin and buttery and certainly not flavoursome or spicy in any way. And worse, it was warm, not hot.

In short: It tasted of butter: greasy, fatty and bloody horrible. And Josh didn’t fare any better. His cod dish which was supposed to come with an almond breadcrumb (they sure do like using the same basic ingredients!), didn’t come with any kind of coating and after his initial impression of it being okay, soon turned into horror as he realised that the fish was UNCOOKED in the middle.

What is this place about??

We looked around and saw a full restaurant with Brazilians: couples, friends, and families alike tucking into their various seafood dishes with gusto and having themselves a good ole time. There was no doubt about it: these people were ENJOYING the food.

That’s when I realised the worst: that these people simply could not cook, end of story. Their cuisine basically consists of seafood (which in our experience has NOT been fresh or tasty), filet mignon (which is the French term for a particular cut of beef (tenderloin) but that they keep bandying about trying to sound accomplished without offering any other cuts so it’s clear that they don’t even know what it is), then they have alot of sushi, probably curtesy of the very large Japanese population in Brazil (the biggest outside of Japan) , and then there’s Italian, which is basically just pizza and pasta. Bread, tomato, cheese, pasta of varying shapes and ham. End of.

This is not a varied and exciting cuisine, and based on our experiences with what they are actually supposed to be good at cooking (FRESH FISH AND SEAFOOD), it has been an absolute disaster. We have had food overcooked as was the case with our seabass in another highly rated restaurant, and now with both our shrimp and most especially the cod which was UNDERCOOKED.

What on earth is going on?!

I’d love to say that they were trying to deliberately poison us because they hate Brits or something but they genuinely seemed eager to please us, were pleased as punch that we had chosen to dine there and had the audacity of being PROUD of their food. W.T.F!

Someone needs to introduce them to some creative food ideas, help them to cultivate their own cuisine (not Italian which is Italian), use FRESH ingredients, and learn how to cook food properly (not undercook or overcook it).

Well, after hearing this you probably will be surprised to learn that after all of that we went ahead and ordered dessert. But we needed something sweet to take the sour taste from our mouths. We ordered their Portuguese Custard Tart (which is harmless by anyone’s standards), and a traditional Portuguese dessert called Baba De Camelo. Sound intriguing? – well it’s not, as when it arrived we could both immediately identify what it was the waiter, standing there with his chest puffed out with pride, was trying to give to us: A bowl of condensed milk.

No joke: the dessert was a bowl of condensed milk (you know the one you buy in Sainsbury’s and put in a pan of boiling water for a couple of hours to turn into caramel), coupled with a few sprinklings of nuts on top. Not only is that not a dessert, my Mum and Aunts use that as a topping for a much more advanced dessert: Caramel Tart, but it is also far too sweet to be one. In addition: the Portuguese Tart wasn’t nice either. We’d had a better one in the Supermarket.

Our waiter even had the audacity to ask us if we had enjoyed our meal..

What is wrong with these people???

We officially give up. If we happen to come across some decent food then we will happily eat it but after that last experience at one of their supposedly top johnny restaurants, we are both resigning ourselves to the fact that these people can’t cook. It pains me to say but it is true.

Beach Body Ready?

So, do the Brazilians live up to the hype? Are they really as #beachbodyready as everyone says? – put shortly yes, they are.

Brazilians, though they certainly can be vain and there is alot more fake boobs and bums here then I was expecting, there’s no contest really in the looks department, they really are a very goodlooking nation of people. For starters, they’re tanned. Even the Brazilians with the more European features have tanned skin so they don’t look anemic or malnourished, they have a nice healthy glow.

Secondly, they have great bodies. Even the granny’s and grandad’s have a good physique, though not necessarily all slim, they are nonetheless curvaceous in all the right places most appropriately in the bum region where they fluent it with an ease that I’m most envious of (we sure are prudish in the UK!), and then lastly but not least, they are confident. They seem to have no body hangups and carry their confidence and sensuality around with them like a familiar coat. Most of the women strut around on the beach wearing a Brazilian bikini: women of all ages not just the younger ones, and they look far better then the women on any English beach I’ve ever seen.

If I can return to blighty looking even a percentage more Brazilian then I did when I arrived then I will be very happy!

Josh and I on Campeche Beach

 

 

 

Week 2 on “The Magic Island” Floripa, Brazil

Week 2 on “The Magic Island” Floripa, Brazil

Doo Doo Beach

Josh thought that it would be a good idea for us to visit a neighboring beach: Canasvieiras.

On the map it looked as though it was a mere 10 -20 minute walk away but it turned out to be much further and complicated to get to then we initially thought due to the fact that there was some building works going on on parts of the beach which prevented us from accessing it. We had to walk all the way around the beach, on the way passing through the local heavily gated neighborhood to get there.

There was definitely something up with Brazilians and dogs, and Brazilians and heavy gates, even electric ones. From what I had seen in the short space of time since we’d arrived, they seemed to be obsessed with security and protecting their homes from invasion. This was a little surprising considering the area we were in. Jurere was supposedly one of the safest neighborhoods in the whole of Brazil to live yet these people had gates up the wazoo! What on earth were they expecting to happen, a zombie invasion? gang warfare? – or perhaps it was just a cultural thing. Many of the people living here were moneyed and came from the surrounding big cities, so perhaps they were so used to protecting their homes from criminal activity that it came as second nature to do for their second (very expensive) homes. Either way, I could definitely see a business opportunity here: Security Gates R US?! Just a thought.

Walking through the local area made me realise how happy I was that we were staying where we were and that we weren’t staying here. This place not only felt like it was vacant with no other soul about giving it a distinctly eerie vibe, but the streets and houses that were on them were definitely not as nice, even a little rundown in places. I wasn’t entirely sure why Josh thought that it would be a good idea to go to this local beach but so far I wasn’t very impressed with what I was seeing. I hoped I was going to be pleasantly surprised when we got there.

After walking a little further up a very steep hill with many gated houses with barking dogs warning us not to come along closer, finally we arrived at Canasvieiras beach. It was much wider then ours and looked like it was more developed with hotels, restaurants and bars lining the beachfront, but it was also much busier, particularly with beach sellers and families, many who it looked like were going to be there for the entire day bringing their own beach chairs, parasols, drinks, food and even games to play. But asides from it being busy, it also just wasn’t as nice as Jurere beach. It was quite scruffy looking truth be told, and definitely didn’t have the same laid back charm.

After fending off a few people trying to sell their wares to us (even their beach sellers were more aggressive here!), we decided that as we were here we should at least get a bit of sunbathing in. Contrary to popular belief we hadn’t been sunbathing everyday since we’d arrived, but most days to be fair, lol. Well, one has to make good use of ones surroundings doesn’t one? 🙂

The manager of our apartment had given us some of these ingenious beach chairs which were small and compact enough to carry but which you could also use to fully lay down and sunbathe on but because of the distance to get this beach we had just brought our beach blankets.

Eventually we found a beach body free area and put our blankets down. We’d carried our Bluetooth stereo with us that we could listen to some tunes whilst we were sunbathing but it was far too noisy so we decided not to bother. Even though once you closed your eyes most beaches were exactly the same, and burying your feet in the sand was lovely on these Brazilian beaches as all seemed to have luxuriously soft, cool to the touch, fine sand, for some reason I just couldn’t get comfortable there.

Since leaving Rio we had still been being vigilant with our personal belongings, making sure that we either left them in our apartment or locked them away out of sight in the pocket of our beach blankets but for some reason it felt much safer in Jurere then here in Canasvieiras. Whether it was because of the number of people on the beach, because there were groups of youths lurking on the sidelines, due to the fact that it seemed much scruffier here or a combination of these factors, I felt as though my personal belongings were more at risk here. And I definitely didn’t want to leave them to go for a swim. Infact, I wasn’t in the least bit inspired to go swimming in the sea here at all. In short: I wasn’t feeling it.

Josh on the other hand had his own problems..

After less then 10 minutes of laying down on our blankets he started complaining that he could smell something unsavoury. He said it smelt like doo doo. Now true, there were lots of dogs on this beach. The Brazilians love themselves a dog and we often saw 1 or 2 running around on the beach in Jurere, but our beach was much cleaner then this one so it wouldn’t have surprised me if these people allowed their dogs to poo on the beach and they didn’t bother picking it up. Alas I couldn’t smell anything myself apart from the strong musty scent of smoked corn that the beach sellers came by wafting about in the air. As the minutes ticked by Josh began to get more and more unsettled. He was now convinced that he could smell shit and he was determined to find out where it was coming from but after looking around and seeing nothing he finally agreed to surrender and admit that this particular beach trip had been a bit a disaster. It was time to move somewhere else.

He picked up his blanket from the sand and began to shake it off before suddenly noticing that it had a huge pile of DOO DOO on it. Josh had been laying in dog shit!

He was understandably repulsed, visibly on the verge of vomiting and he proceeded to use every explicit word under the sun to express his revulsion. After washing the blanket thoroughly in the salty sea he returned to announce that we were leaving this beach never to return.

I couldn’t agree more!

Acai Wars

Acai (pronounced a-sigh-ee) is a big thing here in Brazil. A fruit cultivated from the acai palm tree that grows in the Amazon, it’s considered to be a superfood here and in the surrounding South American countries where it’s grown due to it’s many health benefits and it’s insta-worthyness, due to it’s distinctive dark purple hue. Usually served as a smoothie or as an acai bowl and topped with nuts, banana, honey and other fruits there are lots of restaurants popping up around here toting their credentials as an Acai seller including our local Brasil Berry who are using that as there USP. However within a week of arriving we have seen other coffee shops in the area start to also advertise their Acai credentials and as a result Brasil Berry has made an even more obvious sign to let people know that infact THEY are the Acai Aficionado’s. Acai drama ensues in this sleepy Brazilian town!

It probably comes as no surprise due to the geography of such a place but there are so many beautiful birds here. Cute songbirds in rainbow colours, wood peckers, seagulls, eagles, and many that I’ve never seen before in my life. Should you be a birdwatcher I would imagine that it doesn’t get much better then birdwatching here in Brazil.

I am not a strong swimmer. I think it has something to do with my genetics (my skinfolk are generally not very strong swimmers probably more due to hair vanity then anything else) but also because I don’t float very well. When I went for a scuba diving lesson (in a swimming pool you understand?!) with my friend Maria, I found it very easy to do (and scary but enjoyable), and I sunk easily wheras she, despite being heavier then me found it almost impossible to sink. Even when they put weights on her waist so that she could sink she still found it difficult, and when I enquired as to why that was they told me that people were different. Some people were more sinkable then others.

Well, I’m definitely one of them! I’m sure my swimming technique isn’t fantastic but I do enjoy swimming and I especially enjoy swimming in the sea (when it’s relatively calm, clear and with minimal seaweed), alas I have noticed that I seem to run out of breath much easier then Josh when swimming (whose a pretty good swimmer) and his posture is such that he seems to float easily. I on the other hand, do not.

But here on the beach in Jurere, I can float for days! Why there you ask? Well it’s because the seawater is extremely salty!! It is perhaps the saltiest sea that I have encountered. Tis very enjoyable swimming here because of this fact, coupled with the fact that it’s not too deep when you first get in, it’s clean (though not entirely clear as it’s been stormy on occasion which has churned up the sea a little), and there’s not many people swimming in the sea. People here prefer sunbathing on the beach and if they do go into the sea then it’s not always for swimming purposes, they just dip in to cool down and they LOVE to pose and will have their friends filming them from the beach whilst they writhe about in the surf to get that insta-good pic.

The Storm

The weather had been changing from being really hot one minute, to being overcrowded to having short bursts of rain but nothing to get too worried about. But tonight was different.

The first thing we noticed was the sky darkening to a deep purpley-blue. Then all hell broke loose. Up until now all we could hear was the gentle sound of the sea lapping against the shore everyday. We heard it when we went to bed at night and then first thing in the morning. It was a gentle, hypnotic, alluring sound. But tonight the winds had picked up and then suddenly I couldn’t hear the waves anymore. All I could hear was wind, a furious wind that howled and screamed, battering against our suddenly very fragile looking window panes.

The palm trees lining the beach I could see were getting a bit of a battering too as the winds forced them to bend over to within an inch of their lives as they struggled to stay upright. I was infinity grateful that I was in the comfort of my apartment whilst this storm raged on around me but as it got more and more intense, and I started to hear our windows getting more and more battered, rattling around angrily in their sockets I started to become more concerned and I asked Josh: will we survive this storm?!

The wind howled, whistled, and shook the very life out of the island. We could hear the bins in the streets falling over and rolling down the road, tree branches whipping about violently, dogs barking repeatedly. Being on the beachfront we were also getting the winds coming directly off the sea, and judging by the state of the wall outside our property it looked as though the winds had already won the battle as the wall was completely destroyed, crumbled to mush.

I was wondering whether these apartments that we were in were built to survive such an onslaught. Certainly from the sound of the wind it was as if the wind man had come a knocking on the door to get in and was getting more and more aggressive and persistent as time went on. I couldn’t relax, imagining the worst: our windows being blasted out of their sockets bringing in the most furious storm either of us had ever experienced tossing us out into the night sky.

And who would we call to be saved? Would we have to beat a hasty retreat to the rooftop for protection? Was the storm intense enough to cause the sea to rise? – because from where I was sitting it certainly sounded like a tsunami out there! Mother Nature was going WILD. If there was anyone still out there I felt sorry for them. The only thing that could protect a person from a storm like this was bricks and mortar.

The rain intensified, lashing down against the window pane and I thought for the first time since arriving that if it was a choice between perishing in a Brazilian storm or being safe in my central heated London home I’d take the latter thanks as I was determined to survive this trip thank you very much.

The noise was becoming more and more unbearable so I retreated to the bedroom and hunkered down on the floor hoping that if the windows did blow in then I would be largely protected by the wardrobe. Such was the strength of the wind I was conjuring up all kinds of escape plans including leaving our apartment to go into the stairwell where the windows were much smaller. The rain gradually lessened over the course of the evening and by bedtime all we could hear was the occasional moany wind gusts. After laying in bed listening to the storm for a couple of hours I was too tired to fight the exhaustion any longer and my eyes eventually closed.

Reluctant Celebs 

We were becoming somewhat of a celebrity couple in our area. Not only had we been befriended by the 2 women in the local coffee shop but we also had a young waiter who was originally from Sao Paulo on our case whenever we went into his restaurant to work for a few hours. The last time we went in there he cornered us with a 20 minute long conversation (whilst we were trying to work) in his extremely limited, broken English, to tell us how much he loved us and how happy he was to have met us (basically). He said that he had been studying English but had never met an actual English person in order to practice what he had learned so he was absolutely elated to be able to have a conversation with us (and let’s face it that was the only language of conversation that we were actually capable of having anyway!), and said how nice we both were and that he really wanted to learn how to speak English fluently so that he could eventually work on a cruise. Needless to say we didn’t have much to say whilst he was giving us his whole life story, we simply listened. He also told us about life in Sao Paulo. He had only been in Floripa for 2 months and really liked it though he admitted to us that the people weren’t as friendly or as chatty as the people in his home town, but he said that it was very safe in Florianopolis compared to Sao Paulo where he said people got robbed allday everyday. According to him, you couldn’t walk around with your purse or phone in plain sight. He mentioned the word “criminals” and “big city” a few times so I got the sense that it wasn’t necessarily somewhere that we would be rushing to go in a hurry!

 Cappacino Brasileiro

The Brazilians have their own take on a Cappacino and it’s not anything like what you are thinking. We had recently learned after being baffled about receiving a “Hot Chocolate” everytime we ordered a Cappacino that in order to get the Cappacino like the version we’re used to having all over Europe (and what I thought was universal), we needed to ask for a Cappacino Italiano as if you just said Cappacino then they would bring you their Cappacino Brasiliero, which is basically a Hot Chocolate made with Cinnamon. It doesn’t have coffee in it at all.

We’re not here to tick things off a bucket list. We’re here (our first time in South America!) to experience what it is to live in Brazil, in this environment that is both natural as it is beautiful, to get to know the people and their way of life as much as we can and see some things along the way. We’re also here to work, not work that is taxing by any means, or that is structured, we’re very much just going with the flow here, working on the days when we feel like it and from wherever we feel like being. We’ve been here for 2 weeks now I’m easing into this new life gradually. I guess I haven’t quite come to terms with the fact that I’ve left work permanently and this is my life now, it still feels just like a long holiday. But I don’t believe that you can feel the soul of a place unless you get to know it, and just taking pictures of it doesn’t sum it up for me. So please forgive me if I don’t document everything in visuals, sometimes words are a more powerful tool for the imagination!

Centro

Centro is the Historic Centre of Florianopolis, the busy part of town where people go to shop til they drop, check out all of the lively bars and restaurants and the open market which was historically used to host a market selling everything from fish and seafood, to caipirinha’s #caipirinhaaday clothes and arts and crafts. We jumped in an Uber and after sitting in surprisingly heavy traffic for about 20 minutes we finally arrived at Centro to be greeted by with lots of noise, lots of cars and even more people. It was very different but exciting too!

I had already done a little research on Centro so I wasn’t expecting to be massively impressed with the area but I still felt that it would be a bit of a disappointment if we came to the island of Floripa and didn’t experience the main part of the city and also, I knew that Floripa wasn’t all just stunning beaches, fake boobs (oh yes, there’s a lot of that here), small fluffy dogs and acai bowls!

I was particularly interested in seeing some of the beautiful old Portuguese style architecture, get a real feel for the place and people and perhaps sit under the famous fig tree that has been there for 140 years. The tree is so beloved of the city that it actually has a nickname: “Figueira”

What struck me after noticing that it immediately felt like another busy city was the fact that all of the stunning greenery that had followed us all the way from Jurere to here was suddenly gone, and in it’s place was lots of buildings and people. The Uber driver had dropped us off at the shopping centre, not the market which is where we wanted to go but since we were just being tourists and having a look around the city we figured we’d find our own way there by foot so after a short time spent in the mall which looked and smelt like every other mall in the world and so was not particularly inspiring we set off to find the main part of Centro.

We had chosen this particular day to do the touristy thing because it was overcast and a little cooler. The thought of trundling about in 30 degree heat in the city centre did not appeal in the slightest but even this was hard going as the roads to the centre were surprisingly hilly. I was noticing that people in Brazil loved their fitness. If they weren’t cycling then they were jogging and if they weren’t doing any of those things then they were still wearing fitness clothes as though they had either come from or were going to do some kind of fitness activity. I couldn’t say that the people here looked better then those in Rio, and they certainly didn’t look as good as the people living in Jurere, but I think that was mainly because of the demographic of people that lived there.

There were a few interesting looking independent shops and restaurants, though we didn’t go into any of them but we did stop at Floripa’s famous speciality coffee shop The Lighthouse Cafe, which we’d actually heard about on a German gay couples travel vlog the night before. The barista at The Lighthouse Cafe was really friendly and could speak English very well. Like many other people he was intrigued to find out that we were from England and asked us where we’d heard of the coffee shop so we showed him the video. Not only do they serve a very impressive array of coffee at The Lighthouse Cafe but they also make and package their own coffee on site so it’s a very cool place. I especially liked the decor.

The Lighthouse Cafe

 

The closer we got to the centre the independent shops petered out and a much less modern, dirtier and rundown shopping area came into view. We made a beeline for the Public Market, which was located in a large airy yellow building with huge arches in the hope that we would not only get some reprieve from the many sellers trying to sell us things on the street but perhaps find something interesting to buy as a momento of our trip.

But instead all we found was a labyrinth of cheap tatt. And unfortunately for us these people were a little more astute to whether we were native Brazilians and they seemed to target us even more as they knew that we were not. The Open Market did have a few bars and restaurants but none that looked particularly appealing and the other arts and crafts shops just reminded me of Deptford Market tbh (not a good look). So we went back outside to face the music.

But, it smelt. Of cheese, socks and of decaying food. The smell was vile. My nose was unable to deal with such an intense pong so we were forced to leave the area. But no matter where we went the same street sellers trying in earnest to sell us their dull wares and the same identical looking shops selling cheap tatt persisted. The whole area was full of them! After awhile the streets began to merge into one and I felt as though I was stuck in some kind of a hellish maze of smelly shops that I would never ever leave. I needed to leave!

We made our way to the only bit of nature in the city: the illustrious fig tree. And it was illustrious indeed. This gigantic tree rose up with majesty and grace daring us not to be impressed by his magnificent splendour. Stretching his green leafy branches out far over our heads and everyone else’s he provided an impressive beauty but also some shade and cool from the now intense mid day sun. We stayed there awhile talking and people watching feeling very relaxed. It seemed as though this was the place to be as alot of the locals were drawn to this leafy park too, but it had to be said, the people in this city were looking more then a little bit bedraggled and worse for wear. There was certainly nothing glamorous about the people here.

Afterwards we made our way to the Open Market again via the shops where I was convinced that I must at least be able to find a beach bag as my beach bag that I got from Paris the year before had suddenly broken. I mean that’s what Brazilians are known for isn’t it: Beaches! I was also fed up of looking like the only tourist on the beach since all women, irrespective of their age wore Brazilian bikini’s to the beach, they did not wear the European modesty styles which basically was all I had so I was keen to get myself a Brazilian bikini to fit in with the locals! But all of the shops were horrible, all of the things they were selling looked dated and cheap and nasty and I simply did not believe judging by what I was seeing, that I was suddenly going to come upon some beautiful wares worthy of purchasement. So we made our way back to the Open Market. Our plan was to go there and have some caipirinha’s and then make our way home. This was a failed mission. I was glad that we had gone but it was nothing to write home about!

Reluctantly we had to admit that this place just wasn’t for us. When we arrived at the market people were baying to get us to go into their store but we eventually settled on a bar/restaurant in the main hall. The hall area was huge but it looked like they were having a pretty slow day as there was hardly anyone in there and there was seating in there for hundreds. We didn’t plan to stay long so we walked into the bar to the side of the restaurant with the intention of ordering our drinks from there but we were both hit in the face at the exactly same time with an intense fishy pong so strong that we could almost see the fishy radiation in the air waves. We left the bar as quickly as our legs would carry us. The caipirinha’s for the record, were not very nice. I was trying to be different by ordering a strawberry caipirinha (which I actually thought would be mango as I still hadn’t learnt all of the words for the various fruits), but when it turned up it tasted horrible and was far too bitter so I swapped mine with Josh’s 🙂

We were pretty happy to leave there tbh.

Btw, these people love their beef you know. Even when I ordered a mushroom risotto they brought me a risotto (not mushroom), with beef! (shaking head)

We’ve yet to work out the way of life here. Shops and the beach bars seem to have weird opening times, some not opening on the days that they say they are, some not opening yet at all, some being empty when you think that they are going to be packed. And of course it doesn’t help that our language skills are pretty poor to say the least and they are not used to greeting foreigners here as most people are Brazilian. Most people here do not speak any English at all, and only a few have a very basic command of English. The younger generation here seem to have more language skills but they are not the ones that we are generally having to converse with when we want information on something or are trying to book a table somewhere. And people love to talk! Even when we think we have done good by memorising a phrase (such as asking for WIFI for instance), they reply with some long and complicated answer in Portuguese rather then just giving us what we want: a simple yes or no! And Uber drivers! Don’t get me started with Uber drivers. The benefit of using Uber in foreign countries is that you don’t actually have to converse with them, where you’re being picked up from and where you’re going is put into the system BUT here in Brazil these Uber drivers like to talk! Rather then just coming to the location that you have indicated on the map they will actually try and TEXT OR CALL you asking you things in Portuguese and needless to say we don’t understand a word of what they’re saying!

I can say that for sure that it was much easier to get around when we were in Thailand and Bali as at least they do get alot of international tourism. But on the other hand of course I feel guilty that I don’t know more Portuguese as I really wish that I converse with them in their own language, but from the little I’ve heard of it, it’s not an easy language to learn.

We found a co-working space near our apartment that opened today so the plan is to go there to work for a few hours during the week. It will be better as the other places that we regularly go we end up getting into the long conversations with the people who work there which is nice but it can be a little distracting when you’re trying to work.

We decided that rather then buying a #caipirinhaaday we will just make our own from now on so we bought the stuff and made our very first caipirinha’s yesterday. it was super easy to make and even more delicious to drink since we can control the ingredients ratio’s. And of course much cheaper! 🙂