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.
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.
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.
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