We crossed over into Brazil shortly after leaving Puerto Iguazu, but the we had already felt the impacts of the Reai (Brazilian currency) before we boarded the bus, as the bus ride overnight to Florianopolis cost about $90 AUD each. Getting from Puerto Iguazu to Foz do Iguazu (the town on the Brazilian side of the Falls) to catch our bus to Florianopolis was a bit of a challenge. The bus between Puerto Iguazu and Foz do Iguazu just dumps you at the border between Argentina and Brazil and expect you to work out which building you need to get all the passport stamps at etc… Luckily Em had been very diligent and read that we needed to get some piece of paper filled out at the Brazilian border or we would be fined $70 USD on exit, good one Emily. We ended up splitting a taxi from the border to Foz do Iguazu bus terminal with another Gentleman and we got to the bus in time to exit by 7pm to Florianopolis.
We arrived into Florianopolis, which is a substantial sized city on the coast of Brazil. The city of Florianopolis spills over from the mainland to an island, accessible by a big bridge, called Ilha de Santa Catarina. I would be more accurate to say that we stay at Campeche on Ilha de Santa Catarina, rather than Florianopolis, but I will not fuss. After arriving in Florianopolis Centro (the centre) we rather easily navigated the complex and ineffective bus system on Ilha de Santa Catarina and arrived at our Pousada at Campeche Beach without mishap.
By sheer luck we had booked a Pousada at a really pretty little beach that was far quieter than the busy beaches on the northern half of the island. Which was fortunate, because as it happened, the four days we were on Ilha de Santa Catarina, Brazil had a public holiday weekend and the weather was forecast to be clear and toasty-warm, so many Brazilians had jumped in the car and ventured down for a long weekend on Ilha de Santa Catarina. This meant the beaches on the busier northern half of the island were crowded and the southern beaches had enough life and entertainment to give Em and I an insight into the Brazilian beach life.
Pousada Tullipane (Tulip Guesthouse) was where we stayed for our stay at Florianopolis; originally we thought we would just stay for a couple of days as it was a bit pricey but after meeting the owners of the Guesthouse and sampling the beach we just had to stay a little longer. We stayed for 4 nights and loved every minute lapping up the sun on the beach and exploring the island.
The first couple of days we spent much of our time lazing around on the beach bed. On the second day we naively thought that the sun didn't have much sting in it. We got burnt, to such an extent that peeling was inevitable. I was fortunate enough to get sunburnt with sunglasses on, so I felt like such a jerk with my white eyes and rosy red face. What a tool!
Getting around on Ilha de Santa Catarina was proving a little more difficult than Argentina and Chile, because the national language in Brazil is Portuguese, not Spanish. Travelling is a little more uncomfortable when you don't know how to ask for directions or how much something costs. Why did the all-conquering Spanish tolerate the Portuguese infidels I wonder?
On a brighter note, Brazil has better beer than Argentina and Chile, and they serve it icy cold. It is not unusual to order a beer and get a thickly frosted bottle, occasionally the beer is so close to frozen that it is a viscous icy mush. Another popular drink in Brazil is the Caprahina, which is lime, sugar and ice drink that is served with a very healthy lug of Cachaco, sugar cane spirit. Em has taken to these drinks favourably, although after one, she, at times, can get little excited about how cheap they are, and starts pondering a second in quick succession. They are easily enjoyed on a still and warm Brazilian evening.
Our four days on Ilha de Santa Catarina involved:
- A lot of reading on the beach
- Lunches were you pay by the kilo of food consumed
- Watching 'Melissa P' on projector (a disturbing film that isn't for the faint hearted)
- Battling the rather rough ocean that was prone to a violent undertow and dumping waves
- Seeing the island via a mini Fiat with our Italian/Austrian friend Werner
- Buying oysters for 5R a dozen ($3 AUD)
- Enjoying the home cooked breakfast at our Pousada
- Getting a free chocolate pizza from the restaurant waiter, who quite clearly had a crush on Em
One special afternoon/evening that deserves more than a dot point was the ride to Riberao da Ilha, it was recommended to us as a great place to watch the sun go down and enjoy a few of Ilha de Santa Catarina's massive oysters. In our usual tardiness we left a little late after a problem with a flat tyre on my bike. But once mended, Em and I had a task ahead of us to ride the 15 Km all the while racing to get to the coast in time to catch what was looking like a promising sunset. We peddled our guts out for an hour or so and got to the coast in time. We watch the sun set down over the mountains across the bay on the mainland; it was one of those sunsets with bright oranges, deep blues and wisps of purple and pink. The brilliant sunset display was an excellent accompaniment to the dozen natural oysters which we consumed, an excellent evening. The ride back was a little precarious riding in the dark over a cobblestone road that was pothole ridden, still we made it back to the guesthouse in tact.
Five marvellous days, four marvellous nights later and we were on the road again to Rio de Janeiro, the home of Carnival and the 'Girl from Ipanema'.