So Florianopolis (or Floripa as the locals like to say!) did live up to its reputation - a fun island full of lots of beautiful, stylish Brazilians! I also arrived to find the Swedish tigers staying in the same hostel as me which was a nice surprise and we have since spent the last two weeks travelling together.
I went to some lovely beaches around Floripa including Joaquina where there are lots of huge sand dunes. It was here I tried out sand-boarding! I had a sit down board to zoom down the dunes on but also borrowed someones stand up board and managed to make it down without falling over till the end (there is video evidence!)
We celebrated Linus' birthday (one of the swedes) by going to probably the swankiest, most expensive club I've ever been to - Confraria. I was told at the hostel there was no way I would get in wearing flip flops (silly me for not packing my heels in my backpack eh?!) but somehow me and my trusty havaianas managed to be sneaked in unnoticed. I did feel slightly under dressed though amongst the posh dresses, killer heels, champagne and chandeliers! We all had a great time though and danced the night away to some good electro music.
I went go-karting for the first time in my life which was quite scary but good fun. I managed to do that in flip flops too although I feel they did hinder my performance slightly! The Swedes managed to do about 16 laps in 15 minutes whereas I think I managed about 6!
From there we got an overnight bus to Foz do Iguacu and stayed in a really cool hostel called Favela Chic (the main highlight being the fried breakfast we got every morning cooked by the English owner)! We visited the Iguacu Falls from both the Brazilian and Argentinian side - two very different views of the waterfalls.
The first signs we saw on the Brazilian side were warnings about quotis - cute racoon like animals (don't be fooled) that like stealing tourists food and biting people and they carry rabies. Well, to say there were hundreds is probably an understatement so as you can imagine, I spent a lot of the time squealing and running away from the little w***s! Walking (running!) along the trail on the Brazilian side, you could hear the waterfalls before you could see them, as well as excited screams from below in boats being taken under the falls and then suddenly we got our first glimpse of them. It really is an amazing sight to see all the waterfalls from afar. We also went to the Garganta do Diablo (the Devil's Throat) where there's a platform you can walk to and be right infront of one of the waterfalls - it was so noisy you had to shout and we got very wet!
For me the Argentinian side was better, even more breathtaking (and a lot less quotis!). The perfect view of the waterfalls against the blue sky, lush green plants all around, the calm lake below and beautiful rainbows. The Devil's Throat from that side was even more incredible too. The force of the water pounding down is immense and you can feel the power and the sound in your chest. Then we donned a life jacket and boarded a boat only to discover we were the only people not wearing macs. It was a bumpy ride and the boat actually took us right under the waterfall! It was scary and fun at the same time, everyone was laughing and screaming and you could hardly see or hear anything because there was so much water. Needless to say, we were absolutley drenched but a definite highlight!
We also popped over to Paraguay for the day to Ciudad del Este, a crazy busy shopping area with countless department stores, shopping centres and street stalls. Everything is so cheap there and we couldn't get over how much lunch we got for the equivalent of about two pounds!
From Foz we got another overnight bus to Campo Grande and headed straight to the Pantanal where we spent four days in the middle of nowhere in a beautiful pousada surrounded by 1,400 hectares of land and lots of amazing wildlife. In the pousada alone there were blue and yellow macaws, toucans and parrots flying about. We went on a boat trip and jeep safari where we saw lots of caiman, giant otters, monkeys, capybara (think giant guinea pig with webbed feet) and nearly ran over an armadillo! We also went horse riding but my favourite activity was piranha fishing. We were standing on the riverbed with caimans right next to us! I managed to catch three yellow bellied piranhas and back at the pousada our guide showed us how to de-scale them (which I had a go at) and how to remove the insides (which I left to the boys).
Then we travelled a couple of hours away to Bonito where there are lots of lime stone rivers and lakes. We hired bikes and cycled 7km to the nearest river called Balneiro Municipal. It was crystal clear water and we snorkelled along it amongst hundreds of fish. It was my job to go back to get some fish food and as I was carefully getting back into the river, one hand in the air not wanting to get the paper bag wet, I slipped and fell right in. As I was laughing, slightly panicking, trying to tread water and stay afloat with my snorkel all skew-whiff, loads of fish starting jumping at me trying to get the food out of my hand. Once everyone eventually stopped laughing, they did come to rescue me and the fish food but as you can imagine, it was quite a sight!
So I am now back in Campo Grande after saying a sad goodbye to the Swedish tigers as they are off to Argentina and I'm heading north. Just waiting for a 5.30am taxi to the airport. Next stop, Natal...
Lots of love,