The last thing I saw before going to sleep the night we arrived was a homeless guy playing football with an empty can in the middle of a deserted street. “Good skills!” I thought, observing him from the hotel room on the tenth floor overlooking the centro of Florianópolis.
Again, we had stepped onto a new movie set. Brazil, this time. I have to “obrigada” people again, we need to remember that businesses close early, that you buy essential at the ubiquitous gas stations instead of heading to the convenience store, the Brazilian cities are hilly… information that we know but forgot while in Chile and Argentina.
Florianópolis is the main city on the Ilha de Santa Catarina, a picturesque island featuring many beaches and green hills. It’s huge, though, so to get around, we rented a car. We visited Florianópolis once in 2009 but I had zero memories of it. I could picture the two beaches we went to, I kind of remembered the hotel room and I know we went to see The Watchmen. The city? No memory. Weird. I usually remember places very well.
We arrived after the Carnival but the island still felt crowded and we were stuck in several traffic jams. Walking along the waterfront, we stumbled upon a huge parking lot with the discarded floats. “It’s sad, they are broken,” Mark noted. Indeed, it did feel a bit sad to see so much work put into costumes and giant floats go to waste. I don’t know if they recycle and reuse part of them year after year. I hope so.
After a day at the beach, we came back to the hotel and realized that we had no water. I took the elevator back to the reception and learned that indeed, there was no water. I wasn’t the only one complaining—after the beach, everybody needs a rinse. “Is it going to be fixed tonight?” “You have to be patient.”
We waited a couple of hours and at 11 p.m. I marched back to the reception with Feng and Mark in tow. “Where can we go to take a freaking shower?” I demanded. The hotel eventually sent us to another hotel nearby that had a swimming pool and showers. I sighed with relief. We grabbed soap, shampoo and towels and walked to the hotel. “See Mark? It’s just an adventure! We are going to take a shower somewhere else because ours is broken.”
We took the elevator to the rooftop swimming pool… and that’s where I realized that there was one single shower on the terrace, i.e. just a shower head but no walls and no privacy. In my mind, I had pictured a shower cabin, like in gym clubs. “Everything okay?” Feng asked. “Yeah… no. I didn’t know it was this kind of shower. I only have my bikini bottom on me, not the top!”
So I showered in front of everyone topless. “Sou francesa. É cultural,” I shrugged. Good thing I’m not super modest. But I really needed a shower (even a cold one) and after all, we all spend the day parading butt naked. Showing nipples isn’t that offensive, is it! The second day, we had water at the hotel but only cold water. And a bunch of stuff didn’t work. Florianópolis can be frustrating this way. It’s a popular destination in Brazil and you’d think people speak (or understand) some Spanish or English but they don’t, and they speak fast in top of that. You’d think that hotels have higher standards but they don’t. Oh well. We came for the beaches anyway.
Florianópolis centro isn’t very exciting. There are a couple of pedestrian streets, praças that are mostly used by homeless people (and there are many homeless people around) and businesses that are closed most of the time. The walk along the waterfront is nice, though, and again… we came for the beaches!