It took me a few days to get into the mood. After two fun metropolis that I love—Santiago and Buenos Aires—I felt a bit trapped in Ilha de Santa Catarina. I mourned the museums, the long streets with sidewalks and all the cool barrios to explore, the practical transportation systems and the many late-night options. The city of Florianópolis where we stay isn’t too exciting. There isn’t much to see and the narrow and hilly streets are hard to navigate. I don’t like to rely on a car to get around, it reminds me of Canada and I don’t feel as free, plus traffic jams are horrendous around the island. Businesses here close early—on Saturday, most started to lock their door around noon and they don’t open at all on Sunday. I’m sure it’s great for employees, better life/work balance and all—frankly, I wouldn’t like to work the night shift in one of the pizza joints on Corrientes in Buenos Aires—but it’s pretty inconvenient for travelers like us. Night life in Floripa is… ahem, unique. On one side of the city, you have homeless folks roaming around, looking for food or just building a shelter for the night. On the other side, prostitutes wait around at the semáforos and take clients to one of the many bars or brothels on the second floor of unmarked buildings.
And here I am, walking around at midnight, looking for a gas station where I can get a snack because everything is closed and I didn’t have a chance to eat or shop earlier.
But Feng really loved the island when we visited in 2009 and he was looking forward to staying there and exploring. This is his Santiago. I had to enjoy Floripa as well. I did: Praia Mole and Praia do Moçambique were awesome spots.
But I think I truly started to get into the mood in Canasvieiras. At the North of the island, this is an actual town, not just one street with vendors selling beer. Sure, it’s a bit tacky with many souvenirs shops (sandals! Bikinis! T-shirts! Key chains!) but at least supermarkets were open and there were people around.
Actually, there was quite a crowd. “Ah!” I thought. “This is where everybody goes!”
The beach was packed. Every centimeter of the narrow strip of sand was occupied. It could have been awful, but it felt awesome because of the great atmosphere. Between beach bums, many vendors were walking around, pushing heavy carts—a mobile bar, beach towels, racks full of bikinis, giant pots with corn boiling, churros, beach toys… Again, it could have been annoying but that day, it was just fun to watch the parade. If Santiago is a giant open-air market, Brazilian beaches are a huge food and drink market.
The water was warm and shallow and I took Mark for a swim, far far into the water. Then I walked the beach until dark clouds caught up with us.
“I’m all wet with the rain!” Mark complained.
“But you were already wet with the sea water, anyway.”
“I want the sun!”
I’d rather have a sunny day too but we were about to leave and go hunt for food anyway. A bit of rain doesn’t matter when it’s close to 40ºC and the light was interesting.
More beaches to see, more of Brazil to see. I’m getting into the mood now.