If I’m at one end of a beach, I must walk to the other. I’m weird, I know.
Our first beach in Florianópolis was Praia Campeche, a nice five-kilometre-long stretch of sand. I put sunscreen on Feng’s back, gave Mark his sand bucket and left them both to play and relax.
When I walk, I think. I feel free and I have time to analyze whatever comes to mind.
I made a Brazilian man laugh, yesterday night. It was completely unintentional.
I was outside during the traditional late-evening downpour and since it was Sunday, stores were closed and streets were empty. I had nowhere to hide. Eventually, I stumbled upon a supermarket that was open on Rio Branco. I stepped in, soaked. The security guard stared at me as I was putting my bag in the locker before going shopping.
“Está chovendo! Ótimo. É bom para as árvores,” he said.
Like Chinese, Brazilians like to state the obvious. Yes, it’s raining, yes it’s good for the trees.
“Sim, bem, mas eu não sou uma planta,” I replied, grumbling.
The guard burst out laughing. “Não sou uma planta! Não sou uma planta! Muito engraçado!”
Then he called the other security guards and repeated my line. “She said, ‘I’m not a plant’!”
I hadn’t meant to be funny, really but hey, why not. For once a Brazilian reacts to what I say… It’s like with Chinese: when I tell a joke, nobody laughs, but I say random stuff that is apparently hilarious. Cultural differences…
Florianópolis is a good snapshot of Brazil. It’s a place that both extremely frustrating and rewarding, full of contradictions. Horrendous traffic jams but amazing beaches once you reach them. Efforts to be more “green” and to recycle but homeless digging through garbage bins at night and some dirty beaches because people just sit there and eat and drink all day long. Hotels with brand new swimming pools—when you are metres from the beach …—but old rooms that need a serious makeover. An island that mostly lives off tourism yet very little offered in terms of friendly customer service. Brand new buses in bus stations that are falling apart.
Some aspects of Brazil are baffling. The country is both very modern, almost futuristic in some major cities, yet way behind in some aspects of life. Like the US, another very big country, many Brazilians don’t seem to be aware of the rest of the world—how things are done abroad, what works and what doesn’t. They just assume other countries are like Brazil. Argentinians often refer to Europe, Uruguayans tend to know both Brazil and Argentina since they are stuck in between, Chile is open to the Pacific and other Andean countries… but Brazil refers to Brazil, period.
Is my butt getting red? I’m wearing my Brazilian bikini that hides absolutely nothing. My butt cheeks rarely see that much sun.
Well, it’s too late to put on more sunscreen now…
It’s hard to be self-conscious on the beach in Brazil. I don’t particularly like my body but you see so many different body shapes, sizes, colours and styles around you that you forget about your own stretch marks, flat butt, body fat and other flaws you can obsess about in front of the mirror.
Oh, a jellyfish! That’s cool.
Wow, there are many jellyfish around here … no wonder, the water is super warm. Shit, I’d better be careful I don’t want to step on…
… yuck. I’ve just squished a jellyfish. Does it hurt? Well, I’m sure it didn’t feel good for the poor jellyfish but I’m fine. Must be the non-lethal kind, it didn’t sting and I’m still alive. Good to know.
It’s the end of the beach. Now I just have to turn around and walk these five kilometres back…