Another Town, Another Popped Shoulder
13.11.2012 - 15.11.2012 25 °C
Overnight Stays: Somewhere between Sao Paulo and Florianopolis; Florianopolis (2 nights)
DW - Our boat-ride back to the mainland from Ilha Grande was much less rocky and wet than our trip there, mostly because the boat was bigger than a 2-stroke lawnmower and it was morning so the seas were being nice. In Angra we managed to snag two (2) of the last three (3) bus tickets to Sao Paulo (although separated) which gave us a huge sigh of relief as Angra can be described as nothing more than a shithole, and by damned we were hanging 'round there any longer than we needed. Despite the relief, the bus was exhausting, as the weather was nice and it seemed the whole day was wasted inside a bus.
We arrived into Sao Paulo, a bus-station we knew all too well (remember our Iguazu to Rio trip?) around 10pm and settled for the final bus of the night to Florianopolis, phew, only a handful of tickets left. You might at this stage be thinking, 'Why don't you just buy tickets online?'. Well there's two (2) key reasons for this:
1. The arrival times of buses is about as reliable as a guy just trying to be 'friends' with a good looking girl (kind of like when I met Loz actually)
2. You need to be a Brazilian citizen to register, bastards!
Arriving into Florianopolis about 27 hours after leaving Ilha Grande we were disappointed to find cloud overhead and the wind blowing a gale, seriously what is with the weather in Brazil?! Turns out October/November isn't the best time to visit the beaches there, hmmm. Only because we weren't sick of riding buses, we boarded a local bus, then another, and finally arrived at our hostel, on the other side of the picturesque island of Florianopolis. There we were made to feel very much at home by an Aussie fella who seemed to be running the show. The hostel was awesome; a stone's throw from the beach, and full of staff who just want to help and party, legendary people. Still unable to confirm our flights to Cuba and an email telling us the gaucho ranch we wanted to visit in Uruguay was booked out, we were a little edge, especially when all we wanted to do was hang out at the beach; not optimal with gale-force winds and grey skies. After a terrific lunch in the cute town we were staying in, Loz took her frustration out on the pillow, while I stayed awake and hoped for the good news to start rolling in, and that it did...
In those few hours that Loz caught some zeds, miracles started to happen (not really, but the good news began and our frowns were turned upside-down). Firstly, I managed to locate another gaucho ranch in Uruguay who offer a live-in farmstay experience, and they replied to my email straight away saying they'd be more than happy to welcome us for the weekend. So began the comical email chain done by both parties entirely in Google Translate as their English was only marginally better than our Spanish. I'd write to them in English, and they'd reply in Spanish, brilliant, thank you Google! Secondly, our travel agent had returned our email re booking flights to Cuba (we weren't able to pay for them directly, some problem with our credit cards or something) and said he'd book them for us and we'd pay him, boom. Thirdly, I had notified the hostel staff that our room stank of piss, which isn't actually the good part of the story. But when we first checked-in, despite the ever-so-friendly staff, we noticed a horrid wee stench in our room, and it was terrible. We were reluctant to say anything, but eventually I told them as nicely as possible and they were incredibly helpful and moved us into another room without drama. So things were on the up, and with free Caprinhas at the hostel bar we realised how much our day had turned around!
I may have downed one (1) too many Caprinhas (which were delicious by the way) and the rest of the night became shady for me, but I do remember a delicious hamburger made out of the back of a combi-van full of God-knows-what; one (1) of the best things I've ever eaten.
Now with a bit of plan on where we were going after Florianopolis (the ranch in Uruguay all but confirmed) we took the bus into the city to check it all out, and pre-book our bus for the following day towards the border. Nearby the bus station was the height of activity, filled with shops, cafes, markets and restaurants, and people in every direction. Here we spent the rest of the morning, eating, shopping and enjoying a bit of small city action, loving it. We were also running on high because we'd managed to book our first 'Leito' bus, which means 'Bed bus', ahh the small things. Assuming it was also our last chance to stock up on Haviainas, we did just that and snagged a few trendy pairs for chips, love Brazil.
As the day progressed the clouds cleared and we excitedly hit the beach for the arvo, with a borrowed (from the hostel) surfboard under-arm. The beach in our town was perfect for beginner surfers, with small clean waves and fairly warm water (especially compared to ilha Grande, surprisingly). And so we spent a few hours trying to get Loz standing up on waves, nailing it from the word go. I had a crack for a moment and on the first wave I managed to get onto my shoulder popped (as it does), and have to throw the towel in only minutes after picking it up, stupid shoulder. Thankfully it popped back in by itself a couple of minutes later, but nearly two (2) weeks on it still hurts a little. The sun stuck around and we baked and became to love Florianopolis very quickly, agreeing that if we had more time, we'd spend weeks/months there. But sadly the Wombat Tour is coming to an end far too quickly, and with still 1,000 things to do and places to see, we had less than 24 hours left.
A few more Caprinhas at the hostel and we then headed out in search of some grub and a traditional little Brazilian local bar with yellow plastic seats. Didn't take long and we felt right at home, sharing $3.50AUD 1-litre beers for hours, surrounded by what was obviously local legends, very happy campers we were. The lady was again serving food out of the back of her van and it was again unbeatable and super-cheap, and we didn't get sick from it, win. What a day in Florianopolis was had.
Mother Nature knew we were leaving the next day, and she cried and cried, unstopped for the entire day. Our bus wasn't leaving until midnight so we had lots of time to kill, and the hostel were happy enough for us to stick around as long as we weren't pests. It was really just too miserable to hit the beach so we spent the most part of the daylight hours in the bar with most other guests, chatting, playing pool, blogging, relaxing. To break it up we returned to the first lunch place we'd visited and for just $21AUD between us we feasted on Portuguese chicken, rice, beans, chips, and beer, and Brazil is expensive you say?
Deciding we'd well and truly overstayed our welcome at the hostel we left around 6pm, to another local yellow-chair bar with just the owner and his regular patron there, sipping cervejas. That night a great game of cards was created; 'Hats'. You'll probably see it in next year's book of card-games (if there is such a book), but you heard it first, it was born in Florianopolis, by the one (1) and only Lozenge. After a few hours, accompanied by delicious cheap beers, we patched up the holes that existed in the early stages of the game and sealed it as a success before having to make a move towards the bus-station, time to move on.
Although short, our time in Florianopolis holds strong fond memories: we confirmed a ranch stay in Uruguay (something we were really really looking forward to before visiting South America); Cuba and Panama were confirmed, yay; free Caprinhas, whoop; the food was amazing, especially out of the back of a van; and Loz showed everyone on the beach how to surf while I showed them how to pop your shoulder out! Brazil, we sure are going to miss you, despite your unpredictable weather.