Brazil: Florianópolis & Paraty

A Difficult Road to Paradise

My Brazilian adventure doesn’t start out great. After taking 3 different buses and walking for about an hour with my heavy backpack, I get to the terminal at the border city Chuí between Uruguay and Brazil where I get told that there aren’t any straight buses going to Florianópolis, and that the next bus to Puerto Alegre isn’t leaving before 11pm. Not only do I have to go to a city that I don’t really want to visit, I also have to wait 8 hours to go there, and everyone who has been to a border city in Latin America knows that the border is no fun place to wait. But what the heck, I guess this is all part of the life as a traveler. There’s nothing really to do about it, except find your patience and wait.

In Puerto Alegre, the reality of not knowing the language hits me hard. For 7 months, I’ve been used to being able to communicate with the locals but entering Brazil, this has all come to an end. I’m left with hand signs and trying to search for Portuguese words that somehow remind me of Spanish. Getting to Puerto Alegre, I’m not even sure whether I’m in Puerto Alegre. My confusion only gets bigger from my many hours of being on the road and the fact that there’re still people left on the bus when I get off. I try my best to ask where we are but like I said, this is the place where the reality of not knowing the language shows its ugly face for the first time. So on an early Monday morning, after nearly 24 hours of traveling, only a couple of hours of sleep, I’m left in a world where I’m not sure where I am and I have no idea how to ask. But luckily, there’s a happy ending. A man at a ticket stand knows a couple of English words, and not only does he tell me that I’m in the right spot, he also sells me a ticket for a bus going straight to Florianópolis, and oh God the journey is amazing. 6 hours of stunning nature with lush forest, beautiful mountains and palm trees all around. It’s so beautiful that I do my best to stay awake the whole trip.

I decide to spend one night in the city centre of Florianópolis since my thirty hours of being on the road has worn me down and I need a good night sleep. But as it shows, the center is not the worst place to have a day. I really enjoy my dinner at the market, watching live unfold itself.

The following day, I’m back on the road but only for a short amount of time. My journey takes me to Barra da Lagao on the east side of the island or in other words, my journey takes me to paradise. What I haven’t mentioned yet is that Florianópolis is an island consisting of a big amount of small communities. They’re all well connected and it can be hard to choose your perfect location since they all have different things to offer. In the end, it ends up being the location of my hostel that makes me decide. Here I got ocean view from everywhere, including my room.

Days in Florianópolis

I end up spending a lot of my time hiking different trails around the island. The nature is incredible and most of the time, I got the trails completely to myself. I can still hear the sounds of the wind playing with the huge bamboo forests resulting in this amazing creaking sound, and I still got these beautiful images in my head from the many viewpoints I pass on my way. Viewpoints looking over incredible stretches of beaches, lakes and forest.

If the weather treats me right (some days are really windy and rainy), I’ll spend my day at the beach, swimming, sunbathing, sipping on coconuts, watching the many surfers catching waves. This place is truly a surfer’s paradise, both for regular surfing, windsurfing, kite surfing and stand up paddling. What’s amazing as well, is that you’ll be sharing the ocean with penguins. Nothing bets swimming around with penguins.

Pararty, An Old Colonial City

After almost a week in Florianópolis, it’s once again time to pack up the backpack and continue the journey. After 4 buses and nearly 24 hours of travelling to get to Paraty, I’m once again reminded of the size of Brazil. The weird thing is that when I look at the map, it almost looks like I haven’t moved. But as it shows, Paraty is definitely worth the journey.

I’ve always had these images in my head of what South America must have looked like during the colonization times and this place is like taken out of my imagination. The city is filled with old beautiful buildings which all bare witness of being inspired by European architecture. You got old cobbled streets everywhere and when I say old, I mean old. Here you really got to watch your step when you make your way trough the cosy streets passing the many galleries and small art shops that have spurred during the last decades. To make it even more appealing, you got the ocean all around and within a blink of an eye, you’ll find yourself at a beach that’s like taken out of dream. Paraty is actually part of a national park which besides the many beaches, offers a big amount of trails through stunning rainforest. This is the place where the rainforest meets the ocean, and I find myself having a hard time describing the beauty of the place.

Unfortunately, it’s like the bad weather is following me. I left Florianópolis because of storms and rain, and in Paraty the rain continues. I try coming up with things to do in the rain but after several wet hikes, I come to the conclusion that Brazil just isn’t the same in bad weather. I feel like I’m missing out on a lot of things because they somehow demand a bit of sunshine to be enjoyed. I’m even skipping the beautiful island of Ilha Grande, going straight to Rio de Janeiro instead. But then again, I guess you can’t have a rainforest without a little rain.

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