Date: Friday, February 11, 2000 12:52 AMDoug McLean World Tour 1999-2000Back Home Next
Subject: Jan. 22-27, 2000: Florianopolis/Ihla Santa Catarina
Current Date/Location: Early morning of Fri, Feb 11, 2000 in Juliano's Apartment.
Current Itinerary: Costume party in Jaraguá later tonight...then who knows about this weekend...will be in either Jaraguá or in Brasilia...then next week in Cuiaba for Ana Paula's graduation (Note: I am attending the graduation of a girl who said to me over lunch in Sao Paulo..."You know, I have never liked America or Americans...and never thought I WOULD like one...till I met you." Then, she invited me to her graduation...after a lead in like that, you can't miss it, now can you!
Itinerary for Carnival: Salvador!!! OK...for all of you who don't know...Salvador is in the state of Bahia on the East Coast of Brazil...about 10-12 hours North of Rio de Janiero by bus. Salvador is the BOMB for
Carnival here in Brazil...if you ever plan to visit Carnival in Brazil...forget about Rio...from all accounts, Salvador is where it is AT!!!
Jan 22, 2000 (Sat):
Agustin and I woke in Encantada, Ihla do Mel...had breakfast, and said goodbye to Roby and to our new favorite island, Ihla do Mel. It was hard to leave, we both loved the island and Roby is one crazy Italian guy to hang out with...a good guy through and through...but, cést la vie...we had to move on! Agustin and I were both headed South to Florianopolis on the Island of Santa Catarina...It was the farthest South I was planning to visit in Brazil and Agustin was planning to spend some days there before he continued South to Uruguay and Argentina.
We hopped on the boat to the mainland, and connected to a bus to Paranagua...then took another bus to Joinville (note: this busride includes a way-cool 10 minute ferry ride...it is really nice an picturesque...).
Upon arrival in Joinville, we found out that we could only take a later bus that would not get into Florianopolis before 2am...not the best option. So, we purchased a ticket to Florianopolis for 7:30am tomorrow and went into the town of Joinville for the night.
While walking through the town of Joinville, we noticed that the guidebooks were correct, a heavy German influence was apparent in the town's architecture and the people looked more German. We met very friendly Brazillians who directed us to the Hotel Tropicana...we arrived...got a room for 18 Reals per person for the night (10 dollars). The room turned out to be nice, with a private bathroom and a TV.
We then headed out to find internet at 8pm...searched far and wide for internet...walked the entire city practically...and determined that there was absolutely none...I bought a walkman to listen to my Portuguese Audio tapes...we were starving so we ate McDonalds as they were closing...went
back to the room, cranked the airconditioning...and watched the worst movie we have ever seen...about a asteroid heading towards the earth...hits the moon...then the fragments of the moon rain deadly terror on the earth...and ofcourse the government covers up the whole thing until everyone is about to
die...c'est la vie...needless to say, we watched the whole movie...decided we were too destroyed to go out...and crashed.
Jan 23, 2000 (Sun):
Woke at 6:15am...had an awesome breakfast at the hotel, maybe the best of the entire trip (except, they didn't have coconut bread...darn-it!). Got in a taxi driven by Mario Andretti to the bus station, this guy had no fear whatsoever! Took Bus to Florianopolis...Agustin and I sat across the isle from eachother on the bus (when we bought the tickets, they didn't have 2 exactly together). Well, you can guess that Agustin could have gone back and kissed that ticket-seller when the most beautiful girl in most of Brazil
boarded the bus and sat down next to him...sometimes you win...sometimes you lose...this time Agustin won BIG! Anyway, I listened to my Portuguese tapes...happy as a clam...while Agustin sat happy as a clam talking to this mortal goddess for the better part of the trip. She was absolutely flawless...lovely, nice, even a doctor (pediatrician...loves kids)...the kind of girl that your mother prays to God that you will bring home one day...but apparrently someone elses mother had prayed harder than Agustin's mother, because she already had a boyfriend...cést la vie...so you lose some...that's life. She really was one one of the nicest people you would ever meet...she even called her boyfriend (darn-it for Agustin) on her cell
phone to try to help us book a hostel. Anyway, we arrived in Florianopolis said goodbye to her ..discovered that the official Youth Hostel in Florianopolis is full...so, we booked another in the Southern part of the island, Alberque Almacao (in the city of Almacao).
Took an island bus and arrived around 3pm in Almacao...it is a nice hostel (Direct TV and everything...found out that those darned fighting Houston Oilers...I mean Tennessee Oilers...I mean Tennessee Titans are going to the Superbowl...just a little late for Earl Campbell and for Bum Phillips...but I hope they win it anyway!). We met Giovanni/Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerias and Leandro/Sao Paulo...we were starving...the four of us headed out and had lunch by the kilo (cheap too...$2 for a lot of food!). Walked around the small beach and out on the rock promitory...I ended up talking to Giovanni for quite a while. He is a very cool guy, 19 years old from Belo Horizonte.
He has studied English some, but this is his first trip to much of anywhere and his first time at a youth hostel encountering many people from foreign countries. He was very interested in the USA, Mexico, and in speaking English.
We all returned to hostel...hung out for a while...talked with a German girl and a woman from The Netherlands...at some point, they mentioned a new law in Ipanema regarding proper beach attire. OK...I hate to dispel myths...but the girls in Brazil are NOT topless on the beaches. I have actually not
seen anyone topless in all of South America (&*#@%!!!!)...and actually, it is illegal to go topless on the beaches (atleast in Rio...I don´t know about the entire country...but this discussion is about Rio)...but, I learned that the mayor of Ipanema had just passed a new law allowing women to go topless in Ipanema on Wednesdays! This was after a recent protest by Feminists in Rio wanting to be able to go to the beach topless. I took this to be a great victory for Feminism and proclaimed that I hope to go to Ipanema soon
and join the victorious forces of Feminism...and hope that they are successful in their quest to have full equality during the rest of the days of the week. I am planning to go this weekend to Rio to visit my friend
Gabriela, but may extend my stay until Wednesday, to show my full support for the cause! Ahhhh...it is tough being a bleeding-heart liberal...but one must do what one must do...
Later that night, we all then went out to the one and only club in all of Almacao...met two nice Brazillian girls (Vivian and Raquel) and Giovanni and I talked to them until 4am...crashed.
NOTE: As I mentioned, I had listened to the Portuguese tapes on the entire bus ride from Joinville to Florianopolis. Today, I REALLY noticed a huge improvement in my Portuguese skills, and so did Agustin. I spoke with much greater fluency and with more confidence today than in days past...my learning had been accelerated greatly. At the time of this typing, I have finished the course and highly reccomend that if you are ever in a foreign country for any length of time...take and listen to audio language courses
while you are in the country...it is great to learn then to immediately practice! (OK...this sounds like a plug for language tapes around the world...but it is true.)
Jan 24, 2000 (Mon):
Woke in Almacao...breakfast...met Lota/Argentina who works in the world of Refrigerated Cargo Ships to Sweden...her parents are Swedish but she has lived her entire life in Buenos Aires...she was interesting to talk to about cargo and she actually understood what a freight-forwarder was...go figure. I read some and listened to my audio tapes for a while...and then joined her at the beach for a couple of hours. Aparrently, it was just long enough to turn me into a medium-rare steak...ouch. I am not badly sunburned...but it is the kind that feels prickly and keeps you sweating all day...oh well...
Went into Florianopolis with Agustin and Giovanni...made a reservation at the official youth hostel for the following day...so tomorrow we can move into the BIG CITY!!! ...used the internet at last and sent my folks assurances that I had not been killed in a bus crash! We walked back to the busstation to catch the bus to Almacao about 10pm...there was a Samba Batteria practicing in the plaza adjacent to the busstation...it was awesome to watch...I love these drum corps...the guys really get into it and the
sounds are inspirational to the soul (as well as the feet)! We hopped the bus back to the hostel and called it a night.
Jan. 25, 2000 (Tue):
Woke in Albergue Almacao...I read Hemmingway's The Old Man and the Sea...it was very good. I enjoyed the determination and futility of the story...I recommend it to anyone...and if you think you don't have time to read it, you are wrong...it took me 2 hours this morning to read...you can make the
time if it is important to you...if not, cést la vie...I enjoyed it!
We packed bags...Agustin, Giovanni, Leandro, and I left Almacao and checked into Florianopolis Youth Hostel...did laundry at the local Lav-Lev (Do it yourself laundry place...actually kinda rare around here...usually they want to do it for you at a slightly higher price...but we are cheap, so did it
ourselves.). I got a haircut for 5 reals!!! (about 2.50USD!!!...did my Scottish heart good!). Went to shopping center as is the custom in these parts to see and be seen...walked around aimlessly in the center and then in the town...used the internet...went back to the hostel...hung out for awhile, met Deborah/Argentina (lives in MVD) and Drago/Spain...we (Agustin, Leandro, Deborah, Drago, and Giovanni) went to have some drinks in the terrace of Cafe Cancun...stayed there until 2am...just talking.
Returned to he hostel, and I ended up spending about an hour on the steps talking with Giovanni...he is a great guy, about to go to University (if he passes his tests into UNICAMP or another school) to study Computer Engineering (Computer Science Degree equiv.)...we talked for awhile, and he reminded me much of myself...he doesn't drink, smoke or do drugs...not for moral reasons, but rather, he just doesn't like them for himself...if others want to drink, etc. he is OK with that, but not for himself...hmmmmm...sounds familiar, eh??? Anyway, he says that this is very rare for Brazil (quite a culture of Choppe (beer) drinkers here)...I told him that is rare for anywhere. But the amazing thing that he told me was that the past 5-6 days have been the best of his life...hanging out with Agustin and I and the others at the youth hostel!!! I was floored...it is suddenly seemed like quite a responsibility to be with this young guy who is telling you how much he is enjoying talking and learning English from you and your friend...I can't describe it, but it made me feel both good and unworthy at the same time. He wants to do some of the same things and travel and meet various people across the world...I hope he can. Again, I am on a trip that few people in this world can or will ever take...reasons preventing many are monetary, personal, or otherwise...but for many reasons, it is simply undoable for the vast majority of folks...I hope that if he truly wishes to do it someday, that he will be able to find the resources to make it happen...I can only hope the best for Giovanni...truly a unique and wonderful guy who I hope will be able to keep in touch with him and count him as a lifetime friend!
Jan. 26, 2000
Woke...had breakfast...went to Praia Mole (Mole Beach) for the day with Debora, Dragos, Agustin, Leandro, and Giovanni...took the bus to the beach...arrived...and the wind was blowing like a bat outta hell!!! We were literally in 30-40 mph gusts of wind...and the sand was pelting us...but hey, we were at the beach and we were not going to leave!
We found a wonderfully huge rock outcropping that was mercifully free of sand to blow in our faces...and the wind had produced some large swells in the ocean and we watched the waves crash on the rocks...it was great. One of the nicest ways to spend the afternoon that I could have thought of...we took lots of pictures on these majestic rocks that jutted out defiantly into the ocean that was forever pounding it...wave after wave.
We returned to town...hit the internet...showered and changed...headed for a cool club we had heard about, The Chopperia Continental...we arrived and determined that the crowd was somewhat more chronologically gifted for out tastes and we headed to the somewhat less refined Cafe Cancun! It is a cool disco that has a pretty poor Mexican theme (as verified by our Mexican expert - Agustin)...but hey, it is a cheesy disco, what do you expect???!!! We went in and danced to the live band which changed later to house music. I ended up dancing with a Brazillian girl who could really dance (yes, I forgot her name)...we had a blast until I was too tired to take it anymore...then I had to crash around 4am...too much...too much...
Jan. 27, 2000 (Thur):
Woke late...used the internet all morning...ate lunch...used the internet (actually blasted out lots of e-mails and journals) most of the rest of the day...lots of time online...most of the day.
I said goodbye to Agustin and Giovanni at the hostel, but they insisted on walking me to the busstation to see me off. Now, that is what friends do for eachother...they go out of their way. I guess it isn't much, but in a travelling world like I live in, to have someone walk you to the bus station to bid you farewell means alot. I caught the bus at 8pm for Sao Paulo.
NOTE: In the past week or so, I had spent lots of time with some exceptional people...namely a great bunch of guys. Juliano from Brasilia, a fun guy who is cool, motivated by life, and very interesting. Roby from Italy...a really good guy who is quite often the life of the party. Agustin from Mexico, an xtraordinary guy who is insightful, interesting, wild, and a poet at heart. Giovanni from Belo Horizonte, Brazil...an incredible guy who is in the formative stages of his life...and seems to be making the right decisions, going in the right direction, and has a thirst/yearning to learn and to experience new things that is inspirational to everyone who he
I often find myself in the company of women...not that I am complaining much (I enjoy women quite alot)...but I had a great time this past week or so, "Hanging out with the Guys". I must admit that for some reason, I find it harder to make good/lasting guy friends than to become good friends with girls (Many of the cutest girls I have ever known have "just wanted to be friends"...smile). But, seriously, to find friends like Juliano, Roby, Agustin, and Giovanni in the span of just over a week truly surprised me. They are the types of guys I want as lifelong friends...I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge that I am a better person for having known them, and I expect to continue to count them among my friends well into the future.
Obrigado, Gracias, and Grazie to Juliano, Giovanni, Agustin, and to Roby for your friendship!