Lewy Brazil: Florianopolis

December 1, 2009

Driving from the airport in Floripa, our driver touted his city, talking about how safe it was, how beautiful, how their tech and fishing industries are booming.  It was lovely, and we were most struck by how undeveloped a lot of the island was, how much of it is still covered by mountains and trees, beaches, empty and protected.  We spent yesterday exploring with Gustavo, our trusty leader who was wonderful, younger than me and Scott, and fond of surfing before work.  He drove us all around the island, first to the Praça Quinze de Novembro, where we walked along the shopping streets and marveled at the giant sprawling tree in the middle, then to the lagoa area.  The shops were beachy and cute, and the whole island was just gorgeous.

We passed huge sand dunes, where Scott and I rented sandboards (like snowboards, without boots), and glided down.  Walking back up, it was clear that skiing never would have taken off without the invention of the tow rope or chairlift.  It was super fun though, to link turns in shorts and tees shirts while looking out at the ocean.  By the end, I was covered in sand everywhere.  My mom has pictures, I’ll post those later.

We had lunch and drove along the protected east side of the island, where there were villages nestled between the ocean and the lagoa.  My mom noted that a lot of the houses had horses tied up in front.  Gustavo explained that the roads stopped well short of the ocean, because of the dunes, and horses were still the best way to get across.  Trusty cars, or motorcycles were fairly useless.  Who wouldn’t want a horse just to get to the beach more easily?

The north part of the island looked like Florida, or California, with fancy houses and private beach clubs.  As our time on Floripa was winding down, we stopped in San Antonio, one of the first Portuguese colonial areas.  There, on a sunny little cove, there were cobbled streets and old houses, a few people sitting at plastic tables out on the sand eating oysters and sipping cold beers.  Gustavo said that’s where he comes for New Years every year, just a low key, easy time, with local people, looking out, watching the fireworks across the old bridge.

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