Farewell Florianopilis

So two weeks in Florianopilis has flown by and before we know it, its time to leave. During our last week with the weather always threatening to rain and the sun struggling for its moment to shine, beaches were not on the agenda. And so sick to death with the shit chat with random hippies we will never see again. And nine bed dorms that have you waking up all through the night as people stumble around trying to find a toilet. We decided to check air bnb, absolutely the best decision we have made yet as we found a beautiful three bed apartment in a great location for the same price as a night in the hostel. So for the first time in nearly 5 months we had our own bedrooms!

We did a surf lesson on Campeche beach where I’m sure I swallowed my body weight in salty water, flashed the instructor multiple times and got completely battered by the waves. You certainly won’t see me on bay watch any time soon. Daisy on the other hand managed to ride the waves for a few seconds at a time before she plummeted to the ground. Pretty impressive. We both emerged an hour later half drowned and with stinging eyes. I will defiantly rethink my swimwear options for any future surfing. The next day we decided to swap surfing for sand boarding and headed for the dunes.

Being our second time sand boarding we managed to stand for slightly more time before falling to an even more dangerous near death. But relentlessly we got back up again and again heading for the even steeper hills, throwing ourselves down with blind faith and tumbling to the bottom bruised and covered in sand. When our hour was up we hobbled to the beach where we sat so covered in sand we almost blended in to the ground. Lunch was served by a stroppy teenager who was clearly forced to serve us and had his girlfriend hanging around in the background silently hating us with her eyes.

Finally when it came time to leave we ordered an Uber and tried to pay the bill only for both our cards to get rejected with the embarrassing insufficient funds. Fuck! The woman was not helpful but finally agreed to hotspot us some data so we could transfer the funds for lunch and scraper quickly in to our waiting cab. Running from one embarrassing shit storm to another as we covered his taxi in sand and spent the entire journey trying to discreetly brush it on to the floor. When we arrived Daisy ran in for some cash that he then didn’t have change for so after begging the neighbours we finally had the taxi paid and entered our apartment covered not only in sand but shame at the chaos of the last half an hour. That brings me to our last day where after a few days of storms where we barely left the house apart from to get the essential munchies and ate rounds of oat flour pancakes with goji berries and chia seeds until our bellies swelled and we sunk in to food like comas.

But on the final day the sun shone for us and we headed to Lagoinha de oeste a beach an hours trek away.

The treck there was easy and we chilled on the beautiful deserted beach for hours before we attempted the scenic rout back along a narrow cliff edge for over an hour where looking over the edge we could see sea lions poking up their heads for air. It then curved in to the jungle where now sweating and dangerously low on water we hoped beyond hope we hadn’t taken a tong turn somewhere.

Relief floods over us when we arrive on the beach finally. The next morning we say our goodbye to Florianopilis.

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Sassy São Paulo

São Paulo feels like home from home and after the small town life we fall in love with the city. The tubes are more than efficient and make London look prehistoric with its cramped, delayed sweaty tubes. The carriages feel like penthouses with their air con and colourful chairs that don’t force you to sit in a rows avoiding eye contact with a stranger.

The area we are staying in is riddled with beautiful boutiques selling one off items, and having worn our clothes to extinction. Every item showing the signs of abuse. We decide it is finally time to lay our misshapen, off white, stained things to rest and adopt a new wardrobe. Day two and we head to Buntantan food and vintage clothes market where people rout through piles of junk looking for that one gem amongst the smell of dead peoples clothes. Then head to the food stalls and shoulder their way to the front to shout their order at very rushed looking staff. We indulged in both parts of this process and head home with yet more clothes. Feeling like something off a chic flick we defiantly got carried away and after two days we emerge new women. We now look far too clean for our hostel and hit the town. Where we end up in a swanky bar that reminds us of London. The gin and tonics go straight to our heads and before we know it we have joined a party of english speakers who meet up once a week to practice English. It’s a win win they get to hear a pissed up Brit in its natural habitat and we get to look like we actually have friends. And although we are in a swanky place we are still overdressed as we managed to turn up for a pyjama party themed night.

We stumble back to the hostel after an embarrassing money issue with the taxi driver where our card got declined so we showered him in change and left whilst he counted the coins. We managed it up the stairs and demanded a lighter so we could make drunken munchies before stumbling to bed armed with water. The next morning we rise, somehow without hangovers and feeling like we were winning at life we decide to hit the town again this time with a new friend. Once again we drink too much and chat political bollocks we know nothing about before deciding our bellies need attention and head to the Mexican up the road. We get multiple rounds of tacos before heading to a night club. A night club we decided was far too expensive so instead hung around outside drinking neat whisky and chatting to the locals. But Realising we could no longer stomach our drinks and every mouthful was a challenge we thought it sensible to head home.

The next morning barely a hangover in sight we head to the Japanese part of town where two quick efficient tubes later and you emerge from the station wondering how you made it all the way to Japan. The streets converted in to a marked wafting different delicious smells from every direction. Now with not enough belly space for all the new creations we want to try we get tactful deciding to order one of everything and split it therefore trying the maximum amount of flavours. The giant gyoza was swimming in a delicious sauce and the steamed bun felt like sinking your teeth in to a cloud. The prawn balls weren’t quiet as good but then maybe by this point we were spoilt. Followed by some sweet bean pancakes that really confuse the tastebuds in a good way. Next we move on the nick nack stalls where we buy things we don’t need at prices too cheep to question. A quick wonder around the town and the worlds tiniest Japanese garden and it’s time to drag our swollen bellies home. Deciding to walk it off before getting the tube, we leave Japan behind us and walk towards home where we stumble upon a run down part of town with a pile of puke every few meters and old grey buildings towering above us. After having only seen the bright lights of São Paulo its certainly a contrast. That evening after a few rounds of cards we take over the Netflix area dominating the sofas with our blankets and watch kill bill, and in every loading break we make up the stories to go with the Portuguese comics lying around. Giggling enough to drive the other back packers away wondering what we have smoked. (Let’s not tell them that we are naturally this blonde).

The next morning and time to say goodbye to our new friend and head out for more sight seeing. We start the day my favourite way and go for lunch. Where we order enormous bowls of ramen from Lamen Kazu, they defiantly live up to expectations and I slurp the contents down in record time and then help Daisy finish hers. (Moments like this remind me why we work so well travelling together). Next trying to fit in as many things in one day we walk home the scenic rout stopping at a park, then going to the top of a sky scraper for our classic view point where we were offered complimentary champagne. Winning! We stop at another park on the way home where we watch a hoard of skaters whiz by, a girl practising some very energetic dance routine to no music and a lost looking gringo play the harmonica. Wondering what the people watching us must think. On the way home we pop in to “Coffee lab” and order two caçhasa coffees… and wow they tasted like liquid heaven I won’t say more but go there!

Another day of adventures and we wonder back to our haven of a hostel “cafe hostel” where the owner is non stop singing, creating a ripple affect around the hostel as we all echo his cheesy tunes. That evening we head for falafel wraps at “Haya falafel” where we chose kale wrapped falafels and pumpkin houmos! Yummy!

That brings us to day five in the city and we head to the park to read our books in the sun, before visiting the modern art museum offering free entry on Tuesdays! We then head for lunch in “Jiquitia” where you can choose any three dishes on the menu to make your own set menu. Despite them being run out of everything the choices we did have were very nice. Made better by the incredibly sweet desserts. We arrive back home to find the hostel overrun with professional looking cameras and enough camera men to create a block buster movie. Only it’s not so no chance of us becoming famous no matter how much we hover around awkwardly trying to find a corner to ourselves.

So it’s our last day in São Paulo and what better way to spend it than to jump 12000feet out of an airplane for the bargain price on £50, which does beg the question is the parachute included? You’ll be sorry to hear it was and we will continue to clog your news feed for the foreseeable future. The dive was amazing despite missing our bus there and having to pay an overpriced taxi.

We all huddled in the back of the mini plane practically sat on each other’s laps, Nervously giggling as we watched the earth turn in to a patchwork quilt. After watching daisy plummet through the sky it was finally my turn. I dangled half in half out the aircraft and when thrown out my giggles morphed in to screams and my stomach struggled to catch up with me as the adrenaline coursed my body! All too soon the parachute is deployed and a few spins and a journey through a cloud later and I land on my feet only to be pulled back on to my bum in a fit of giggles.I feel like a child wanting to demand again again. That night we head to the bus station hoping to get the night bus to Florianopolis only to find out that we would have to wait till 23.30pm! Note to self: always book busses first unless you really enjoy 3 hours sat on uncomfortable plastic chairs people watching.

Unbelievable Ubatuba

After leaving Thea I felt slightly lost, three months of clinging on to each other like leaches, whilst hiking and non stop giggling. I arrived in Ubatuba which is a town north of São Paulo, this is where the Brazilians go on holiday, to see 80 different paradise beaches – which really are paradise. I arrived at Tie hostel, where I exchanged work for accommodation. Only to find Brazilian hippes smoking weed, Incense burning all round the hostel and singing Portuguese songs which instantly reminded me of the inbetweeners “why is there always some prick with a guitar”. Let’s just say that first impression aren’t everything, within hours of being there I had met my new family for 10 days.

Constantly pointing at random objects and saying what the name is in our mother tongue, finishing every sentence with “entende” this is where I learnt not to just reply with just “Si si” as it made me look like more of a gringa.

After exploring ubatuba city I decided to volunteer at another hostel further down south called Tribo hostel. This was the place that you could spend 5 years and it only feels like a month has gone by.

A tiny little town where everyone knows each other says “bom dia” every morning, bbqs in the locals homes, dancing forró in the rain and nicknaming ubatuba “ubachuva” “chuva” means rain in Portuguese. I was extremely lucky with the people I met as Brazilians will make you your best friend within the first five minutes of meeting you even if you don’t speak their language.

We watched the stars at night guessing which ones were planets and figuring out which way is north and south, swimming all the way to the bottom of the sea bed to collect sand even if we couldn’t hear anything else for the rest of the day, jumping of the rocks not knowing if it was safe, drinking red wine, learning “portanol” which is Portuguese and Spanish combined. After a month of sunsets and sandflies it was time to say our goodbyes.

Lost in a Landslide

After 4 gruelling days of jungle trekking and endless stairs we were more than ready to embark on the short 3 hour walk to our bus back to Cusco.

We began watching the journey that had taken us days whiz past our eyes. But it could never have been just a five hour journey now could it! We hit a line of traffic and very reassuringly our driver instantly muttered that we weren’t getting home tonight and to stay in the car as it was still dangerous outside. We awaited his return for all of 10 minuets before walking up ahead to see what the commotion was. A landslide covering the only road back!

There we could see our bus driver lording over the pile seemingly shouting orders but doing nothing. Whilst all the firemen stood around watching a simple bus driver throw his weight around. The only equipment they seemed to have bought was a long rope we used for a giant game of tugawar with a tree, needless to say the tree won. About an hour in the firemen all rounded up and dispersed having been absolutely no help. So now with no authority apart from a few scruffy bus drivers and some eager to get home passengers we began to shovel mud handfuls at a time off the edge of the cliff. Scrambling with the branches of trees trapped in the mess as they tore our hands to bits only for the cuts to be instantly plastered with mud. The rocks were a group effort as we rolled them out of the road. Headlights turned on to illuminate the muddy faced hills have eyes looking people we had now become, as we continued clawing at mud for hours. As night fell the genius opportunists from the surrounding towns started appearing in the crowds selling hot chocolate and sandwiches, a car pumped up the techno and with the car lights peering from either side of the mound it began to feel like a party gone wrong.

The hours passed and rumours spread from the other side that there were busses turning around and heading back to Cusco, so we checked the driver would wait whilst we went to see, we sacked in the digging and crossed. Waded through a few rivers only to find we were too late all the busses had gone! Now soaking wet, covered in mud and damn right pissed off we retraced our steps returning to find the bus no longer there. So now completely stranded in the middle of nowhere with a very temperamental landslide that could go again at any minute. We decided our best bet was to try to walk back to the town we had stayed in at the start of our trek. This happened to be a lot further that we remembered and we seemed invisible to passing cars as we stood in the middle of the road desperately waving our hands around. Finally we got picked up by a lovely family who cleared the back seats of any possessions before letting 4 smelly wet Brit’s clamber in to the back. We arrived at gone 3am and everything was closed as we wondered town banging on any door looking vaguely like a hostel. We did manage to bag some bread rolls and cans of tuna to tame our rumbling bellies and eventually as we almost gave up and had started eyeing up doorways, we found an open window pushed it open with a timid “hola” and managed to get the hostel owners to let us in. I almost hugged the guy with relief but I’m glad I didn’t as a wet muddy faced stranger hug at 4am would have only got us turned away. I don’t think any of us even said good night before we fell asleep surrounded by crumbs and tuna cans. I had an ice cold shower in the morning where I washed the mud dreadlocks out of my hair and scrubbed and soaked my hands only to find the mud was stubbornly unremovable and remained there for a few days despite how many times I washed them. We payed for another bus back to Cusco only to stop at the same point, turns out the landslide fell again just before we got there, and even 24hrs on the only machinery was one spade and the only authority was a set of new bus drivers. We only waited an hour this time before finally crossing. Three hours later we got back to Cusco and march straight up to the tour company to give them a piece of our minds only to be called liers and have water thrown at us.

But not about to let this taint a great week with some amazing people we went back to Organika and ate till our tummies were sore. All finished off with the biggest pancake known to man. Nothing like some good food to numb out aches and tame our tempers. Goodbye Cusco.

Mooching in Mancora

Our flight back to the mainland was a turbulent death trap most of which was caused by our coffee shakes. The flight operated like a bus where once at Guayaquil we disembarked with only half the passengers as the others stayed aboard for the next stop Quito. We got straight on a night bus to Tumbes Peru and against all advice crossed South America’s most dangerous boarder at night. We hopped off the bus at immigration where there was a power cut and we stood in the dark the only light the bored staffs phones illuminating their faces as they scrolled social media, until the systems rebooted. Finally we were cleared and got back on our bus and drove through a refugee camp with Venezuelans sleeping rough and in tents. The boarders all over South America have seemed overwhelmed with refugees. We swapped busses in Tumbes and boarded the only bus leaving at this time of night. A bus run by some very obviously coked up men. At least 5 of them were wedged in the cockpit chain smoking and aggressively chewing on god knows what! So 2am tired and pissed off we arrive in Mancora with nowhere to stay.

Mancora is the Peruvian equivalent to Palomino (Colombia) but minus the power cuts. It has a laid back hippy vibe that bubbles over in to a party town at night. The beaches are long stretches with only a scattering of bodies.

There are plenty of food options and we have tried the £2 set menus all over town. Whole bbq fish, Chinese inspired Peruvian classics and ice cream coffees to die for.

We’ve spent our days lazing on the beach soaking up the sun or covering ourselves in mud at the mud baths trying to calm the sunburn. This being the only time it is acceptable to roll in the mud sober.

We have leisurely nibbled our way around town enjoying the slow paced lifestyle after our jam packed Ecuadorean escapades. In the evening we have enjoyed a few beers or pisco sours watching the town come to life, but quickly sneak off to bed before our minds become hazy. Being the good girls our friends back home didn’t think existed.

Throughout our stay I have been discussing ideas with a local tattooist and tonight before our night bus my ideas shall come alive.

Problems on the Pacific coast

After fuck all sleep, scratching till I bled it was time to head to Buenaventura a place we have chosen to go, despite everybody’s advice and looks of shock when we mention it. But being off the beaten track it should be a bit of unspoiled paradise right? Wrong! On the bus there you watched the built up westernised city (we had only just been complaining about) crumble away replaced with tin roofed shacks and jungle abyss. After the pristine beaches and busy city’s we had become used to, this felt like something out of an apocalyptic film. In my mind I kept hearing the saying taught to me by the locals only yesterday “el que no oye consejos no llege a viejo”. A saying I could now see we had completely ignored. Entering the city didn’t seem much better, the buildings were made out of bricks but most were either derelict, burnt out or half built. The people don’t seem as friendly and their isn’t a backpack or hostel in sight.

Our hotel was a puzzle to the taxi driver who had never heard of it, even when we finally pulled up outside there was no telling this building was in-fact a hotel. The reception was a locked cage with a very unhelpful lady watching tv, barely looking up to acknowledge us. Now in our room safe but seriously itchy, sketched out and hungry, but not one bit reassured by the reception cage! We realised we can’t stay in the room forever as our bellies would never allow it and head out in search for food. We managed to find a nice part of town with kids playing outside and actual restaurants! So we grabbed some cheep food and booked a boat out of there for the very next morning, having survived one night we didn’t want to push our luck.

The next morning I had scratched so much my bites had joined with their neighbouring bites and created giant bites all over my body! I was so tormented I wanted to cut out each bite individually. As we head of to Ladrilleros tired and delirious from all the antihistamines and sleeping tablets, plus now soaked to the bone as the weather had decided now was the perfect time to rain down a shit storm on my already pretty miserable self.

We really started to wonder what we were doing in a place where there were no tourists and the only accommodation was overpriced and unappealing. So we ditched our bags and had a walk around the area, where the only streets were muddy tracks slowly turning to rivers with every moment that passed. The beach was beautiful but my current circumstances made me unappreciative and I only managed one positive comment on the view so as not to be a spoilt fun sponge. I am on holiday after all! Looking for a distraction from the itching and a break from the rain we stopped for lunch, where we received bland vegetables that we doused in soy sauce to try and coax out some flavour. Completely despairing I decided to call my mum because no matter how old or independent I think I am, the mere sigh of a cold or creepy crawly and I just want my mum. So now feeling slightly better we debated our options.

1. Stay here in this strange land that despite the rain gushing from the sky didn’t have enough water to wash our clothes and rid them of the bugs potentiality living in them.

2. Accept the loss of the tenner we had spent on travel and head back to civilisation and hope for some better luck in Popayan.

Easy choice! So we left with a bitter taste in our mouths and soaking bags on our backs. Fingers crossed for Popayan.

No room in Riosucio

So the three hour bus journey was anything but and we arrived at Riosucio five hours later after a wheel change and then a chaotic change of bus altogether where two buses going in opposite directions swapped passengers and did a dodgy turn on a tight mountain road. So now on a considerably smaller bus, extremely squashed with people stand up spooning down the aisle, there were people hanging out the door with arms gripped through the windows. Buses here are so unpredictable, there are no real stops and people just hop on and off whenever they please with a wave of the hand or a shout to the driver. And there is ALWAYS room for one more.

Once in Riosucio we were bundled on the side of the road with locals who had all bought tents for the night as the local carnival had the town’s accommodation overwhelmed. In the dark and hungry, we were told all buses had stopped! We began seriously considering our street-sleeping strategy when we managed to flag down a bus going pass to the next city. So now with a glimmer of hope we board our posh empty minibus with reclining leather seats and plug sockets, feeling like we had finally made it! I asked the driver if he had eaten, which was me subtly hinting that I was starving. He pulled over and we ate some strange but enjoyable corn pizza-style fast food. Even with the stop we somehow managed to get to Peireira early. Now at a busy terminal and on a roll we took advantage of the busses and jumped straight on one to Cali. We arrived at 2am, disgruntled from a three hour journey that turned in to 12 hours of unplanned travelling. I found a card for a hostel in my bag that I must have picked up somewhere along the way. So with blind faith we headed to El Viajero, our new home! And definitely a party hostel as no one was in the dorm despite evidence of gringos scattered across the room. Flip flops and bags everywhere. We flopped on to bed and remained their until 8am when we knew breakfast would be being served.