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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Floating around Florianópolis

So after an extremely long bus we have made it to Florianópolis and first impressions are good. We spend the first day getting to know the area and lazing on the beach. What a hard life we are living out here!

That evening we decide to cut some costs and make dinner at home, followed by a walk along the beach where we are approached by a man selling “Feliz brownies”. A glance between us is all we need to know we are in. And two brownies later we are at a food market eating the biggest pile of seafood and chips I have ever seen. We have both been giggling away for quite a while before the waitress comes to ask if everything was ok. It was at this point it dawned on us how high we really are as I stare at the lady blankly struggling to come up with a reply and Daisy laughs in her face. She leaves the table looking puzzled and I turn to Daisy in a fit of giggles. Her eyes have now become tiny red slits and I dread to think what mine look like. We decide it’s time we get back to the comfort of the hostel only to make it outside the door where we see a sign for crepes and stumble back in for more munchies. After a very confusing broken interaction with the crepe man I believe I ordered two crepes with Nutella and banana. Now this is not what turned up to our table after what felt like an eternity waiting.

Essentially the taste was almost the same but the appearance caused another wave of giggles attracting the attention of the entire food park as they wonder what planet we are on. On The way home we stop off at a supermarket for more munchies and head back, crossing the path of a hoard of police. Daisy goes quiet and stares at the floor looking as guilty as they come while I strut past thinking I’m acting normal and blending in when really I’m about an inch taller than most of the women here, bright blond and have eyes two shades redder than my last batch of sunburn. We don’t blend well! After walking around so lost we debated vortex’s we finally make it back approaching the hostel from the opposite angle that we left it from! So officially mind-fucked we crawl in to bed and try to keep up with a basic film plot. Until we drifted in to a coma-like sleep and woke up with a mouth dryer than the surface of the desert.

The next day we decided we should venture a bit further than the end of the street, so gathered our possessions together to head to Praya Brava. Yet another over crowded beach where, afraid that we might burn, we went and sat under a hotel umbrella only to have the jobsworth guard come and actually take the umbrella from above our heads. Prick! So, determined to find some free shade we pitch up just to the side of a beach shack feeling pretty proud of our resourcefulness and throw occasional dagger eyes at the guard. A few hours of shade-bathing not wanting the sun to glisten off our white arses, and we head back to our neck of the woods. We realise the buses are not reliable and we spend 40 minuets sat on the side of the road trying to thumb a lift only to be totally ignored and have to wait for the bus anyway. By the time we made it back to Canasvieras we were ready for a return of the red eye. So we head down to our favourite food market and devour some serious amounts of sea food whilst bitching about how unreliable drug dealers are! I sneakily ask a few of the food vendors whose faces range from shock (apparently we don’t look like the usual clientele) to realisation as it dawns on them why you could hear our giggles echo the area yesterday. We score! A vendor sorts us out packing us off with smiles on our faces, only to bump in to the brownie man where we stock up.. again, unsure on how we have gone from complete non smokers to full time stoners in 24hrs. That night we definitely over did it and after putting the world to rights sat on a hill over looking the beach, we head back to the hostel one giant tub of ice cream in hand. The scattering of hippies we have to pass to make it to the safety of our dorm sing their hellos as we avoid eye contact and mumble half-arsed “holas” and quicken our pace. I beeline for the room praying nobody has checked in forcing me to do the routine pleasantries where are you from, going ..etc. I make it to the door having successfully avoided any conversation only for Daisy to shout that she’s getting spoons and disappear off. I have a moment of shock followed by admiration at her bravery to enter the packed kitchen alone. She comes back moments later looking like a damaged woman and tells me all about the minefield of eye contact she has navigated. We eat the whole tub of ice cream from the shadows of the garden wondering how unsociable we must look, to make matters worse we hurry back to the room put our towels over the bottom bunk making our own little cave and watch Bridget Jones’ Diary. Winning.

The next morning we pack up our bags and go to pay our bill only to be told it’s been paid already. Now either some kind stranger has decided to pay our bill or they have made a mistake. The first highly unlikely seeing as we haven’t strung two words together since we arrived here, so I check again.Now not wanting to ask three times we set off for our new hostel £10 up. We arrive at 11am and decide to munch our last brownie, unknowingly signing away our day right there. An hour later we are sat at an ‘all you can eat’ buffet surrounded by dirty plates and debating how many plates of dessert we can have without being judged. The answer is two. We then shuffle out in a low hum of giggles, make it halfway up the road and enter a very inviting looking cafe. We spend at least 4 hours in this place ordering Baileys coffees and banoffe pie wondering if the staff can tell that the two blondes sprawled out on the sofas with lazer beems for eyes are infact higher than the Tower of London. At about 4pm we start to feel the clouds lifting as our eyes return to their normal size and we sit watching The Lake.

Now after a hard day doing nothing I head for a massage. What a day. That evening we head down to the local square to eat our way round the market, we have some messy looking wraps that leak hummus down our chins (not a good look) whilst trying to hold a conversation in Spanish/Portuguese/English with our neighbours who are now officially put off ordering the wrap. Then just to solidify their assumption that we are stoned we walk off without paying. Finally we pay the tab and head back to the safety of our hostel vowing not to get high in the morning again.

The next morning waking up eyes glued together and realising we had stoneovers, we head out for a walk around the lagoon. Something we were told was easy to find. They obviously hadn’t met me and Daisy before. After walking for an hour we asked someone the way, only to find we had walked an hour in the wrong direction and had to go right back. So two hours of walking and we are still outside our hostel. So we cheat and get the boat over. Even the boat seems to take forever and the vibrations of the old motor struggling to carry our weight made my nose insanely itchy and I spent the entire journey pulling at it whilst the other passengers increased the distance between them and the crazy looking gringas. And after all that palaver the waterfall is just a dribble of water down a pile of rocks. We have definitely become spoilt, and don’t stay long before getting the boat back. More scratchy nose for me. Once back food is top of the agenda and we try to go to a restaurant that had been recommended and we had passed on our earlier detour. But after walking 30 minutes out of town we find the place and see that it’s far too expensive and we have to walk once again all the way back to town, grabbing a very late lunch and then sitting in our favourite cafe again. While devouring deserts and heading back to the hostel to smoke ourselves into comas, we awkwardly lie to our dormies about how great the walk was, too ashamed to admit our total lack of direction.

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.

Parting in Paraty

Next stop after carnival was Paraty a place a little further down the coast. Paraty is beautiful and less busy than Rio which was a welcome change. Despite this we still managed to check in to probably the busiest party hostel with a hoard of drunken Irish cheering at any given opportunity. They were very entertaining for a short while until there already thick accents became thicker as they slurred their words and one began rambling political contradictory bullshit to people who weren’t listening whilst his friend tried his hand at beatboxing spraying the unfortunate audience with spit whilst another tried desperately to control his drunken friends shushing then every few minuets. A girl then came from another table announcing “by the way your friend just got his dick out”. This was my cue for bed. Where I lay on a ridiculously high top bunk in an overly sweaty dorm cursing the Irish as their voices boomed through the walls making my earplugs feel like megaphones. The next morning and after a sweaty Muay Thai class I was happy to see our new friends check out, and with only two broken hours of sleep we got a bus to Trinidade a nearby beach town with breathtaking views and a natural water slide a short walk through the jungle.

Waiting for the bus after a lovely day we met a man with a puppy and the cutest kid ever that hung off me trying to communicate in broken Portuguese.

The next morning we must go our separate ways, setting off on a new adventure volunteering. Daisy will be in Ubatuba learning to surf and I will be in Boisucanga teaching English.

Bike rides in Baños

Baños has a small town feel to it buried high up in the mountains. The first night our hostel was lacking in dorm beds so we were upgraded to a private room and all for the same price as I cheekily suggested, proving my mum was always right when she said don’t ask and you won’t get. That night I ate a two course meal and drank half a bottle of wine, whilst Daisy sat across the table from me feeling ill but politely nodding along to my tipsy ramblings.

The next morning we rented bikes and set off on a 17km bike ride along a busy road with no helmets and in the pissing it down rain. We passed four beautiful waterfalls before arriving at Pailon del Diablo. Where we stared mesmerised as the crashing water resembled the flames of a fire and the spray the smoke rising in thick patterns before hitting the rocks. Now soaked to the skin from the ride we resembled drowned rats. And opted for a lift back in a pickup where we squelched in our shoes and my jeans felt at least two sizes smaller making me feel as though I had been sectioned in my own clothes.

Now absolutely starved we rode around town in search of some lunch. I got distracted by a veggie looking place, nearly dropped my bag, slammed on the brakes so hard that I nearly went over the handle bars. It Was a close shave but a great find of Avo burrito! So was totally worth the bruised shin.

That night we went to a vegetarian restaurant called Healthy Cafe the food was to die for. We ordered two different curries and both were amazing and even better washed down with a bottle of red. So now drunk, full and ranted out we stumbled home.

After an unproductive day we went for dinner in an amazing Spanish place Tascos! The tapas were amazing and all the surrounding tables, us and the owner friendlily conversed between courses. When we got back to the hostel we found the place a complete mad house, the already strange residents were even stranger with the addition of beer pong and brightly coloured wigs. They couldn’t understand us brits being sober and kept trying to pressure tequila shots on us, until we locked ourselves in a dark room and tried to watch a film that was intermittently interrupted by strange shadows opening the door.

The next morning we went to Casa Arbol for some not so high adrenaline but super cheep swings and zip lines. With lots of time to kill before our night bus we went for some Chinese massages where I was manoeuvred like a piece of meat being aggressively rubbed up. So now sufficiently tenderised we headed off to the city ready for our flight to the Galápagos Islands.

Quiet Quito

The journey to Ecuador was very eventful including a lost purse, a nights stay in a hotel you usually pay for by the hour, a recovered purse and a very long road they call trampoline of the dead. And rightly so as it’s so high up in the mountains their is absolutely no visibility and a huge mountain drop to one side. So narrow that when you meet oncoming traffic somebody’s reversing skills are seriously tested as they manoeuvre around blind corners dodging the fallen down trees and boulders.

A quick stop at Otavalo that we both agree was overpriced and the market not all it was hyped up to be. So after a quick walk around we got a local bus to Laguna San Pablo, we both agreed that although the lagoon was beautiful it would look better from above so instead of paying for a very bleak looking boat trip, we began scaling the closest mountain. Feeling pretty unfit as we finally reached the top panting and collapsing on the surrounding rocks.

We got back to town and jumped on a bus to Quito hoping to find some new friends, sick of the sound of each other’s voices after days of travelling. But instead ended up making an enemy in the owner of our hostel (bad) Vibes. The owner was the kind of person who moved and talked like he was constantly bored.

After our first night I work up eaten by bed bugs again! And when I politely took the owner to one side to let him know they had a problem he instantly accused me of lying despite the obvious evidence. Told me I probably had a skin condition and practically kicked us out threatening to blacklist us in the hostel world so no one would take us in. We left in a state of shock, walked around the corner and checked in to Colour house.

The owner was amazing and not only had all of our clothes washed, dried and back with us within hours , but also arranged our tours for us for the next day and all cheeper than Vibes.

That evening we went to the historical centre of town which is amazing! Beautiful building surround the local square filled with benches of content locals taking in their surroundings. We ate in Cafeteria Modelo a busy place where we tried some local classics. One of which being Locra a potato, cheese and avocado soup. It was lovely.

That night after sharing a giant beer us lightweights were drunk and stumbled home lost with the giggles.

Statues in San Agustin

So although the bus was still an hour late it almost felt early in comparison to the usual three hour late busses. We checked straight in to Casa De Nelly the prettiest hostel, where the owner was a cornucopia of information for our route to Ecuador, and the place instantly felt like home.

After a nice dinner in town, we set off on the walk uphill back to the hostel, only to have a pizza delivery guy who was conveniently driving there anyway offer us a lift. What luck! As I was drifting off that night I heard a kufufflae and muttering from Daisy’s direction. I looked over to see a very startled Daisy batting off a cricket that had landed on her face. The next morning, we left to get a bus to the local statues. But in luck again we ended up getting a lift on the back of a hostel workers bike whilst he set up some horses to meet us at the entrance. Where we galloped around the park with a tour guide explaining the history to us. All for the same price as the entry fee!

So another free ride to a local vegetarian restaurant Tomate and we enjoyed an amazing lunch, where we overfilled ourselves with unidentifiable great tasting veggies.

So now two very achey completely stuffed gringos walked back to the hostel where apparently our luck had ran out and we walked the whole way back arriving out of breath and sweaty. That evening we arranged a yoga class down the road where again we conveniently got a free ride. It was the kind of yoga my mums been trying to get me to go for years, all breathing and meditation. We had to avoid eye contact the whole time as a wave of the giggles threatened. This was especially difficult in the eye yoga! During one of the breathing exercises she asked if we had felt anything, I’m pretty sure a blocked nose was not the answer she was looking for (but the one I gave nonetheless). We left the yoga class confused at what had just happened and completely starved. We dined at Homosapians, another veggie place that served up some very quick tasty food.

Trying to get a taxi home in the downpour was a very serious task as we hovered in shop doorways trying desperately to flag down any vehicle in sight. The only one that stopped was an already full taxi. Despite this we loaded in with the complacent family, making 8 of us in there. We did manage to negotiate a discount based on the fact we didn’t even have one seat between us. We got back to the hostel soaked through and in a fit of giggles. And who do we see sat on the sofa… only our Aussie mate, I am now starting to believe he is a stalker. So a quick catch up and we all clamber in to bed trying to get some sleep but finding ourselves far too funny to stop firing comments across the room.