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.

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.

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.

Hangovers in Huanchaco

After a night bus to Huanchaco we arrived spaced out and sleep deprived. So now starved and needing a coffee hit we headed off in search of somewhere to fit the bill. Some fruit and coffee later and we decided to head to Chan Chan an archeological sight near by. Safe to say it was not our cup of tea and without a guide to explain what we were looking at we ended up just discussing in depth what out next tattoos would be whilst wandering aimlessly and taking funny photos.

Which was not a good idea and just ended with us being escorted out.

That night we were surround by pissed up surfers and decided if you can’t beat em join em… this was a bad idea as hours later after rounds of blind Jenga we were loaded in to a taxi by a rather sensible 18 year old who wanted to make sure we got home ok. Despite this we only managed to stay in the taxi for a few seconds before we bundled out horrified by the price. And opted for a stagger home instead only stopping to devour burgers with the locals looking pretty classy with mayonnaise down our chins and Daisy’s bleeding knee. The next morning feeling like I had just been dragged out of a lamas arse and with a serious case of dry mouth I just about managed to drag myself out to the balcony. So I could die with a nice view at least.

That day was spent staring off at the walls of various cafes as we ate like bottomless pits, swearing we will never drink again.

Next stop Huaraz for some mountain treks!

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.

Glorious Galápagos Islands

Well what can I say the Galapagos are everything I thought and more. I constantly feel like I am staring in a nature program but I have yet to perfect my David Attenbourr voice.

The early boat was like a giant sleepover as we were lulled to sleep by the calm of the ocean. And within minuets of stepping off the boat here you are surrounded by sunbathing sea lions and crabs and lizards by the dozen. In the bay the odd penguin pops up to say hello.

The lonely planet describes the Galapagos as the only place on earth you can have a staring competition with wild animals and loose and boy were they right. You are so outnumbered by fearless wildlife you feel exactly as you should, a visitor.

On Tortuga beach the sand is white and the sea a clear blue as the waves come out they bring with them swarms of baby sharks in water no deeper than my ankles. Turning to face land you see proud iguanas parading down the sand unfazed by our presence. The rocks are covered with bright red crabs and there are sea lions on every bench peir and empty boat throughout the islands.

A trip to a lagoon and you watch birds soar on the waters surface to catch their prey as the fish dance out of the water taunting them.

Snorkelling in even the closest bays and you come face to face with giant sea turtles gliding along elegantly so close you could touch them, and sea lions playfully pivoting around the piers.

Waves crash against the majestic remains of volcanoes out at sea. The water trickling between the cracks and flocks of birds rest here between meals. Every glimmer in the ocean has your head snapping round as you catch a glimpse of a rays signature wave or a turtle rising for breath.

Under every rocky cave lurk schools of sharks. The penguins dart through your line of vision teasingly too fast to keep your eyes on. It feels like a scene off Finding Nemo as the colourful fish go about their day seemingly unfazed by our presence.

Pelicans sour above us at all times and these animals can all be found side by side looking like the oddest gang you’ve ever seen. The island itself looks like something straight out of a cartoon with dark volcanic rocks, mangroves, huge cactuses, lava tunnels and craters the size of entire towns.

The cars slow down and drive around the giant hundreds of years old tortoise, giving them the respect they rightfully deserve.

Patty house the cheapest accommodation we could find is just out of town but Patty herself is lovely and like a kind aunt she advised and arranged our days for us, sending us off on her selection of death trap bikes. We must be known on the island as the two blond boy racers always cycling in circles on squeaky bikes calling for directions to town… again.

In the evening a street not far from town is teeming with life as the restaurants join their tables and chairs together in two long columns occupying the whole road and dish out some of the best seafood! Entire fishes, giant paella’s and mountains of shellfish at decent prices mean we have dined like kings and every day here feels the luckiest on earth.

We have only been here four days and we haven’t wanted to even blink scared we will miss something incredible.

Cruising in Cartagena

That nights sleep was awful as two Asians came in at 1am talking in their normal daytime voices, rudely awakening us two old ladies who enjoy our mornings far too much to abuse the routine imposed by our former jet lagg. As if that wasn’t bad enough they then woke up at 6am only an hour before our designated wake up time stealing our last precious hour of sleep. Throwing around their clothes, muttering to each other, going in and out the room, dropping various items from the top bunk on to my head and being a general nuisance. Now I like to think I’m a very patient sane person but at this point I fully wanted to loose my shit and was mentally composing all the different abusive sentences appropriate for this situation, but instead opted for seething silence with the odd sigh and angry glance. Finally realising it was better just to get up, have breakfast and head off early to our planned boat trip to Playa Blanca. The thing was a shambles from the get go as we waited at the harbour no idea which of the many boats was ours, turns out the smallest most pathetic looking boat with the broken life jackets was in fact ours. Proving sometimes your better off just paying the extra £2.50! But even so we naively piled on with the local Colombian tourists happy to have saved some change. A pervy looking guy clambers on saying hello to me and Daisy. I indiscreetly ignore him and turn to Daisy saying the word creep. Meet our tour guide, full of cheesy jokes and lingering stares. So first stop on the agenda some islands about an hour away, the journey went seemingly well lulling is in to a false sense of optimism! When we got to the islands we were informed that we had two options, pay £10 and enter an animal prison/aquatic show or go snorkelling which was not free as we had been led to believe. We chose the second option and reluctantly paid up. We drifted about in the waves with a horde of distressed excited Colombians all pointing awe struck at the few fish we hadn’t scared off. A pile up back on the boat and we headed off to Playa Blanca. This is where it all went tits up quiet literally as we felt like we were on a scene from titanic! A child sat right behind us screamed continuously the entire 40 minuet journey, the woman in front of us threw up over the side of the boat whilst me and Daisy exchanged disgusted glances and winced away our mouths pressed firmly shut! Just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse the boat slammed down on a huge wave and the old lady up front fainted causing a wave of panic as the surrounding passengers squirted water in her face. Another child then decided this was the perfect moment to start being sick too! Arriving all in one piece Playa Blanca was beautiful but overcrowded to the point of being uncomfortable. The trip back was even more turbulent and the whole trip felt overrated and a waste of a tenner. Once back it was a rushed trip to the bus station where we inhaled some cheep food and bought the cheepest bus tickets we could find. Which meant we weren’t sitting together, we sat together anyway causing us great anxiety the entire 15 hour journey as we expected to have to move. We finally piled off in Medellin sleep deprived, with crooked necks and starving but having avoided any confrontation regarding the seat! Winner!