I’m now 34,000 feet over the Amazon on my flight home. Bye bye, Brazil. Hello wintry America.
The last few days, which were spent in the resort area of Santa Catarina Island, Brazil, were pretty uneventful – exact as I planned. I went to the beach a few times, did a little shopping, rocked in a hammock outside my room.
On Thursday I took my one and only tour of the whole trip. It was a seven-hour boatride to an island that is a kind of preserve. The boat ride took 90 minutes each way — and I’m glad I took Dramamine because it got bumpy. Amazed no one got sick on the boat.
Anyway the four hours on Campeche Island wasn’t nearly enough for me. The green waters reminded me of Thailand, and I think I had a hard time capturing the real beauty of it with my camera. I signed up for a 90-minute hike to see archeological sites, but mostly I just wanted to see the other side of the island. The tour guide spoke only Portuguese so I had to guess at what he was saying. Basically, people who lived on the island 5,000 years ago did some cool rock art.
In the end, the Florianopolis experience was damned relaxing. And the inn I stayed at should be Four Star Diamond on the strength of the wonderful propriator, Ida. I felt like the $50 a night I paid was robbery – me robbing her! That included an amazing breakfast of fresh fruit, bread, cheese, yogurt and juice. I’ll miss the fruit for sure, such as the guava Ida grows and harvests herself. The name of the place, if you should ever go, is Pousada Marujo.
And now comes the final thoughts, the things I’ll remember about the people and places I found in this first – and hopefully not last – trip to Brazil:
- People warn you about the crime, but really it’s the same as anywhere else – there are some tough parts where you just have to be careful and not stupid. A couple of people bugged me, but I just shrugged them off and kept walking.
- I love the local buses. But travelers be warned: Not even the special airport buses are built to accommodate luggage. Makes no sense.
- Meat is king in Brazil. Well, meat and fruit. Veggies not so much. It was hard to try to eat healthy in a place overflowing with bread, cheese and sweet, sugary drinks.
- If you’re lucky enough to really meet actual Brazilians, you will come away a better person. They’re fun-loving, smart and full of a love for their country, and their soccer team.
- My trip took place in the middle of February, which is late summer on the bottom half of the world. That means heat, and lots of it. I’m fairly sure I didn’t have a night when it got below 75 degrees F. And several days had heat index levels over 100. In my 12 nights of lodging, I had air-conditioning only for the first two. That meant a fan for 10 nights, and with that kind of heat, a fan just can’t cut it. If come here in summer again, I will have to book rooms with AC.
- This is a great place to go if you want to avaid other Americans! I only ran into them when I went to the most famous attractions in Rio. On the boat trip to Campeche, there were four of us Americans on a boat with 40 or 50 people. Only 13 percent of Brazil’s foreign tourists come from the U.S. And that’s too bad, because they’re missing out.
With the World Cup coming to Brazil next year, and the Olympics two years after that, I’m guessing more Yanks will visit and fall in love with the place like I did.