Praia Do Rosa – La Vie en Rose

Praia do Rosa got popular in the 70´s thanks to surfers, who discovered its beauty looking for new and unspoiled spots.
This little village, located between Garopaba and Imbituba (70km south from Florianopolis) is surrounded by unique natural beauty: desserted beaches, lagoons, hills and dunes. Most importandly, between June and November, its coast is visited by Ballena Franca Austral ( Southern Right Whale), which comes there every year to breed, feed and take care of their newborns. We were told, that the whales could be watched from the beach and they often got really close to the surfers.

gaviotas praia do luz - praia do rosa

In Praia do Rosa it is permitted to build maximum two-stry houses and the landscape organization is controlled by the authorities.
In April there were not many people visiting the area. It was very quiet and the prices were much more accesible. We treated ourself with a private little house with a kitchen, and bikes that we could use as much as we wanted.
After 2 month break, riding a bike made me the happiest man in the village. It was wonderful to feel the wind on my face again and to be able to go anywhere I wanted.
We spent our days ridding the bikes,  exploring local  areas, and enjoying the beaches.
Praia do Rosa was one of the most spectacular ones. It was named “pink” because, with the right weather conditions, when the sun sets, both the sea and the sky turn pink. Each evening, I would sit there, hoping to see what the beach is soo famous for, but I never got lucky to witnessed this spectacular phenomenon…

praia do Ouvidor - praia do rosa

The beach of Ouvidor was one of my favourites. I discovered it hiking the costal hills. It was peaceful, natural and unspoiled. I walked alond, and came across three little fisherman huts, and suddenly found myself surrounded by cows peacefully fedding with the greenest grass growing on the  sunny hills right by the ocean.

praia do rosa

para do luz trilha - praia do rosa

Praia do Luz, where one of the numerous lagoons of the area joines with the ocean is the beach I will necer forget. There were planty of fisherman with their handmade nets, catching fish from the shore.  The sand was so hard, that it was possible to ride bikes on the beach surface. We would go right into the water and ride throgh the waves of th ocean! It was insane!!

fisherman - praia do luz

fisherman gaviotas para do luz- praia do rosa

That was how we spent our days there – enjoying every hour of it, absorbing the peacefulness of the place.  Then, all of a sudden, a Circus arrived to town. They raised their tent in the main street, and immediately, a queue of kids formed.
We could not resist either! We bought the tickets and waited to see “the best chilean clows and acrobats”! It tourned out to be a family circus, where everyone was doing everything, including baby-sitting a little girl, when her parents were preforming.
It was amazing to see this traditional, old fashioned way of entertaining the audience, prooving, that the real circus has not died yet!!
Unexpectatly I was drugged in to the stage, my eyes covered with a scarf … I had no choice but participate. I was not sure what was happening, couldn see anything at all, and didn´t understand much…but all kids were laughing histerical, so I must have been doing  a good job.  Surely ” the best chilean clowns” made a fool out of me that night, but it  felt good to know, that I made all those kids happy!

the circus - clowns praia do rosa

At the end of the show, one of the circus members came to talk to us and offered us to join them. We would learn from them,  perform our own tricks, and tour with the circus caravana for as long as we wanted.
I was not sure if it was a serious offer, or just another of their ” chilean” jokes, but we were realy tempted for a while! I guess the magic of the circus put its spel upon us too! Eventualy we decided to continue our own journey and see wht it brings next!

goats - praia do rosa

fishing lagoa de ibiraquera - praia do rosa

 

 

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Ilha de Santa Catarina – Florianopolis

I heard a lot about Florianopolis. Some people told me it was a paradise with over 100 beaches, others advised not to bother going there. It’s one of those places, where Brazilians like to spend their holidays – a favourite summer destination of all, from Cariocas to Paulistas. I was not sure what to expect. Would it be like Costa del Sol in Spain?

One thing I learnt while travelling is, that it is good to listen to the opinions of others, but you never really know what a place is like, until you go there, and experience it for yourself. We decided to give Floripa a go, and we were proved, that this place was not overrated.

From the land, the bus brought us over a bridge, straight to the main city of the island – Florianopolis. It looked like a typical Brazilian metropolis with high buildings, motorways, banks and shopping molls. It even had its own university and an international airport.

The island turned out to be bigger than we expected. There were plenty of places to stay and visit, and a variety of landscape to admire. On top of that, within just  few kilometres, people lived completely different lives, from simple fishermen to great mansion owners.

At first, we weren’t exactly sure, in which neighbourhood we preffered to stay, but a chubby, heavy-metal-loving tourist assistant clarified, that we would have rather wanted to stay in the central part of the island, unless we wished to die of boredom. Since we really didn’t know any better at the time, we decided to take his advice. Even though he had a totally different perception of “boring”,  it turned out, that his advice was not bad at all. With Floripa’s public transport organisation, it would have been a living hell, to travel around the island, if we had stayed in the north or south. For some reason, public buses didn’t connect one side of the island with the other. They would only go to terminals of neighbouring districts. To get from the south to the north, one needed to change five or six times!

Our camping was located right next to Lagoa da Conceição. It wasn’t a dream spot, because there was a busy road right behind the fence, but what we discovered later, compensated the inconvenience. We were staying right next to an extensive sand dune. One of the first things we did, was to climb the sandy mountain, to see where it led. What we found on top of it was unimaginable.  All we could see around was clean, fine sand forming smaller and larger hills.

We started climbing them, jumping and playing with the sand. It felt great; we could not get enough of it. According to the map, the dune led to one of Floripa’s most popular surf beaches Praia da Joaquina. We decided to look for them, but we did not realise what a long walk we were signing up for. After 40 minutes of jumping and playing, we got hot and tired. All we could see around was sand.  At that moment, I thought, that this was what walking through a desert must feel like.

Finally, we saw something on the horizon. It was an enormous sand mountain, and it looked as if hundreds of ants were climbing it. When we got closer, we realised, that these were people sliding down with sandboards and slides. We wanted to get closer, but there was a chain of bushes, and deep paddles separating us from it. It turned out to be a real quest to get through. It required backtracking, jumping, and cutting through the sharp, tall grass. Once we crossed it, we were reworded with an unforgettable view. From the top of the sand mountain, we could see an incredible landscape: the dunes, and Lagoa da Conceição on one end, and a long beach of Joagiona on the other.

In the north of the island, there is a neighbourhood called Jurerê, which the islanders proudly call Miami of Brazil. We went to see it, with a lot of expectations. We did see some really expensive houses and 5 stars resorts, but the truth is: it’s a very long way from there to Miami!  It’s beaches are known and appreciated for its calm, worm waters. We did not have much luck to enjoy the bath, though. For some reason, the four kilometers long beach was literally covered with dead fish, some fresher than the others, some already half eaten by birds, some eyeless… It looked like some kind of a futuristic battlefield, and smelled like it too.

On the southern part of the island, we found a totally different environment and lifestyle. It was less touristy, and much more authentic. People live in small communities, supporting themselves mainly by fishing. Someone told us about a unique trekking spot in a village called Pantano do Sul. For an hour, we climbed a forested hill, to finally reach a beautiful deserted beach.

There was a lake, which joined with the sea when the tide was up, creating a very unusual landscape. Surfers and hippies came all the way there to build their camps in a little forest behind the sand dunes, and for a few days, disconnected from the outside world, to fish, or simply enjoy the surf and the nature.

It took us almost a week of exploration, before we discovered our favourite place on the island. One day we decided to follow a road by the Lagoa da Conceiçã . It led through a high hill with most amazing views, and pass some of the island’s most popular surf beaches Mole and Galheta.

We walked, untill we reached a place, where a river joins with the lagoa. Barra da Lagoa was an authentic fisherman village. Everything seemed to be about fishing there. There were boats, and bikes, and cars adjusted to transport fish. There were men fishing, cleaning fish, selling fish, and preparing their fishing nets everywhere you look. It felt great to sit there, and just watch everyone calmly following their daily routine.

We spent quite a while sitting by the little port and just stearing at people. It was a warm sunny day, so we finally decided to move on, and look for a beach.  And there, we found something we did not expect at all. This storry, however, desserves its own space and will be written soon!

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Ilha do Mel

“When was the last time I set my foot on a small island like this one?” – I asked myself when I first saw Ilha do Mel on the horizon.

We were going there by boat, and the journey was short, but very pleasant. On board, there were only two more passengers, the sun was shining, and views were spectacular.

The island we were heading to was quite unusual. As far as the progress of civilization is concerned, it stayed behind, and is not looking to catch up. There is no concrete, no cars, no roads. The three “villages” of the island (Fortaleza on the north, Encantadas on the south, and Brasilia in the centre) are connected by few forest paths, or by beach. The only available means of transport is a bicycle or a wheelbarrow. Optionally, you can take a boat to move from one part of the island to another. It is mainly nature that surrounds you there. There is not much land to cultivate. Local people live in small wooden huts, connected by tiny sand paths.

On the entire island, there are only three small shops that provide basic products, food, and drinking water, one school and a hospital. Every here and there, you can find a phone box, or a post box. Surprisingly, for being such a small community, the islanders constructed plenty of churches and football pitches.

A significant part of the island is not only uninhabited, but it is considered dangerous and inaccessible. It has been turned into a natural reserve of vegetation and wild animals, and even the locals try not to go there. We have been told that once,1000 Brazilian soldiers were sent to inspect the uninhabited territory and 100 of them got lost. Apparently, at certain point, their compasses stopped working and they had to seek help from local fishermen.

Ilha do Mel may not exactly be a place where inventions of modern technology make everyday life easier. It feels like time stopped there. It didn’t stop tourists from visiting, though. During our stay, due to the low season, it seemed a bit deserted, but still we had no doubts, that tourism was what keeps this place going.

We called at a little port of Brasilia, and we saw a tourist information right in front of us. Anderson, a guy who worked there, told us about the accommodation options. There were plenty. Later on, we discovered, that every second house on the island was a hotel or a camping, whereas almost every household offered a room to rent.

We were looking for a camping and he recommended one, quite far away from where we were. With our backpacks on, we had to fallow a small path leading through the forest. It was an exhausting half an hour walk, but it was worth the sweating. The place was situated right by the sea, so we could eat our breakfast on the beach, and every night, we would fall asleep with a soothing sound of breaking waves.

On top of that, soon we discovered that we became close neighbours with Anderson, the guy from the tourist information. He was renting a hut from the two brothers – owners of the camping. It was nice to make friends with someone who had all the important information about the island. He told us, for example, that when the electricity was brought, most people moved to the areas where it was possible to connect it, and formed the villages, but three families stayed in the reserve and still live there. There is a church, where the first marriage on the island was solemnised.

We were really keen on exploring the wilder parts of the island, but Anderson warned us, that even though it seemed easy, it was not always possible. Without knowing the place well, we could have been trapped between the beaches. If the tie went up, we could have been forced to go into the see and swim, or to walk into the forest. On top of that, there was a risk of coming across a dangerous snake or caiman.

In fact, the place was full of snakes. We were told, that there was a cobra that always came to the camping. Everyone knew it. It could be spotted on trees, or simply moving around the houses and tents. Every day we were aware of its presence, luckily, we newer saw it. One of the brothers showed us the skin it once dropped by his house. He had to raise his hand high above his head to present its fool length, and the tail was still on the ground. The cobra was far over 2 meters long!

It felt good to be surrounded by all this natural beauty. One day I walked out of the tent and saw a hummingbird sipping nectar from a flower right in front of me. We admired some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets. For the first time, we went into a beach cave.

boat

What turned out to be interesting too, was to see how people lived. There isn’t much to do on the island. Life is simple, but good. Many people live their lives following an uncomplicated daily routine. They go fishing, take care of their households, eat, surf and rest. Before the sunset, the guys from our camping would simply go to the beach, pick some fresh mussels, and cook them with tomato and pasta for supper.

I must say, that the peacefulness and simplicity of this lifestyle was tempting. Watching those people made me wonder why most of us still choose to rush, stress, and consume. Soon I had my answer. There was one thing that made my life on this island absolutely unbearable. One tiny thing that I would never be able to accept. Mosquitos!

They were everywhere. They would start attacking around 5PM, right before the sunset, and bite every uncovered part of my body (due to the weather condition most of the parts of my body would be uncovered). There were millions of them. They were restless. They were quick like a jet … and they wouldn’t react to any sort of insect bite protection. After two days my skin was covered with mosquito bites. I had them in the most unusual places. I was constantly itching. We soon realized that the only way to deal with it, was to go to sleep at 6 in the afternoon. One night, I stayed up longer to hang out with Anderson and his friends from the island. I put all my warm clothes on, and covered as much as I only could. The mosquitos were still biting me through my jeans. They were even biting my face: the nose, eye leads, lips…  I could not believe, that all the guys were sitting there, in their trunks, right next to me. I didn’t find enough courage to ask them the key question.  I figured, there were two possible explanations. Either they were used to being bitten, or it was my fresh blood, that drove those miniature vampires crazy.

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Rio de Janeiro – Copacabana & Ipanema

We dedicated our second day in Rio to walking along the massive beaches of the city. Copacabana is probably the most famous beach in the world. Ipanema, on the other hand, became widely known by the song “The Girl from Ipanema” (“Garota de Ipanema”) written by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinícius de Moraes.

Over the years, it has become an icon of Rio, representing the magnificence and splendor of the metropolis. A Brazilian friend told us that Copacabana was a place where the human drive for perfection of the body reached its highest standards, and there we should expect to see the sexiest people in Brazil. With anticipation and… a small dose of insecurity… we put on our bathing suits, and headed off to confront the elite of the elite.

What we encountered was not at all what we’ve imagined. First of all, people seemed pretty average, not a trace of ladies sunbathing topless (such a common view nowadays at European beaches) no muscular lifeguards, no extraordinary beauty whatsoever… just some tourists, parents with kids, fisherman… Frankly, the only place where someone seemed to care a bit more about their “beach image” was the gay section of Ipanema.

Instead we saw a lot of things that we did not expect at all. At Copacabana, large areas of the ocean were so contaminated with floating rubbish, that it was impossible to bath there. Still some determined swimmers were brave enough to literally paddle through the dirty water with their arms. In the middle of Ipanema, we also saw a large digger distributing some fresh sand over an old layer of the beach.

Despite of that, Ipanema and Copacabana are beautiful and quite unique. Thanks to their location, it is not just the usual plain horizon that you see from the shore. There are several islands and mountains that decorate the vast blue ocean, and it is an incredible view.

I have to admit, that I liked Ipanema more than Copacabana. I don’t know why exactly, but the water was amazing, extremely clean. It had a lovely deep color and strong waves, that would drug you in and spin you over if you were not careful enough. We walked along the beach, up to the point where the Lagoa Rodrigo de Feiras flows into the ocean. I saw several sardines left on the sand by the strong current. They were jumping hopelessly. I picked them up and threw them back into the sea!

When the sun went down, Copacabana changed completely. It felt like everyone was there. The bars filled up with people and music. The beach was illuminated, and the sand turned into a perfect ground to practice all kinds of sports. I cannot tell how many people were playing football, volleyball or just working out in open-air gyms that night. On the promenade, people would ride bikes, skateboards, rollerblades, or simply run or walk.

That is when we were proved that Cariocas (the Portuguese name for native inhabitants of Rio) are indeed concerned about their body shape and fitness. I was also impressed, how they managed to make the best of the beach, and I felt a bit jealous, that we don’t do it back home in Barcelona.

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Rio de Janeiro – Cristo Redentor

We arrived to Rio de Janeiro after 24 hours spent on a bus. It was the longest bus ride of my life! I was very exited to finally visit the city that is considered the most popular in South America. A Portuguese navigator – Gaspar de Lemos – discovered Guanabara Bay in January 1502. He mistook the bay for a river and named it Rio de Janeiro. Rio was the capital of independent Brazil until Brasilia took over in 1960.

We dropped our backpacks in the hostel and went straight to see the Cristo Redentor. The famous statue is located on top of Corcovado mountain (700 meters high) in the middle of Tijuca National Park. Cristo Redentor, with his welcoming outstretched arms, is 30 meters high and was rised in 1922 to commemorate the 100 years of independence of Brazil. It is considered the largest Art Deco statue and the 5th largest statue of Jesus in the world

There are different ways to get to the top of Corcovado. The most common one is by cute, old train that takes you straight to the feet of the statue. We got there in the afternoon though, and unfortunately all the tickets were sold out for that day, so we had no choice but taking a van ride. The good thing about it was that it stopped half way up and we could take a while to admire the views of the city and the statue itself. The good thing about getting there late was that we could see the sunset. The play of light was unforgettable and within an hour we could see the statue and the city change completely. The way up to the mountain is spectacular. I admit that I did not know much about Rio. I read a bit right before getting there but the truth is I did not know what to expect.

On the way up, looking threw the window of the van, I started creating my own image of the city. There is nature, a beautiful landscape of a green, tropical country: unlimited waters of the ocean and its beaches, Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, Pão de Açúcar (two mountains connected by cable cars above Bahia de Guanavara), and there is this massive concrete jungle that grew there over the years. Those two worlds are crashing together in a unique way, creating a place that is beautiful and ugly at the same time. From the top of Corcovado we admired undisturbed 360 degree view of the city and the coast. The statue of  Cristo is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World and it is impressive, but frankly I was expecting something else, something better.

We wondered where the real source of magnificence lies. Is it the enormous concrete monument itself or the divine greatness it refers to, that makes people from all over the world climb the hill, open their arms, and look towards the city of Rio? We did not manage to answer that, but surely it is worth going all the way up there just to observe this amazing scenario and keep a picture of it in your head for the rest of your life!

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Porto de galinhas – Natural Pool!

Porto de Galinhas is considered one of the best beaches in Brazil. What makes it different from the others are the natural pools created between the rocks and fill up with the sea water. When the tie is low they can be accessed by boat and dived for amazing views of coral reefs and millions of colourful fishes. We learnt from a local sailor that one of the pools has a shape of Brazil and it can only be seen and accessed at full moon. Here are some photos I took during this trip.

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Salvador da Bahia – Heart of Africa in Brazil

Salvador da Bahia is the first colonial capital of Brazil, the city is one of the oldest in the Americas. The African influence in many cultural aspects of the city makes it the center of Afro-Brazilian culture. This is something you can feel when you walk along the little roads in Pelourinho – historic center of the city. Pelourinho is a very beautiful place. It was named a world cultural center by UNESCO in 1985. The area has a lot of pretty old squares and little roads and offers numerous artistic and musical attractions. It was a nice surprise to see a policeman in every road and every corner, that made us feel very safe.

In one of the main squares of the city – Largo de Pelourinho – there was a shop that caught my attention. The shop was really small and it was all about Michael Jackson. I walked in to see what they had and surprisingly this old man had any single item you can imagine related with the King of Pop.
I spotted a little TV in one of the corners of that shop and I watched a Michel Jackson music video that was filmed in that very square we were at. The famous song was they don’t really care about us!

Enjoy it: 

The center of Salvador is on top of a hill and the the view is impressive! You can see the old market, the port, part of the bay and the islands. In Bahia I tried for the first time a very typical Brazilian drink called Caldo de Cana. This drink is made from a sugar cane. They have those rudimentary machines that crash and smash the sugar cane and you drink the juice that comes out of it. The liquid has a greenish color and the first sip I had it tasted like root from a plant after this first flavor a sweet taste came to my mouth. People say it has a lot of vitamins and it is very good for you. Personally, I did not like it much.

Salvador is well known for its music. We wanted to find a nice place where we could see a music show. We asked a guy who worked at the hostel where to go. He told us about a local bar that he goes sometimes that has live music.
When we walked into this little bar, every single person was dancing and the atmosphere was incredible. Everybody was having a lot of fun and enjoying the music. The place felt very local, somewhere where tourists normally do not go and where everyone knows each other.
We enjoyed every single note the band played and every single step the crowd danced. The band that was playing was formed by four musicians even though sometimes a random lady was joining them on stage to play percussion with a cheese garter!
The last song of the night was sang by the drunkest guy in the bar. The musicians gave him the microphone and he sang a well known Brazilian song while the crowed laughed and danced. That was a perfect way to end up the night!

Enjoy the song:  

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Itaparica and Itacaré

In  1549, Portugal established the city of Salvador, on a hill facing the Bay of All Saints. Bahia served as the religious capital of Portugal’s colonies in the Americas. Charles Darwin visited Bahia in 1832 on his famous voyage on the Beagle. Below you will find some photos of this gorgeous region.

ITACARÉ

ITAPARICA

south america photo continues!!

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Olinda – La ciudad linda

Little colourful roads full of tiny old houses is what makes Olinda a beautiful and unforgettable place in Brasil. Even though it is a coastal town all that its grey shore has to offer is a small dirty beach and sharks!

Maybe this is why Olinda´s citizens take particular care to keep the town clean and beautiful. It even feels like they compete with each other to paint their houses with the most original and eye-catching colour combination.Olinda

The ambience attracts a great number of artists and craftsman and the streets are full of Ateliers and workshops selling local folk paintings and sculptures.

Olinda is also famous for its carnival. It offers an alternative, form of celebration – more local and folkloristic.

The town is located on small but numerous hills. Alto do sé  – the highest one- offers incredible views. There is a lift that takes you even higher up – to a platform from which you can see the entire town, the ocean and the skyscrapers of Recife. In the evenings the square of Alto do sé fills up with street stalls selling traditional local food (mainly tapioca with all sorts of toppings) and drinks. Olinda church

Tapioca is a kind of pie made of corn that you can fill with many ingredients. With great expectations I ordered a prawn-filled one it seemed tasty until I took a bite…then I realized that the prawns were not peeled! I didn’t understand if they really like the prawns like that or simply they feel lazy to peel them…

There are hippies selling handmade jewellery and young people showing capoeira and playing live music. All this happening right in front of the second oldest church in Brasil (1537).

SOUTH AMERICA PHOTO: Olinda

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