One of the oddest effects of extended travel is how it alters your perspective of time. In my life back home in the States, a day was a long period of time. A lot happened in a day… 8 hours of work, 3 scheduled meals, 1 workout, and perhaps a couple of hours of socializing with friends. At the end of the day, I was exhausted.
Now a day is nothing. A day could be spent just moving from one location to another, just talking with friends on the beach, or just riding a motorcycle around an island. A lot can be accomplished in a week, but not in a day.
My new perspective of time was epitomized by the 5 weeks I spent living in the Brazilian paradise known as Florianópolis, or “Floripa” as the locals call it. Those 5 weeks flew by in a flash, and all I have to show for it is a tan, a couple hundred photos, great memories, and dozens of new friends from Brazil and abroad. It may not sound like much to you, but to me it’s a bounty.
Floripa is general considered the most livable place in all of Brazil. It has abundant natural beauty, 42 beaches (including some of the best surfing beaches in the country), low crime, beautiful people, delicious seafood, good weather, lively nightlife, and a perfect size of around 400,000 inhabitants. You know a place is special when even cariocas, people from Rio, get jealous of you for living there. Five weeks is certainly a long time to devote to one place when taking a traveling sabbatical, but if any place in the world deserves it, it’s Floripa.
I was transported around this little island paradise by a 125cc black Honda motorcycle that got such good mileage that I only filled the tank every couple of weeks. We became very good friends.
It didn’t take me long to figure out the best dish to order there… camarão ao óleo e alho (shrimp cooked in olive oil and garlic.) Floripa is known for its fresh shrimp and oysters, and even dive bars there serve it up to perfection.
Floripa is known as a haven for outdoor adventure sport enthusiasts. They have just about every warm-weather adventure sport imaginable: hang gliding, paragliding, sand boarding, surfing, kite surfing, windsurfing, and more. I had a few kite surfing lessons there but fortunately there are no photos to document my epic wipe outs.
And then there are the parties… Floripa has a very distinct high season during the Brazilian summer, starting in mid-December and ending after Carnival in March, during which time the population swells 3x to around 1.2M people. Brazilians flood in from São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, Rio Grande do Sul, etc. and are joined by gringos from Australia, the US, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Germany, and elsewhere. The high-end clubs make most of their profits for the year during this period and there is definitely a South Beach-like vibe. During the week of New Years, the top clubs charge up to R$600 (around $350 USD) just to get through the door. You can imagine the kind of cars that are parked outside.
After spending so long in Floripa, I got a flavor for not only what it’s like to visit, but to live there as well. I arrived in late November before the high season began and spoke with lots of locals about their lives there, so I also have a good idea what it’s like during the rest of the year. Other than the difficulty in finding work there and a short but somewhat chilly winter, it really does seem like paradise. Floripa is one of those special places that will always hold a piece of my heart.