Friday, May 31, 2013

Pantano do Sul

So, here I am in Brazil.

My adventure began before I even left New York, though. Sunday night I checked to confirm my Monday-morning flight, only to find out that it had been moved up to Sunday night. As I was not at JFK ready to board, this was not going to happen. A call to TAM and then a call to my travel agent later, it was fixed, with a new departure time of Monday night.

So, Monday night I take off, don't sleep at all, and land in Rio. All I can report from Rio is that the air smells very nice, and that customs was no issue at all. Then it was on to Florianopolis on a regional jet - although I was surprised because it was an Airbus, not an Embraer, which is stupid, because not all American airlines use Boeings, right? Three buses later I was on the beach at Pantano do Sul checking into my hostel, followed by showering, eating, and napping.

My second day was comprised mostly of grading, as I had a deadline, broken up only by a walk along the beach. Song of the day: "The tide goes in, the tide goes out, the tide plays pinochle on your snout."
On the third day I hiked the trail to Lagoinha do Leste, a beach reachable only on foot. It's named for the s-shaped lagoon you see in the photo, which isn't visible from the beach itself. To get this shot, I had to hike up a nice little hill which, unlike the ones you can see here, is not tree-covered. It's, uh, possible that I may have gotten lost on the way down, and may have entertained dark thoughts about breaking my leg, while "Call Me Al" ran through my head, but if I did do that, I wouldn't admit that here where my mom could read it.

This morning I went in search of an ATM so I can pay my hostel bill. The ATM was having issues (I wasn't the only customer having problems), and it appears to have recorded two transactions, only one of which actually gave me money. I don't look forward to fighting the bank about this. I went for another beach walk, and then I figured out why my laptop has been vibrating - apparently the power supply isn't grounded. Splendid! I have work to do that requires my laptop, although, uh, blogging isn't part of that work. Also, I was feeling sorry for myself; I am tired of conversations that are short, difficult, and instrumental. Also, I'm used to doing capoeira in the evenings. Also, I miss having someone massage my shoulder when it is acting up. Today's theme song: Marinheiro So.

Tomorrow, I have no idea what I am doing. Watching my laptop explode, maybe? Going for another hike? Eating badly? (You have no idea. I'm reverting to how I eat when I am camping. Food, that's a whole other post.) Then Sunday, it'll be on to the metropolis.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Brasssssil, here I come*

In less than two weeks I leave for a month and a half in Brazil!

I will be spending my time in Florianopolis. (If you know your Brazilian geography, skip to the next paragraph.) It's in the state of Santa Catarina, in the far south of the country. Only one state, Rio Grande do Sul, is south of it. To the north is Parana. The Atlantic Ocean is to the east, and the tiny west border is shared with a thin finger of Argentina, with Paraguay on the other side of it. The city of Florianopolis is on an island, and it is the capital.

It's not necessarily the logical place to go (although it's not some obscure backwater I'm ultra-cool for discovering). Obviously, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo are the biggest tourist destinations in Brazil. Most capoeristas travel to Salvador, the stronghold of capoeira. And more adventurous types head off into the Amazon rain forest. Floripa is actually fairly popular among South American travelers. It's known for its nightlife and surfing. If you know me, well … maybe I'll try surfing!

So, why there? I wanted to go to Brazil, and I wanted to do capoeira. But as I was traveling alone, I wanted to go somewhere I'd at least know someone. I don't have any besties in Floripa, but I have met a couple of Capoeira Angola Palmares teachers from there, and they have beautiful games. So, why not? I'm sure I will have other opportunities to see the rest of the country.

I don't have much of a plan yet. I'll spend the first week on the far south of the island near Pantano do Sul, a sleepy village. No capoeira, I don't think, but some nice hiking. After that I'll head up to the city. At some point, I want to get on a bus and head to Iguacu Falls. And that's it! Everything else is up in the air.

*Harry Potter reference.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Hiking Sugarloaf

My foray to Virgin Falls was my first hike in some time, thanks to a rotator cuff injury that makes carrying a backpack painful. I finally purchased a lumbar pack, so now I can hike pain-free (if dorkily). I was excited to get back to the trails, so my next hike was with the Ramblers. It went through Goose Pond State Park, up Lazy Hill, and up Sugarloaf Mountain. The hike wasn't far from New York City, in Orange County. Sugarloaf is fairly steep and requires moderate scrambling at the end, but the view is worth it. This photo was taken very close to the top; you can get an idea of both the steepness and the view from it.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Virgin Falls hike

Virgin Falls by TheTurducken
Virgin Falls, a photo by TheTurducken on Flickr.
While in Tennessee for spring break, I hiked with a few friends to Virgin Falls, one of the area's classic hikes. The water was very high, and each of the four waterfalls was impressive.

When I first did the hike years ago, there was a detour that led up a ladder to an overlook, and back to the main trail via another ladder. However, not long after, a major storm destroyed both ladders, and the overlook trail was closed. I was excited to see on this trip that it was reopened. Now, only one ladder is open, so you return to the trail the way you came. But it's nice to have this option back.