Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Outdoor gyms

Fitness station by TheTurducken
Fitness station, a photo by TheTurducken on Flickr.
Remember these things? There was a rash of building them in the '80s back in the U.S.

(Side story: When we moved to North Carolina, for reasons still unclear to me the school did not have a playground, just fields. It did have one of these. We quickly realized this is way less fun than it looks at first glance.)

They never really took off, maybe because in most of the country the weather is too unpleasant much of the year for anyone to get in the habit. But in Floripa, they are all over the place. Many of them are much fancier than this one, like this one in Curitiba - notice, they even have cardio equipment - and, yes, I see people using them.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Go chasing waterfalls

Waterfall by TheTurducken
Waterfall, a photo by TheTurducken on Flickr.
I kept hearing there was a waterfall in the middle of the island, but concrete details were hard to find. I finally decided to scout it out for reals on Sunday.

Brazilian hiking websites aren't very informative, and it's not just my poor Portuguese that's a problem. They say things like, "Location: Go to the Corrego Grande neighborhood." Yes, by george, that tells me exactly where to find the trailhead!

Let me be specific: Get to the TITRI bus station, and take the 163 - Corrego Grande or 164 - Corrego Grande Pacao bus. I believe the latter drops you off right at the trailhead. The former stops at the bottom of Rua Sebastiao Laurentino da Silva; it's a 10-minute walk up to the trailhead. The sign for the trail is hidden by trees, so just look for this mural.

The hike is maybe 15 minutes, and there is only one hesitation point; when you come to a junction, go left. You're not going to get lost, and you don't have to be in great shape. At the end, whoa, hey, there is a 15-foot-tall waterfall. I saw more Americans there, incidentally, than I have in all my previous weeks here.

On the return, I was curious as to where the other trail went. As the Ghostbusters say, "It goes up." It popped me out at the end of a residential street, and even though I'd never been there before, I quickly knew exactly where I was. (Believe me, I was proud of that!) So, there is an alternate route to the falls: Follow Rua Rosa near UFSC up, up, up, take its left fork, keep going, and then find a trail where the road ends.

Unfortunately, after the lovely weekend, it's back to rain for the Magic Island.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


Praia da Galheta by TheTurducken
Praia da Galheta, a photo by TheTurducken on Flickr.
Last week I didn't do much worth reporting on. Partially, this was due to spending my mornings in Portuguese classes, but even more influential was the dreadful weather - cold and rainy all week.

Saturday morning dawned clear, though, so I decided to hit the beach. I went to the east side of the island to see Praia Mole, one of the big surf beaches. Surfers were out, catching moderate waves. From Praia Mole, I walked to Praia da Galheta, just north but inaccessible by car.

Praia da Galheta is clothing optional, although I didn't see a single naked person. Supposedly there is more nudity in the summer.

Both beaches are quite beautiful. Praia Mole is, I hear, jammed wall-to-wall with people in the summer, but at this time of year it was simply not empty. There are a couple of surf schools, and a few restaurants, but I wouldn't describe it as "overbuilt." (Try the beach in Honolulu for that.) Galheta has no vehicular access, and thus almost no buildings.

I suggest staying on the main trail when traipsing between the two beaches. The side trails don't go anywhere except to dead-end private thickets rich with condom-wrapper litter. I'm much more disturbed by littering than random gay sex, but if someone is so short of privacy they're willing to have sex in pokey shrubbery, I'll let them have that privacy.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

O Centro

Catedral Metropolitana by TheTurducken
Catedral Metropolitana, a photo by TheTurducken on Flickr.
I finally went downtown on Friday. The photo here is of the Metropolitan Cathedral, part of a small neighborhood of historic buildings. There is the old mercado, the old customs house, the pedestrian shopping mall, the museum, and the November 16th Square. The square is notable for the figueira tree in the center; it's over 100 years old and supported by poles.

Outside of this small historic area, the downtown is full of unexceptional high-rises. The other tourist point in the area is the Hercilio Luz Bridge. Now closed and finally being restored, it was the first bridge that connected the island to the mainland.

Speaking of bridges, yesterday the other two bridges were shut due to protests. Folks have asked if I'm affected by the protests that are sweeping Brazil, and the answer is, not really. You can compare it to Occupy Wall Street - it was easy to avoid if you weren't in a major city such as New York, and Floripa is the country's 51st largest city. The protests that are happening here are downtown, not near where I am staying.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Costa da Lagoa

Dock by TheTurducken
Dock, a photo by TheTurducken on Flickr.
While I was busless in Lagoa, I decided to do the trail to Costa da Lagoa. It's a small town north of where I am staying, reachable only by trail or boat. Many of the people who live there fish, and there is a strong Azorean influence.

The trail is 7 km one-way, with surprising ups and downs for a trail on the edge of a lake. It starts off from a dead-end road, proceeding into a pleasant forest with occasional houses and cabins. It eventually opens up, with more homes and fewer trees, and there you are in Costa da Lagoa.

It's hard to photograph the town itself without being intrusive, so I don't have many great pictures of it. However, the hike itself is very nice.

Just past the town is a trail to Ratatones. I did not follow it, but I may do so a later day.

Monday, June 10, 2013


The primary reason I came to Brazil was to do capoeira. The first week, though, I chose to stay in Pantano do Sul and relax and hike.

The second week, I stayed with a friend near the university. As the crow flies, it isn't that far from where the Mestre teaches, but it's 3 buses and two walks - she suggested I give it three hours. I didn't have directions until Wednesday, but I was told the Wednesday night class wouldn't be a good one for me.

Thursday I tried to go to a Professor's class in the neighborhood, but I couldn't find it. (This was my first major navigation fail.)

Friday night, I did get a ride to Mestre's roda - thank you very much, Beluga!

This week I moved to the neighborhood of Lagoa. It's one bus away from Mestre - I could stay closer, but the closer hostels are a long walk from grocery stores, etc. Maybe I should have gone with one of them, as I discovered today there is a bus strike. It's an hour and a half walk, and not on streets I want to walk after dark. If I go Wednesday, I will leave early and hang out after dark.

The best-laid plans!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The weather

Remember, it's winter by TheTurducken
Remember, it's winter, a photo by TheTurducken on Flickr.
When I told people I was going to Santa Catarina, I heard two different responses. Quite a few people said, "Oh, Brazil! Should be nice and warm." People who knew a bit more about Brazil said, "Oh, it'll be winter down there. It'll get chilly." While northern Brazil is always warm, southern Brazil actually has seasons., and of course they are the reverse of those up north.

Well, I have to say, the folks who knew less about Brazil were right. At night it gets cool enough that pants and a light jacket or sweater are nice, but during the day it's been in the 70s and sunny. It's too warm, if one is outside, for jeans and long sleeves.

Now, the locals may beg to differ; I've seen plenty of long sleeves and jeans. I even saw an absurd girl wearing a turtleneck today. For every person I see bundled up, though, I see one in shorts and a tank. And they don't have Yooper blood in their veins - I'm built to withstand cold, not heat.

I may find myself buying some lighter clothes.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Greetings from Pantanal

Shell by TheTurducken
Shell, a photo by TheTurducken on Flickr.
I'm currently staying in the neighborhood of Pantanal (not to be confused with THE Pantanal, on the mainland), near to the Federal University of Santa Catarina. The photo here is from the university; one of the things I've done is take a busman's holiday around campus.

I have been running a few errands and working - not so exciting, alas - but today I went to the neighborhood of Lagoa. It's near the big lake on the island, and it's where most of the nightlife is. It's also much closer to where the capoeira classes are. (As the crow flies, the classes aren't even far from here, but unfortunately I am not a crow, and taking three buses is a bit much.) I didn't expect to like the Lagoa area, as nightlife isn't my thing, but I was surprised. Perhaps because it's winter and the off-season - the summer might be too crazy. There is a lot more within easy walking distance there, and the lake itself is very nice.

Hopefully, tomorrow, I will finally get to do capoeira! There is a student of Mestre Calunga's who teaches close to the university, within walking distance even.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Pantano do Sul, part 2

Up to the sky by TheTurducken
Up to the sky, a photo by TheTurducken on Flickr.
I am now in the city itself, but here's an update on the last few days in the south.

I went on a hike. It wends its way from Praia do Solidao to Praia do Saquinho and onto a viewpoint I didn't reach. Much of the path is paved in a narrow strip (pictured here), about a foot wide. Past Saquinho, it passes several houses reachable only by this path. Unfortunately, I was overdressed for the hike (the weather was cloudy and chilly when I left but rapidly got warmer), and then I was stopped by a dog who would not let me pass. So, I didn't make it all the way to the viewpoint.

On Sunday, I was picked up by a friend and returned to the city - much faster by car than by bus!