to mark the beginning of a historic city centre than by an ugly, high-rising and abandoned construction site.
Admittingly, we should have known what to expect from Blumenau at exactly this moment in time. Still, as Germans living in Southern Brazil, we had been asked “Have you been to Blumenau?” so many times, that we assumed that there must be something worth-while visiting.
To frame it positively, one could argue that Blumenau has the authentic charm of many other historic city centres in Brazil: two dozens or so of old buildings and in between some of the ugliest architectural sins the 1960s and 1970s had to offer.
To be fair: the city centre is clean, it’s safe to walk even on a Sunday (note to self: never visit city centres on Sundays – shops are closed!) and the few historic buildings that harbor banks like Santander, Bradesco or Itaú, have been artfully restored, probably by the funds of the very institutions they house.
As I have found little to no English information online, here is a rough guide for hiking on the Ilha de Santa Catarina.
We ignored Florianopolis, the capital – lovingly nicknamed Floripa – and drove straight to the other side of the island
We stayed overnight in Barra da Lagoa and did 2 longer walks, 11 km each with 4 km optional*
The first tour starts directly in Barra da Lagoa, on the other side of the pretty blue pedestrian bridge. Just ask the locals for a trilha and you’ll be shown were to go.
Follow the lightly beaten path – there is no other till reaching Praia Mole.
Take the road for a km or so direction Lagoa da Conceição till your GPS** (seriously, take one) indicates a path to Praia de Cravata.
Enjoy the sights there but stop walking before getting your legs all scratched by these:
For the second tour, we drove to the South of the Island and parked the car close to the Praia matadeiro
The trail starts by taking left after crossing the little river on a small wooden bridge.
Keep on walking, cross the next beach – at the end of it, you’ll find the continuation of the path.
Up in the mountains it goes, and on and on till reaching the praia of Lagoinha do Leste – a beach that’s only accessible through trails.
After a good break and another walk by the beach, find the wooden sign indicating the trail to Pantana do Sul and from here the bus back to where your car stands.
Honestly, the trails are sometimes not more than a washed out stream, in other words: steep, slippery and occasionally muddy. I hence highly recommend good hiking shoes even if you meet invariable and infallibly a Brazilian doing the same trail wearing floppies. Also take something to eat and lots to drink as there is sometimes a bit of infrastructure but sometimes not.
For us, it was very enjoyable to hike along this rough coast with its chilly winds alternating dense vegetation and lonely beaches.
É muito recomendado!
* Optional as in either taking the bus or walking back by the road
** We’re using the OsmAnd app as you can actually see the trails if zooming in closely enough.
is not always the easiest thing to do. Being pampered by Having grown up with German standards, hiking in Brazil is something more of an adventure. The first challenge is usually to know of the existence of ‘a trilha’ – a hiking path – and the 2nd is to find the very same.
In the Northeast, the latter was close to impossible as ways were simply not marked or only accessible through private ground or – worse – through sugar cane fields. Coming South, we had already been advised that winter is the best time for hiking as it’s less hot and as there are less annoying animals – think spiders, snakes or mosquitoes – around.
So with a long four-day weekend and a glorious weather forecast ahead, we went to Ilha de Santa Catarina to explore the local surroundings.
What shall I say?
It was beautiful!!
2 and a half amazing hikes over hills, through forests and along beaches, spotting wild goats* on one day and dolphins on the next. Add to this pretty flowers, mighty rocks and the great feeling to be out of the office, out of the city for a change: marvelous!
* OK, probably ‘only’ tame goats gone wild but who cares… They had a little one!!
As far as I have noticed, any noun in Brazil can be modified by adding a
ão – making it a ‘bigger’, or
inho / inha (depending on gender) – making it smaller
Jogão – an eventful, big game (of, let’s say, football)
Favorzão – a big favor
Favorzinho – a small favor
Chuvinha – fine / little rain
The famous cafezinho – a small / quick coffee
works also for chazinho – i.e. tea
Sometimes however, the meaning of the words shiftes ever so slightly when marked by such a suffix:
Peixão – big fish – also synonym for a woman with curves
Peixinho – small fish – also synonym for the boss’ favorite in the office
Beyond the meaning, comes the wish-thinking in the form of problemazinho – a little, a small problem. While grammatically, problemazão exists as well, no Brazilian would ever admit that you are just confronted with a such.
Which leaves us – last but not least – with obrigadão – a big thank you for reading!
* Technically português do Brasil as opposed to português do Portugal. Only that I have absolutely no idea about the latter since I’ve never been there.
has cooled down lately. Especially the excitement of hosting the Worldcup which was supposed to be the achievement of the modern, rising & growing Brazil has all but disappeared.
The preparations for the Worldcup have so effectively exposed some underlying weaknesses – corruption, mismanagement and incompetence, that some wish it would never have come to their country in the first place. During conversations in recent weeks, many Brazilian friends left no doubt that they’d prefer Brazil losing the Worldcup for fear that if the seleção won, it should be reinterpreted as a belated justification for all the expenses.
As a German, I would of course love to see Germany winning the tournament, but witnessing Brazilians turning so harshly against their own country and finding only faults in it or problems were none are, pains me. Last week, after two very cold nights with minimum degrees reaching -2°C, a newspaper commented on the temperatues with “Imagina na copa…” As if hosting the games during Winter & raining season had been the decision of the government that Brazilians now ought to apologise for.
And while no crime, no displacement, no floundering of public resources is justified by the preparations of the cup, I still look forward to watching futebol and to enjoy the sport. And I hope that Brazilians will be able to do this too.
Because after all, football is a democratic sport bringing old and young out into a field where skin color, social class or job title are forgotten for a while. No matter if it’s next to the road, on an empty field by the village, on the beach or on a nice green pitch, football brings passion, brings enthusiasm, brings laughter & joy.
The Fifa might be selling out football, but that should not harm the sport itself. So instead of falling in with the lamenting, I recommend this photo series from the BBC that shows the beauty of it all:
Samba is probably the one kind of music that comes to most people’s mind when thinking about Brazil; in line with carnival and Rio de Janeiro. Not surprising for a country of its size, there is much, much more with strong regional differences, trends and preferences.
Were it not for the help of a friend, I would be in no position to write about Brazilian music. I’m not really a fan of Bossa Nova and even less of Forró – the popular music of the Northeast. Still, thanks to this friend who is fund of meaningful music, as opposed to the cheap, widely selling popular one, here below is a selection of songs he made me listen to to broaden my musical knowledge. What can I say but: Obrigada!
Brazilians are really no good at it: driving. They are not even particularly aggressive but simply incapable.
To accelerate quickly, to stay in line, to take a turn without blocking two other cars, to look where you’re driving – not one of these behaviors should be taken for granted when it comes to traffic. Even less practices like using the rear-view mirror or to look back over ones shoulder…
Behaviors that seem more popular among drivers here are the use of a cellphone, the sending of a few messages, the checking of facebook or to have a beer or two before driving back home. Really nothing unusual…
Knowing this, it doesn’t come as a surprise that traffic fatalities have been raising; even catching up with the murder rates according to some newspapers. Those who are most threatened by this development are not car- but motorbike drivers who recklessly double cars, buses or lorries left and right, always assuming that honking gives them priority and does away with the optical realities of the blind spot.
It doesn’t help that the helmet is – especially in the interior – considered as optional and that decent protective clothing is not so much unknown as unaffordable. On the other hand, Brazilians manage to turn a normal motorbike into a heavy duty transport engine, carrying not only the driver and a passenger but also two kids and the weekly grocery shopping. Or, as witnessed once by us, a driver, a passenger and the front half of a dead cow.
Truth to be told, the responsibility for the sometimes chaotic behaviors on the streets in Brazil does not only lie with the drivers. The conditions of the road and the cars is often just as frightening. Junky cars that are kept together by rust and habit only, streets with potholes of impressive depths as well as bridges that get flooded during raining season – it’s by no means easy to focus on the traffic.
Though that’s exactly what would be necessary, especially if you consider all those who ‘participate’ in it:
Oversized SUV whose owners’ driving capacity is inversely related to the horse power of their cars,
Optimistically loaded lorries whose brakes are all but reliable
Bus and taxi drivers who consider every centimeter of ground given away to another car as a personal defeat
Artisan karts drawn by horses or donkeys and often as optimistically loaded as the lorries
Barefoot cyclists talking on their mobile and of course without any light or protection whatsoever.
Plus, outside of the cities: cows, more donkeys & horses, goats, sheep, chicken, pigs and dogs. And occasionally urubu – vultures feeding of the roadkill.