Clare and Jim go South

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We’ve finally arrived properly!

November13

It was soooo worth the wait!

It was soooo worth the wait!

Yes indeedio. It’s taken us the best part of 6 weeks, but Barra da Lago in Florianopolis is totally where we want to be and is exceeding all our hopes and expectations. About blimmin time! It’s sooooo different to the other places we’ve stayed in so far… and it’s such a welcome change. It did take us 24 hours on a loooooong, uncomfortable bus journey to get here, but it was worth every bump in the road, rubbery croissant and badly dubbed English movie. Though, I wouldn’t want to do it again in a hurry.

We arrived here at night time so didn’t really get to fully appreciate what delights we had before us. Tired, grubby and desperate to stretch our legs, we wobbled into a taxi and explained where we wanted to go. Jamie was very impressed as the 4×4 cab also had satnav. Little use that was, though. As is typical here, we said the road name a few times and the cabby didn’t understand what we said. Eventually I had to write it down - and even then, despite his assurances that yes yes he knew it exactly where it was… he seemed a little unsure. Passing through small towns and big lakes, we started to get a bit excited… and when we got to the Barra da Lagao signs we felt sure we were nearly there. But no. The cab driver, satnav flashing away but without him typing in the address, we drove round and round aimlessly. Finally, we arrived at the end of a road and he got out the car, leaving us confused, waiting in the car. He popped into a restaurant and asked them if they knew where the address was (satnav still staring at us… ), one man got involved, then three.. until the next thing you know, he’s pointing at the cab and a young boy shouted something, keen to join in the madness too.

Turns out, we fathomed, this boy lived near to the place we were staying, and he’d happily ride his bike in the middle of the road randomly waving his arm in a ‘follow me’ type fashion to lead the cab driver (did I mention he had satnav and didn’t want to use it?) to our desired destination. Ha ha! We felt almost regal, sat in our cab with pedal bike accompaniment, cab driver leaning out the window to chat to the boy, honking his horn with happy abandon. Oh the shame - spot the tourist! Once we got dropped off, it didn’t take us long to work out that our B and B had a schnauzer next door, much to Jamie’s delight - it seems to be a constant theme of our trip!

So we’ve been here nearly two weeks now… the first week we stayed in a very sweet little Bed and Breakfast. During that time, we tried really hard to find somewhere to rent more long term. For the first time, my Spanish really hasn’t been of much help, and we struggled a lot because added to that, not many people speak English here either. Our lack of Portuguese really hindered us in getting anywhere - it’s been very frustrating and encouraged me more than ever to start classes.  Florianopolis is such a little gem of a place but, as a result, it was soooo difficult to find anywhere to live. We were both starting to feel quite down beat about it - the first place we actually love, and no one wants to rent to us. So typical! They just don’t do long term rentals here- in the 5 days over carnival, and 7 days over new year, landlords here make enough money to live off for the ENTIRE year.  Last week it was the only thing Jamie and I thought and spoke about… knowing all these houses were sitting empty whilst we needed a place to stay, like little hobos.

The first night we arrived, we popped out to get a bite to eat and have a few beers. We are now so glad we did because it was here we met Carolina and Juiliano, a loooovely Brazilian couple who live just down the road from us. We got chatting and Carolina immediately offered to help us try to find somewhere, emphasing that she thought it might be a bit tricky because we had arrived so close to their summer holiday period. Anyways, they have been absolute legends… they’ve really taken us under their wing and we get on so well. Last weekend we went with Carolina, her sister Anna and some of her friends into downtown Floripa to a gig. I’m pretty sure if we hadn’t got chatting to them, we’d never have experienced something like that. This weekend I’ve invited them over to our new home to try to cook them something nice. Fingers crossed because the food choices here are so different. It’s made me really appreciate things like Lloyd Grossman Thai Green Curry Sauce (quite specific, I know - but I miss this one A LOT) and the variety of foods we have in supermarkets back home. Here, fruit and veg is entirely seasonal, which I actually quite like, but I have to cook everything from scratch with completely different ingredients, looking at pictures to try to work out what everything is! I’m loving the Italian influence though - panettone galore here for just £1. Vera, you’d be in your element! The cakes are lush too, and we try to sample a new one each day.

So, after seeing lots of places, this is the house we preferred… it was the last one the estate agent showed us and turns out it also belonged to his parents. And best of all - it was next door to the B and B we were staying in and the landlords owned the schnauzers. What a sign! And it meant we could still see our gang of hounds that we’ve adopted on a daily basis…

Being greeted by the gang

Being greeted by the gang

From left: Dumbo, Old Boy, Big Ears (she's only 8 months old) and Hopalong

From left: Dumbo, Old Boy, Big Ears (she's only 8 months old) and Hopalong

I just love Big Ears so much - I want to bring her home with us..

I just love Big Ears so much - I want to bring her home with us..and don't worry, I've had my injections.

For the moment, it feels sooooo good to be settled for a bit and we are reveling in it… all that moving about was making us feel funny. It’s so nice to get into a routine, feel part of a community and see familiar faces. I’m in the process of organising a day a week volunteering in a school or community project  which I’m really keen to do. Hopefully it will help me learn the lingo, I get to be around sprogs (yeeeeey!), and Jamie and I get a bit of independent time too.

Now we have an address we’re both desperate to order from Amazon as we ran our of books yonks ago, and I’m trying to make it a bit more homely. Because these places tend to be short term rentals, they’re not as cosy as we’d like. But I put all my photos up yesterday which feels good - friendly faces to see when I open up the fridge and when I wake each day on the bedroom wall. Arrrrrrr! And of course now we have 2 bedrooms, it means we can start welcoming visitors which will be BRILLIANT. It’s starting to feel like home already.

Taking the dogs for a walk

Taking the dogs for a walk

An owl we saw on the way

An owl we saw on the way

Barra itself has a fantastic beach where we plan to learn to surf (don’t laugh), and an inlet that becomes a river which then joins the big lake up by Lagao de Concaio which is the bigger, more lively town 5 mins by bus up the road. Here we have a few restaurants and bars, and supermarkets too… but busier nightlife and more choice is definitely to be found in Concaio. Carolina assures us that as summer begins, more and more bars and restaurants will open in both towns and it will start to get even better here. We’re glad  to have arrived when we did because we get to see it all kicking off - every day we pass people frantically preparing their shops, renovating buildings and places to eat in order to be ready for the crowds. Last night, we treated ourselves midweek to a night out and went to a restaurant in Lagao de Concaio where I had a massive seafood platter with oysters, crab, muscles, prawns and cod. It was yummy and so reasonable. Jamie ordered steak, obviously! Best thing though, is that most restaurants here play live music - it’s like living and breathing the Bueona Vista Social Club first hand.

So things here are all good, and really looking up.

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