The last two weeks have been absolutely crazy. Not only has there been lots of traveling but the academic work has kicked up with plenty of mid-term and final exams, presentations, and group projects...so I've been on the go. And to put it into context, the last 72 hours, I've had 12 straight hours of class every day without a break. I'm literally running from one to the next and grabbing a quick snack and a coke to stay awake in between. Good news is that I can see a little calmness on the horizon and a relaxing weekend in Sao Paulo ahead of me...so things are looking up!
So...let's travel back in time to about two weeks ago for one of the many Brazilian holidays that the whole country enjoys (seriously USA...it seems like Brazil has a day or two off every other week...we need to start celebrating more! haha). I made the long and arduous trek way down to the south of Brazil to the state of Santa Catarina for a weekend in the beautiful Florianopolis. More commonly referred to as "Floripa," it's an incredibly large island in the primarily German/Italian state of Brazil with some of the world's most beautiful beaches, ravenous night clubs, and homey style communities. It is also one of the safest places in Brazil, and that was evident by the family style atmosphere I felt nearly everywhere I went.
The good news was that I was going to be on the beach all weekend...the bad news was that a good 12-13 hour bus ride was in between me and paradise. Somehow I managed through that and arrived to Floripa in a downpour. For the first time in my life, I stayed at a hostel. Although, my views of hostels have now changed dramatically...I'm afraid I stayed at what is not the hostel norm. Perched up on a mountain that overlooked the bay, you could only get to the hostel by foot by crossing a tiny blue bridge over a small waterway and trekking up into the mountain on a small stone-laid passageway. I was welcomed by the nicest crew who wanted only that I enjoy everything that Floripa had to offer while relaxing! The hostel was very very clean, bed was super comfortable, incredible views...the staff even cooked us dinner and there were complimentary caipirinhas every day...not to mention a boatload of things like surfboards, wetsuits, fishing gear, volleyballs, etc. that we could use for free! The rain kept me inside for my first afternoon, but I grabbed lunch with some people I met from Chile and Australia who were at the same hostel and we began our multilingual lunch in a covered restaurant on the beach.
I woke up on Friday feeling an incredible urge to go for a run on the beach. The sun was coming out, the weather was nice, and I've been maintaining good form here by eating healthy and exercising. Well...I thought I was prepared for the run ahead of me...but I'm still recovering today! The bay looked small from the mountain but what was intended to be a nice mile or two run barefoot in the sand turned into a 20 km (half-marathon) survivor excursion. I just kept going and going and going and going...couldn't stop. It was one of those runs. But...about half way through, I started to feel the sand wearing and tearing on my body. Not only had I not properly hydrated or eat enough that morning, my feet were starting to blaze in the hot sand since I was barefoot and I had the unfortunate occasion of stepping on a few rocks and shells that caused my steps in the sand to be permanent blood tracks. Despite the pain, I just kept going...mesmorized by all wild animals, jelly fish, birds, turtles, and everything else that was on the beach during my run. A quick look towards the sea was just enough motivation to keep on keeping on. I'd say a good 8-10 miles would have been good enough though because the last few were the biggest struggle. Running in the sand is no joke and my body was its victim. I did indeed finish after a good 5-5.5 hours but an inability to walk for a week and constant icing was the only thing that followed.
I did in fact though have enough energy to hobble my way to the bus station because there was no way I was going to miss the 2nd biggest Oktoberfest celebration in the world outside of Munich! A quick 3 hour ride west put me and my friends in a German beer-drinking and schnitzel-eating paradise!!! I was so amazed...all the blue eyed and blonde haired Portuguese speakers were alive and well. We bought the German caps, straps, and mugs and started our Saturday with bratwurst, weiner schnitzel, pretzels, goulash, sauerkraut, and more! We made our way to all the beer tastings and spent some time listening to the live bands. The whole venue was a gigantic German village...giving it a very European feel with lots of shops and plenty of food. It was a great day and a ton of fun!
Although my visit to Floripa was supposed to be a relaxing weekend, you can see that it probably did more damage to my body than respite. haha. Nevertheless, I spent all Sunday on the beach just reading and sleeping as means of recovery and then braved the Brazilian holiday traffic (which is god awful) all the way home.