Rio coastline

Couchsurfing dance in Brazil

First impression of Brazil: It’s cold!

We got off the bus in Curitiba, that is remarkable in that it his build 1000 meters in altitude. So instead of moving north towards a warmer climate, we had come back to our starting point. Genius!

I can’t blame Weirdo and Cranky though. Curitiba was the only place we had a host in.

Since we left Australia, it’s been quite difficult to find a host. We were desperate to the point of using the Couchsurfing® company. BeWelcome needs some love in South America…

It was the first time we Couchsurfed™ for a long time. And our previous experience had weirded us out a bit. This time, it didn’t look like it was going to get better. The Couchsurfer™ insisted on refusing to give us her address and told us which exact bus lines to ride in turn, then to call her from a phone cabin and then she would drive a motorized vehicle to pick us up. We managed to perform this little dance and proceeded to meet her and her house.

From that point, it spiraled up into good to better. She lived with her husband and parents in two twin-houses. We got along quite alright with all of them and stayed a couple of days.

We took it easy there. Visiting a bit, doing some homely things as well. Weirdo got good at baking bread. We also understood that we were very lucky to have found them and not someone else. “You guys are so nice! Couchsurfers™ never cook for us.” Looks like the average Couchsurfers™ is an outright asshole. Since we had mostly kept to BeWelcome for the whole trip, we didn’t know that.

We also made our plan for Brazil. Cranky and Weirdo have this friend that lives in the north-east, where it’s warm. So, what we’ll do is not visit her and travel back south to Florianopolis where we don’t know anybody. That’s Cranky and Weirdo making plans. They truly suck at being adults.

We decided to go hitchhiking, of course. Adventure, here we come !

Hitchhiking in Brazil

Suspense… It sucks.

I think we’ll just stop trying. Our Couchsurfer™’s dad drove us to a gas station by the side of the southern highway. We stayed there for two hours, trying different spots and techniques, while drivers were focusedly looking the other way. And since Brazil is such a polar place, we did all that while freezing our asses. Chilean style: all our clothe on us and still cold. This was really bad because going back into town to catch a coach would have taken us all day and we didn’t have that long. Curitiba is a three-millions-people place. Eventually someone agreed to take us to the nearest town. We asked to be dropped at the bus terminal. Fuck this place.

When the coach started, it was already night. Yes, all afternoon hitchhiking, one ride. We got to Florianopolis at 11am. And it’s a big island. Oh, I forgot to mention. This is Florianopolis:

Sattelite picture of Florianopolis
Now you can hate me

So, it’s a big island. As wide as Reunion. And we had to cross it all by bus to get to our host. Oh, I forgot to mention. Platschi has a friend there.

We arrived past midnight. Instead of giving us some GPS coordinates to get to, the dude asked us to call him when we get to the bus stop, he’d come pick us up. Is that a local custom, or what?

Petit Bibi and Tiago
That’s him. That photo was taken the following day, obviously.
We walked back to his home. Thirty minutes on a dirt road. On the way, we took a break at his friend’s place to catch Weirdo’s breath (he’s loaded like a donkey).

He lives in a wooden house that is just so cute. You gotta see it to believe it! You can’t though, because neither Weirdo nor Cranky had the presence of mind to snap one. We slept like logs until the next day.

I almost sayed “slept like blogs”, but I decided to spare you the terrible pun at the last second, and then realised you didn’t deserve it after all so here it is. Muahahaha.

Floripa

We wanted to go to the beach. Tiago had left super early to work, but he’d told us the way to the beach. He’d said that we could get there on foot but that it was a bit difficult. If he was a car-people, we would have laughed to his face. Car people have a really low definition of “difficult” when it comes to going somewhere on foot. But Tiago had considered it easier to walk one hour than to give us coordinates, so we might have found our master there. It turned out that going to the beach on foot was… wait for it… awesome.

You walk 100 meters down his road, and it turns into a footpath that goes uphill. That sounds counterintuitive for now, but just bear with me. The hill is very green, but the ground is actually sand. If you’re clever, you already guessed it was a sand dune. If you’re like us, you’d have to wait to get to the top. And lo, you have just been delivered to another planet. Or another part of this one, like the Sahara desert. Dunes after dunes of white sand as bright as an upside-down overcast. Little patches of dry forest here and there to hold it all into place. And in the distance, you can already hear the faint roaring of furious Atlantic. I know people usually think the Pacific is the ferocious one but believe me, these waves were monstrous.

I’ve had to describe all this because all of Cranky’s pictures are blurry. Boy we miss Weirdo’s camera…

We walked through that landscape in what should have been a religious silence (but I don’t really remember, it was last month). We got to the shore and there was just one other guy and one horse on it. I mean, on the beach. The guy was actually on the horse. Completely empty apart from that.

We stayed for a couple of days in this island. It was a really nice place. And Tiago was nice too. And he was living in a nice place too. Hitchhiking around was hard, but doable. On the fourth day we had a little trip with Tiago to the south to celebrate his quitting his job.

We left the dunes the last 2 days to go to other second-hand friends that live by the beach in a nearby town. And when I say “by the beach”, I mean that if you walk out their front door, you’re in the sand.

It was a pretty touristic place. Weirdo found consolation in the fact that there were little caipirinha carts all over it.

Caipirinha cart in Florianopolis
This one served him such a strong one that he was smiling for hours on end.

All in all, we left Floripa with some good memories. I might come back one day. Actually, given my life expectancy and background, it is highly likely that I’ll come back.

Our next and last stop should be Rio de Janeiro. But we stopped over in Curitiba for the night at our friends, the Couchsurfers™. The whole extended family was there and we kinda knew them all so it was a bit like coming home.

We caught a night bus to Rio the next day.

Rio de Janeiro

Curitiba and Floripa had left us with the impression that Brazil was an organized and fair country, where there were little poverty. The city center of Rio shattered that image to tiny shards. Crossing the city center of Rio, you get the impression that half the Brazilians are homeless. Which would be a dubious proposition at best (I caught this expression from Weirdo. He uses it all the time. He thinks it makes him sound clever and all, but everyone knows it’s from Django unchained).

We had a host, by the way. We were a bit anxious because it was another Couchsurfer™. Plus, she lived in a far away suburb. We calculated to arrive there in the evening and went to the beach to kill time. The waves were monstrous which prompted Weirdo to go swim in them. You probably think I’m a wimp or something so let’s hear it from Weirdo (shaking like a leaf): “OMG! These are the scariest waves I’ve ever seen! They nearly broke me in half! And I was only taking them meters after they crashed!”. He was limping for a week after that. Sand had been forced under the skin of his foot by the force of the waves. So who’s a little baby now?

We shouldn’t have stopped, because hitchhiking in the city didn’t work at all, and riding the bus couldn’t be referred to as “working” either. We found ourselves waiting for a never-coming bus for one hour and walking by the side of a highway in the dark looking for a non-existing bus stop. We also got rained on pretty bad. Going somewhere by bus in Rio is a dubious proposition at best. Ah shit!

We got there eventually. But it was late. We still presented our unworthy selves to the Couchsurfer™ woman. She told us it was no problem at all and we were relieved.

She sounds cool like that, but she was actually a bit off. After saying it, she withdrew somewhere and didn’t address us anymore. Her older kid, that was in his teens, had invited some friends over and we were sharing the living room with them. They didn’t talk to us either. They moved to another room to play some loud music, then watch a loud film. I’m talking super-loud here. Like they had just bought a nightclub-grade amp and wanted the whole neighborhood to know it. Well, we knew. Our ears are still ringing. It kept on going until sunrise. Cranky tried to bang their door to get them to turn the volume down but they either ignored her, either it was so loud they didn’t hear.

We left the next morning after having said good bye, not auf wiedersehen. It was quite a gamble: we were going to another Couchsurfer™.

Our next host lived in another town. Like, you had to ride the coach for two hours to get there. Still, we had all day. So we went to watch a painfully bad Hollywood flick called “Divergent” on the way. Big mistake. Riding the bus to the bus terminal took us two hours more than we had expected. Plus, it had rained on us so hard we were really wet. We arrived one hour and a half after the window they had given us. Seriously, don’t ride the bus in Rio. Better: don’t go to Rio. It sucks.

Rio das Ostras, the town where we were, turned out to be quite alright.

The Couchsurfers™ were kind of like the opposite of the ones we’d run away from. They were so polite it was really embarrassing. Instead of putting us in the living room, they put their 12-years-old kid there and we got to sleep in his room. I have to admit it was nice to have our room after having slept on the floor of a mosquito-infested living-room the night before. We had our own bathroom! But I felt sorry for the kid.

They too found it strange that we’d cook for them. Disapprovingly strange. Weirdo, that cooks for the hosts all the time, didn’t know what to do with himself. He ended up making something that they insisted on believing was only for us to eat and then, we accepted that we were in a sort of free-hotel fairytale.

They were quite nice though. We talked a lot over dinner (made by them, with stuff bought by them) and spent the days out on the seaside or on daytrip adventures where we got rained on a lot.

And then, it was time to catch a plane out of Brazil. We had to go back to Rio for that. After much hesitation, we decided to give a last chance to hitchhiking. Lo! The 100th car picked us up! And a direct ride too!

Our last day was spent ticking off the list of touristic things to do in Rio. It was quite fun because we were careful not to ride the bus too much.

And off we went. To where? I’d tell you, but I want to build up some suspense for the next article. Meanwhile, you have time to go update your BeWelcome profile.

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Petit Bibi

Petit Bibi

I started this trip when I was 5 month old. By the time it ends, I'll have spent more than half my life on the road.

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