Foreigner in Brazil (48)
MAY 2007 (I). Pântano do Sul, Armação and Matadeiro.
Experiences of a Dutchman living in Brazil since December 2004: episode 48.
May 2007, part one: The southern part of Santa Catarina Island: the climb of a hill at Pântano do Sul, and a visit to the beaches of Armação and Matadeiro.
In May 2007, I joined a group of students to Florianópolis, capital of the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina. Thusfar, the first days in Florianópolis were very enjoyable for me. The northern part of Santa Catarina Island, where I had visited a fortress and witnessed a colorful, magical sunset. Downtown Florianópolis, even on a very quiet Sunday. Vitor, my travel companion in Florianópolis suggested to visit the southern part of Santa Catarina island. I agreed. Again, we had to get up early. And again, the majority of the students, who had enjoyed a boat party the previous night, was sound asleep. It was already eight-thirty when we arrived at the bus terminal, but we had to be patient for the propoer bus connection to the center, in order to catch the connectiong bus to the southern part of the island.
It was already eleven am. when we finally reached the southern part of the island. Almost everything around us was green. Principally lush green meadows, and if you would erase the mountains at the horizon, it was as if I were in The Netherlands: a typical Dutch so-called polder landscape, complete with cattle and horses. Several farms, settlements and little villages were spread over the green landscape. The farms had a simple appearance: small buildings with sometimes a messy yard, which feeded my impression that those small-scale farmers were not rich. It wouldn`t have surprised me at all that many of those farmer`s have left their home farm and moved to the city of Florianópolis, in their search of better opportunities.
About thirty minutes later, we had arrived at the southernmost location of the island, about thirty kilometers from downtown: Pântano do Sul. The bus stop was not far from the beach, and only a few minutes later, we were on the small, deserted beach. An information sign showed us that whales could be observed from there, but the best time for whale observation is between mid August and mid October. To my surprise, some cars were parked on the beach, between a small number of small fishing boats lying ashore. Vítor and I quickly explored the small beach that was flanked by large wooded hills. There was a handful of beach guests, who were scattered around the beach.
Vítor suggested climbing one of the hills. Both of us like nature walks very much, and I quickly agreed. We followed the directions indicated by small signs, and indeed, we arrived at the starting point of a trail. That day, both of us wore flip flops, which is common for many Brazilians. I almost had to give up the walk, when I suddenly noticed that something sharp had stuck into my flip flop. Indeed, a large, sharp thorn had completely perforated my flip flop, but fortunately had missed my foot. I removed the thorn and we continued the climb that meandered along pine trees. Walking along those trees didn`t give me the idea I was in a tropical country, despite the temperature that almost hit tropical values during the week of our stay.
We steadily continued our climb, while the sun was shining intensely and the temperature was rising quickly. Suddenly, Vítor was not feeling very well and told me that he needed some rest. While we was resting and taking a little nap, I wandered around and paid some attention to various groups of ants that were working hard to transport tiny plant fragments to their nest. I observed three different types of ants that where following unique tracks, without perturbing each other too much. When I was walking back to see Vítor, I had almost stepped upon a hairy object. This object, a bit larger than my hand, did not move at all. I then discovered that this hairy thing was a dead tarantula.
Several black vultures were circling above me, high in the sky. These large birds took advantage of the thermals and only made minor wing movements when they changed the direction or altitude. Suddenly, a couple landed on top of some rocks at some dozen meters from me. Cautiously, and keeping an eye on the vultures, and in the hope that they would not consider me as a possible intruder, I moved on, and reached the top of the hill. Meanwhile, Vítor had regained enough energy and joined me about fifteen minutes later. We both enjoyed very much the breathtaking landscape: lush green hills, with small farms and little villages scattered around. We also observed the outlines of a distant lake. This unforgettable view was worth the climb. On the way back to the beach, we had to follow the same trail. Obviously, it took us much less time to reach the beach.
When we had arrived on the beach again, we entered a small restaurant, where Vítor ordered a simple meal for both of us: rice, beans, salad and freshly fried fish. According to the owner of the restaurant, that fish had been caught early that day and he proudly showed the fish before it was being fried for us. Indeed, the fish was fresh and delicious. We enjoyed the meal, which was an effective refill of our energy supplies. We had the intention to visit the pousada (hostel), where part of our group of friends was hosted. Initially, it was the intention that both Vítor and I would join this group; however, because of our late arrival at the university campus, we decided to stay on the campus.
In order to reach the hostel, we had to follow a small road heading northward. Again we were among green meadows, and we came along several small villages. Fortunately, there was almost no traffic on this road. We could continue our walk on the road instead of a more troublesome walk on the roadside. The walk lasted more than an hour, but it was already late in the afternoon, with the sun shining with much less intensity. The group was happy to meet us again and was eager to show us the pousada. We then walked on Armaçaõ Beach, were we met another part of the group. We all joined them and jointly enjoyed some cold beers. That was really what we had deserved that day, after an intensive climb and another walk. We were on time to witness a colorful sunset, at full moon. Again, we had experienced a magical moment on Santa Catarina Island, which truly deserves to be called `The Island of Magic`.
By Adriano Antoine Robbesom © 2007, 2015