Tired of the rivers and lakes that we were used to, we ignored TLC's well-known advice and went chasing waterfalls. What we tracked down was Iguazu Falls at the intersection of the Argentinian, Brazilian and Paraguayan borders (and visited the Argentinian side of the Falls). How good was it? Well, I love waterfalls, so I would have been school-girl giddy with whatever we happened to find there. Kristin, on the other hand, doesn't particularly care for waterfalls [Editor's note: honestly, who doesn't like waterfalls?], told me she had been unimpressed by Niagara Falls [Editor's note: tough crowd, though I note she did have good things to say about the nearby wineries] and appeared to be feigning interest prior to her arrival after I made her promise not to ruin the visit for me. When we finally got there, however, Kristin was a convert - snapping photos like a crazy person and giggling after all of the good mistings. Not even the scolding she got from a park ranger for feeding wildlife could dampen her enthusiasm. Conclusion? Either Iguazu Falls > Niagara Falls or Kristin was still loopy from the big beer I made her split with me the night before we visited. Either way, it's good to have her on our side now. On to Brazil!
Other than a couple of bus rides, five nights in Florianopolis (or "Floripa" to those of us who are in tight) was responsible for our first impression of Brazil. I think we chose wisely. The whole of Santa Catarina Island (of which Floripa is a part) has a population in the neighbourhood of 400,000, who were the fittest and, objectively, probably the most beautiful people we've come across on our trip to date. Organic and other healthy foods dominated most menus in town and visiting outside of the high-season for Brazilian tourism meant that everybody was incredibly laid back and one could find hikes and beaches without any other people during the weekdays. I'm giving the whole town one gold star since it was one of its hostels that finally granted my wish of an all-you-can-eat South American barbecue, but then taking the gold star away because board shorts in town (which I am in dire need of) cost between CDN$90-160.
By my count, it took us about three days to figure out the right mix for the Floripa coastal experience.
Day 1: Hit some popular beaches. Verdict: Good.
Day 2: Hiked through some tropical forest. Verdict: Good.
Day 3: Hiked through some tropical forest to deserted beaches. Verdict: Booyah!
Having mastered the program so early, I could focus my Day 4 efforts on trying surfing for the first time (Floripa is generally regarded as Brazil's surfing paradise). My take: It's tougher than I had imagined and the beach we were at wasn't exactly for beginners. I got up'ish a few times, but never coasted all of the way to the shore as I had envisioned. Kristin's take (after watching from the shore): For the blog, she recommended that I emphasize pictures that showed me with the surf board on the beach rather than the ones that showed me with the surf board in the water. Ouch!
You can check out some of our pictures from Iguazu and Floripa here. What's next for us? We're heading up the coast to check out some more beaches and take some yoga lessons. Hopefully then we'll feel more rested. I know, I hate me too.