It has been another fantastic week! Not a day goes by that I do not think of how incredibly blessed I am to be living on this island for the summer!
Friday we got to spend the day at Avai! A bunch of the USAC students had the opportunity to go and practice at the stadium. We were being trained by a group of professional trainers that work with Brazilian players everyday. They had us run through drills and then play against each other. Unfortunately it was raining so we didn’t get to play on the actual field, but we did get to play on an “indoor” field. It was basically just a tin building covered on top and the sides were open but had net on them so the ball wouldn’t leave the field. It was a fun afternoon and really good for my ankle too!
That evening Kevin, Nate, Felipe and I went over to Pat and Annie’s house in Sambaqui. We wanted to get our hiking group from Lagoinha do Leste back together and have another great time, we definitely accomplished that! We spent our evening playing pool, baking cookies and walking along the boardwalk right by the ocean :)! It seriously could not have been even a tiny bit better! It was the best day!
Saturday I got up and headed to Barra da Lagoa! There was a rescued turtle being released back into the wild that I really wanted to see! I had a great time hanging out on the beach by myself for a couple hours, blogging a little and then the unforgettable experience of watching a saved turtle being released for another chance at life!
I spent that evening at home watching the world cup game with my host family and skyping with my family back home. It was so good to be able to talk to everyone and it made me excited to go back even though I am having such a great time here! It was another best day!
Sunday was a resting day. It was rainy outside and I had a lot of homework due for the next week. During the day I just laid around the house and had a day with my host family. That evening was the big finals game for the world cup! Germany vs. Argentina. I was rooting for Germany because I like them better and I think that Brasil would fall apart after their losses and then having Argentina win the cup. Annie and I were going to go to Lagoa to watch and her host Dad and Pat were on their way to play soccer so they were going to give us a lift halfway! We were supposed to meet up with some other USAC students at the Black Swan. Well they lost track of time and we thought the game started at 5 instead of 4 so we didn’t end up getting to Lagoa until the game was about half over. This didn’t bother either one of us. When we got to the Black Swan, they weren’t letting anyone else in and Annie and I had our minds set on getting açai while we were in Lagoa. So we went to the best açai place on the island, enjoyed each other company and watched the rest of the game there with front row seats (there was only one other person there). Afterwards the boys came and met us there and we hung out for awhile talking about everyones day and remembering our night in Sambaqui! It was another best day!
Monday morning Annie and I went to a beach down the road a few kilometers that we have been wanting to visit called Jurere! It was another absolutely beautiful place on the island. Jurere is in the north of the island, which is definitely my favorite. I love the rolling hills, all the vegetation, more open space, and the beaches are vast and incredible. There was a little more trash on this beach than we had seen in other places so we picked up handfuls as we walked and threw some of it away. Every handful makes a difference. The houses there are also some of the most beautiful I have seen on the island! The history goes, it used to be a swampy marsh, but years ago they imported evergreen trees and planted them in the swamp so they would soak up the water and then eventually they could build houses there. About 20 years later the swamp had dried up, they cut down all the evergreens and built houses. Now it is a very rich neighborhood. When they cut down the evergreens, the wind had carried some of the seeds into the hills. Some trees took root and began to grow. Now, the trees are killing the natural vegetation because their needles are poisonous to the other plants. Just one consequence of man destroying habitats consciously and unconsciously.
We spent most of our morning there then headed back to UFSC because we both had class. Later that afternoon was cooking class, but instead of cooking we had a field trip to a local oyster farm in the way south of the island. It took us a long time to get there, but it was worth it! The oyster farm was really interesting. They showed us the whole process of how they get the oysters ready and how long it takes to grow them. I had no idea it was such extensive and difficult work! Those guys work 14 hour days almost every day and it takes 6 months to get ready for “oyster season” which is in the summer, although the grow them all year round. I bought 15 oysters for my family while I was there for R$10 which is about $5 American dollars. After we learned all about oysters, some of us stayed and treated ourselves to a fancy seafood dinner. It was scrumptious! We ended up having salmon, oysters, and shrimp with rice and palm slices. Then we stood out on the beach overlooking the ocean and we could see the lights on the mainland. It is easy to say this was another best day!
Tuesday morning Annie and I were set to embark on another adventure! We ended up stopping first at another beach in the north of the island, Santinho. It was beautiful there! We walked through the water down to the other end of the beach where there was a rocky area. When we stopped in the water and the tide rolled away, a type of water bug that was clear and almost impossible to see started crawling all over our feet! It was something I had never experienced before and we freaked out when it first happened. We couldn’t tell if they were biting us or just crawling on us. It was a weird sensation and they would get between your toes and eventually burrow back down into the wet sand. When we finally got to the rocks we started climbing! We got up on top of some rocks and had an incredible view of the coast on both sides of us! We hung out around there for a little while climbing on the rocks and looking in all the tide pools. I could spend a week looking in tide pools and not get bored! There is so much life going on that you don’t see at first glance.
We climbed back down the rocks and walked through a sand dunes to get to another beach, Ingleses. We took a little trail and right before we got to the end a man was outside of his house. He told us we were the most beautiful girls to have ever come down that path and then thanked us for letting his eyes see us, or something along those lines haha. Just another example of how unbelievably nice the Brazilians are here! We walked the rest of the way and when we stepped onto the beach it took our breath away. It is definitely one of my favorite beaches I have visited! I wish we would have had more time to spend there, but I had to get back for class. We did see a live penguin in the water before we left though! That evening I played my first pickup basketball game here in Brasil! It was so much fun, but I am way more out of shape than I thought I was! My ankle is almost completely healed now too! After basketball, I went with Annie and Pat’s host family to an all you can eat pizza place. It is like a churrasco except with pizza. They bring around about 30 different flavors of pizza and you just tell them what kind you want off of the plate they have. The dessert pizza was the best! They also have a buffet of lasagna, pasta and other italian food but I didn’t try any of that. We were having a competition of who could eat the most pizza and I ate 19 slices! I won but I didn’t eat for an entire day after that. I felt awful, but it was awesome! It was another best day full of like 3 best days all in one!
Wednesday I had a presentation due for my Society of the Amazon class. Naturally, I finished it about 5 minutes before I had to walk out the door that morning. It went great! Then I had surfing that afternoon. It was my last day that I will surf here in Florianopolis and it was a beautiful day. The sun was shining and it was the perfect beach day! I paddled and got more of a workout than I have any other day! I was exhausted when it was all said and done, but so happy with how it ended. If I ever have the chance to surf again I definitely will. This was another best day!
I feel like I do a poor job of explaining how incredible this trip has been for me. Every day is like the best day ever, but then the next day comes and I think it is the best day ever. I am so SO blessed to be able to spend my summer here! When I get back to the states, every day is going to continue to be the best day! There is so much to be grateful for every day, no matter how bad of a day it is! I have a car, I have a house, I don’t worry about what I am going to eat for my next meal, I have a body that is perfect and without disability, my family is supporting me in every step I take. That is a very, very slim list of everything I have to be thankful for.
I am ready for what tomorrow brings, another best day.