Snake on the Hill, Corn on the Beach: Florianópolis, Brazil, Jan. 2007


It’s amazing how wired humans are to notice snakes. My husband and I stood on on hill, maybe a few hundred feet above some of the world’s best beaches, those near Florianópolis, Brazil. Turquoise water and white sand stretched for miles above us. A little island stood opposite the larger one where we were, completing the scene.
David was the first to see a greenish-brown snake slither off under a bush near his foot. It took a few minutes for me to stop thinking about the bit of the snake I’d seen and get back to enjoying our hike. I’d wanted to see these beaches for years. My friend, Rachel Layne had put a postcard from these beaches on her refrigerator. I must have stopped a dozen times to look at it during visits to Chez Layne in Boston.

Kindness of Brazilians
David and I made our way around these beaches through the kindness of Brazilians. I left our Florianópolis hotel wearing a sarong tied like a halter dress over my bathing, straw hat and sandals….and walked into a crowd with people in business clothes. Downtown Florianópolis has tall buildings and a lovely proper square, not snack shacks and surf shops, as I’d imagined.
Our guide book had little information on how to get to the beaches on the eastern side of Santa Catarina island from Florianópolis, a city of more than 300,000 that sprawls from the island’s western side to the mainland.
I asked directions in my limited Portuguese. We’d either get answer or instructions on where to get one. More than once, Brazilians who spoke English would hear us speaking Portuguese with other Brazilians, and follow up with us after to make sure we understood everything.
It reminded me of our hotel in Rio. We were the only foreign guests as far as we could tell. The elevator always took so long to reach the 6th floor that we’d take the stairs. We then would see someone a few floors down holding the elevator door, either for friends and family or some strangers down the hall locking up their rooms.
David and I got the benefit of Brazilian generosity one day on Rio’s subway. We underestimated how long it would be for our stop, and then couldn’t get through the crowded car in time. The people around us saw what happened and cleared a path for us. A man getting off the car at that station stopped to wait for us and make sure we knew how to get back to where we wanted to go.
We also saw local ingenuity in Florianópolis. The kid who set up our rented umbrella used a tool made with plastic piping to sink a quick hole in the ground. A man pushed a brightly painted cart for making the popular Brazilian drink, the caipirinha.

A stand sold corn, something we hadn’t seen sold at home on the beach. It’s always neat to see what people have in other countries at the beach. On a trip last year to Mexico’s Pacific coast, we’d seen a teenager in neat black pants and a white shirt selling flan. We’d passed on his offer to buy cellophane-wrapped plates of the custard dessert.
Corn grilled on the beach, that we could not miss. We each had an ear while looking at the waves crashing.
Here’s a video of David at the beach. I don’t quite seem to have the hang of catching audio yet.
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3202563140181383038

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