Florianopolis: Portuguese for Friggin' Sweet

Florianopolis Travel Blog

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As soon as we landed in Florianopolis it immediately struck me as one of the most beautiful and pleasant places I’ve ever been to.  Everything from the crystal clear water to the lush plants surrounding the city to the several mountains around the “lagoa” to the beautiful women (what?) is like something out of a movie.  And apparently it is out of a movie since famous stars build houses here as an exotic getaway.  The tour around the island was one of the best things I’ve done so far on this trip. Although it started off a little cloudy and cool, we couldn’t have asked for better weather during the middle of the day.  Bright blue skies reflected on the cool water and it even got a little hot when not in the shade.  Not bad for it being the beginning of winter.  The visit to the scenic vistas on the hilltops provided a great panoramic view of the city in every direction.  Visiting the countless beaches added to the enjoyment and feeling of relaxation that I had been looking for all during this trip.  The best part however had to be the old fort on the coastline that not only provided a great view, but also allowed for some mild rock-climbing to further add to the experience.  Overall, the tour showed me several places to go back and see in more detail before our stay here ends. 
            To add to the great impression of the city, the residents here are very kind and generous – a nice continuation from Buenos Aires.  Despite the language barrier and cultural differences, the natives are more than willing to help you along your way and make your stay in their beautiful city that much better.  But as great as BA was, it couldn’t offer the clean air and water that are staples in Floripa.  Now it is easy to see why the wealthy Argentines leave their country, as beautiful as it is, to come here and play.  I really can’t wait to see what else lies in store.

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Getting around Brazil might be a bigger chore than originally imagined, and the language barrier is the main problem.  Argentina was no big deal since I had a pretty good grasp of Spanish.  Portuguese, on the other hand, is a completely different animal.  I didn’t know any Portuguese before I came to South America, but I had always been told that if you know Spanish, Portuguese shouldn’t be a problem.  That was a lie.  The vocabulary is different, and that’s understandable and exactly what I expected.  However, the pronunciation is completely different, and that’s what threw me off the most.  The good news is we have Portuguese lessons.  The bad news is we’re already in Brazil.  Thankfully though in Florianopolis it is an area where several Argentines come to visit.  This is good because I’ve found so far that I can speak Spanish (and in some cases English) and the locals will speak to me, or at least try their best to work with me if they only know their native language.
            I’ve never known what it was like to be completely unable to communicate in a foreign country.  The best way to sum it up is: frustrating.  Living in Atlanta going to Georgia Tech, and working at retail stores for several years, I have encountered several people that don’t know any English at all.  Trying to find a way to communicate with them was always a mission of mine, however not always successful.  Most times there was mutual patience as we tried to work out problems.  I would listen patiently as they spoke in their native tongue.  Then I would respond (usually repeating the 3 words I knew).  Then they would stare and wonder what I said.  Then I would repeat until they finally understood.  If that didn’t work, out came the pointing and the other primal hand signals and grunts.  I always saw it as a fun challenge never fully appreciating the frustration and confusion they were going through.  Now the shoe’s on the other foot.  It’s still a challenge, but until I learn more than “desculpe” or “obrigado” the fun isn’t quite as apparent.  We’ll see how it goes.

photo by: Vagabondatheart