Florianopolis. Or Floripa. Or “the magic island”.
“Do you know why it’s called the magic island? Because once you come here, you just want to stay forever”.
I’m sitting here, on a bench in the little central square in Lagoa da Conceição. It’s Sunday and there is this artesano market taking place. This guy on my right has made toys of incredible imagination and ordinary material, like cut plastic bottles, string, ribbons and paint. I bought from a middle aged smiling woman three earrings, each one with a feather of a different bird. I also bought two maracas, which look like two big dried peanuts, and a bamboo flute. Simo, with his shy blue eyes and sun-burned curls, showed me how to hold it right to make a sound. I had a falafel from the canteen of a Syrian guy and a beer from the super marker, just across the square. A few guys and girls from France, are playing swing singing along.
Like locals say, “Florianópolis è un mundo differente”. That guy from Colombia that works in the hostel told me that once you leave this place, you need some time to “recover” from this utopian happiness and relaxation. “Utopian”?
An island that has everything to offer. The lake, Lagoa da Conceição, with its oil-calm water and the life that has developed around it. The little restaurants, the main square, the surf, kite surf and stand up paddle clubs, the surf culture, the hippie life, the skaters, the kids playing freely, the fishermen, the outdoor music, the graffitis, the people from all over the world that chose this island to live a quiet and joyful life.
That couple of hours I spend completely alone in the silence of the white sand dunes made me realize that the sand shares a mysterious quality with the ocean. It lies on the ground as peaceful as the sea, but soft, tangible and absolutely silent. I was sitting there on the sand, clearing up my mind while my eyes could only see bright sugar white around, with a touch of gold. If you cross this little land of sand you reach the long Joaquina beach.
In an eastern corner of the island you find the little paradise of Barra da Lagoa. Here you find just a few taverns along the beach, little houses, quiet hostels in dense green, a quiet river that comes from the lake and reaches the sea, a small bay of the lake with fishing boats and seagulls and secret paths on the mountains that lead to stunning sea views. I had the chance to meet a few people from the Argentinian hippie community that live in Barra. Most of them said “I once came here for holidays and I decided to stay”. Maria showed me her little wooden house and we had an Argentinian mate with her friends.
Every night, I would find a place with live samba music, I danced and I danced, different partners, different moves. The local musicians, the caipirinha in its country of origin, the faces I met again and again, the smiles that got familiar, the passionate lyrics of samba, the capoeira on the street and on the beach, the after-party street beers.
My plan was to spend five days in Floripa. I spend one month; one of the most peaceful and free months of my life.
Some photos of my beloved Barra da Lagoa: