PC 63 Santa Catarina – the penultimate southern state of Brazil

Should I have worried when the receptionist fixed a plastic strap around my wrist and said: “Welcome to Il Campanario Jureré”?  It was like that thing they do when you’re an in-patient in hospital, so you, and they, can remember your name, but this was apparently for ‘security’. It was a shade of green that I adore …. but I could have done without it. According to the travel agent, on Ilha de Santa Catarina the place to go was Jureré , some 40 minutes drive north from the capital Florianópolis. After two days we thought otherwise. The pool was fine except the muzak too loud to talk comfortably … we asked for them to turn it down but they said: “no”. Welcome to Jureré!

Although it was low season, and only at 40% occupancy, everything took an hour and a half. We had a problem in the shower in our room; well, actually a major problem –  no water! We called reception – after a long wait they eventually answered and said they would send someone. Thirty minutes later another call, another ‘we’ll send someone’ adding they were very busy. A man arrived, mumbled something, and went away. The words Faulty Towers were beginning to surface from my memory pool. He came back, muttered to himself, fixed it and left. An hour and a half. We showered; unfortunately my towel was so threadbare you could see through it so it didn’t dry well. I almost took it to reception ….. but decided to go for dinner instead.

Most guests from Argentina, Uruguay and some of the locals seemed to be tucking into the buffet …… and an hour and a half later we knew why. We sat in the alternative  ‘bar restaurant’ and waited. Laverina bought the menu and suggested we order our starters and mains at once as they all came together! Not quite sure what she meant at the time, but as we waited ….. and waited ….. her words came backs to haunt us. How long does salad and 6 little cod croquettes for an appetizer take to make? Almost exactly an hour and a half later our starters and mains arrived, together. We decided not to have pudding as …..

We didn’t have Manuel attending to us when we tried the buffet the second evening but Andrico, who had learnt English in London and was keen to impress us with his knowledge – standing too close to our table, he wanted to talk about English football, of which I know nothing, and the European Union, of which I know a little. (But I am being extremely hypocritical here, as my knowledge of Brazilian Portuguese hardly runs to more than ‘boa tarde’.)

After two days we drove south to Quinta Do Bucanero on Praia do Rosa, north of Imbituba. We had arrived! At the end of a sandy track with pousadas left and right, very much like on the Mediterranean coast, a wonderful seductive atmosphere awaited us. … and seclusion. The pousada was cleverly built into the rocky hillside, and consequently on many levels. Our room overlooked the beach and you walked down a steep path to get to the sea, which was a little cool. The staff were attentive, the food was lovely, the massage relaxing and ……… we had that view!

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Praia do Rosa, voted one of the 30 best beaches in the world in 2003

Next to Praia do Rosa was Praia do Vermelha: almost deserted as to access it you had to climb up and around a headland, so few bothered! After three nights we moved on.

It’s only about 250kms to get to the top of the Serra do Rio do Rastro mountains from the coast, a climb of some 1500m, but the final 20 kilometres are extremely steep. We came up behind a lorry which, in order to complete particularly sharp corners, had to reverse! Traffic backed up, the roads wet with rain showers and with low cloud, one could be anywhere apart from Brazil. It was slightly nerve racking and with visibility low there are some anxious moments.

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Into the Serra do Rio do Rastro

The economy of this southern state, population 7 million, is mainly agricultural-based, with apple production and cattle farming abundant; tourism is on the increase. Vineyards abound and the local wine, I’m told, is delicious, the expertise being handed down through the generations by the Serra Catarinense people, descendants of the Germans and Italians who settled here in the C19th. This part of Brazil still retains the traditions of those original European settlers; for example, as we drove into Orleans, the sign over the road declared: “Hertzlichen Willkommen”!

The Rio Do Rastro Eco Resort, in Bom Jardin da Serra, where we had planned two nights was a mistake!! I guess we imagined more of a hotel complex, not a group of chalets lying in a natural bowl …. with no view. It’s the only place in Brazil where it snows every year, so we expected a change of temperature, but the drizzle and cold did nothing to lift our mood ….. so we went to check out the restaurant. After some trout laced with ginger and honey (terribly sweet), I liked the sound of the ‘ice-cream with wild berry sauce’ …. but got some microwaved raspberry jam instead. The alternative was what turned out to be a few strawberries swimming in 500ml of balsamic vinegar and 500g of sugar! Then we decided to spend only one night here!

The following morning the sun came out as we headed for breakfast and the American comedian Allan Sherman’s ‘Camp Granada’ song came into my head. Sung to Amilcare Ponchielli’s Dance of the Hours, it’s an amusing letter from a teenage son to his parents, moaning about his summer camp in the rain. At the end, the sun comes out and he writes: “Wait a moment it’s stopped hailing …. muddah, fadduh kindly disregard this letter.” But the clear visibility gave us a wonderful view from the top.

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We went home …. back to Quinta do Bucanero for one night before flying back to Rio.

More scribbles to come!

Richard – 4th March 2016 – richardyates24@gmail.com

PS When you book a flight you think: “Oh! That’s ok, we leave at 0915.” forgetting if you work the times back you have to get up at 0450 to get to the airport! C’est la vie

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