a Janela de Marcia Bed and Breakfast

Bed and Breakfast Canto da Lagoa – Florianopolis – SC – Brazil

Posts Tagged ‘ecoturism

Janela de Márcia; Winter in Florianopolis.

It´s mid-September now and spring has arrived, bringing with it rain and flowers, the  drowsy mist that settled over the island of Santa Catarina is starting to lift and a new season is being announced. The heat of summer, Carnaval,  and the beach parties are all distant memories now.  Instead, waves of polar air have come  up the coast from Antarctica bringing chilly rain and high winds.  Florianopolis is a different town in the winter , and I’ve really learned to love this time of the year here on the island. I’ve kept a fire burning in the fireplace, enjoyed fondue dinners , great wine from our neihghbor country Chile and enjoyed staying indoors by the hearth.  For those who visit during the cold months the charms of Florianopolis are not as obvious, but if you know  what to look for, the tranquil winter can be just as exciting as its flashy sister, summer.  I feel very fortunate, because this winter at Janela de Márcia we entertained wonderful guests and shared  some of the joys of the cold months in Florianopolis with them.

The season kicked off just as “o Vento Sul”—those forceful, much respected Antarctic winds—came whipping up the coast officially inaugarating  the winter.  Usually the winds arrive in time to help celebrate Festa Junina or  St. John´s Festival.   At these weekend festas throughout the month of June and well into July, men and boys dress up in old plaid shirts to look like country bumpkins.   Women and girls wear frilly outfits with colorful dresses that look like Raggedy Ann.  Most festivals have a traditional folk dance and hold  a mock wedding which frequently includes a very pregnant bride.  As evening sets there’s lots of dancing around the fogueira, a bonfire set at the center of the party.  The laughter is spiced by a hot, alcoholic drink called quentão and everyone eats tasty sweets made from peanuts and corn or snack on stewed nuts called pinhão, harvested in winter from the auracaria trees of the interior.

Throughout the festival flocks of children run in large packs around the party, screaming happily, wearing fancy dress, and sometimes chasing each other with a tall folklore  puppet  called Dona Maricota.  Some say that Dona Maricota’s awkward appearance and funny dance was originally

fashioned after the tall German women who immigrated to southern Brazil and whose odd appearance frightened children when they first arrived in the region.  Today, kids look forward to this “terrifying” figure and the sweets and laughter she leaves in her wake.

This winter at Janela de Márcia, I have really enjoyed introducing my guests tothe delights of the local Festa Junina tradition.

I have also had the pleasure of introducing my guests to the more subtle joys of the ocean in winter, to the solitary, meditative walks on the deserted beaches. I love to stand on the windswept dunes and watch the sky, the way that grey piles upon grey,  searching for the exact place where the sky vanishes into the moody ocean.

I love to watch the ocean swells rise beneath the force of the strong southern winds, watch the surfers struggle against these powerful tides, sometimes even requiring the help of   a Jet ski  to  tow them in.

I should not forget one of the most beautiful events of the winter season, the arrival of the whales as they make their way up the coast to safely have their babies and mate.   The whales begin to arrive in  August and keep coming until late September, using the bays and inlets of the island for breeding, In the past the whaling industry had radically reduced their numbers, but after a long and combative effort by envirommental organizations the whales are now protected and  in recent years the whales have made a resounding comeback. It´s not at all unusual to see several swimming just off the shore, playing in the surf, throwing their tails high into the air.  It´s also common to see mother whales playing with their young calves, just as they used to in years gone by.

Beyond these joys of winter, I discovered the wonderful bounty of sporting events that happens on the island. I’ve had guests who participated in the National  tennis competition at the courts just around the corner from my house.  There were others who came for a yoga convention (I have learned that Florianópolis is the “Capital” of Yoga of South America!).  Still others came for the famous Iron Man triathlon event .  In future posts I will talk more specifically about these events that make the island come alive each year.  But it’s safe to say, I’ve really enjoyed meeting my guests and getting to know them, preparing their breakfasts with a loving touch, explaining Brazilian customs and habits, and generally acting as their guide into this exciting country.  I feel  that Janela de Márcia is really becoming what I have dreamed of: a true place of cultural exchange.

It is early spring now, the temperatures are very pleasant and the island is receiving its last off season visitors,  who want to enjoy  walks on deserted beaches and  to watch the last whales as they prepare to go back to the south with their  calves. So if you are tempted to see all these wonders for yourself, please come visit.  I look forward to meeting you.  And if not this year, then consider next winter.  While people swelter in the US and Europe, here the temperatures hover around 10 degrees Centigrade (50 degrees F).  You can cool off, put  on a sweater, drink a hot Quentao and enjoy the joys of the Florianopolis winter.

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