a Janela de Marcia Bed and Breakfast

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

Posts Tagged ‘Floripa

New winds are blowing in my window

Autumn is coming in homeopathic doses – climate change extends each new year with heat waves in southern Brazil until May – and Janela de Marcia watches the arrival of the South wind blowing memories of the past and bringing an expectation of what is to come.

Many special people have passed through Janela de Marcia  in the 2010-2011 summer: I have had the honor and pleasure to receive people representing the five continents of our planet. People who have enriched my life tremendously and that I will never forget.  All these guests arrived with new energy, and through their travelers’ eyes I kept discovering a new Florianopolis at each trail, beach, dinner or night that I could enjoy together with them.

This rebirth of experience has awakened me to a very strong metaphor. When I had my first son, nothing could compare to the thrill of his birth; the love I experienced was so intense that I felt that I could never have any more inside me to give to another child. When I became pregnant with my second child, I wondered the whole pregnancy how I would be able to have love left inside me to give to this next unborn? When Gabriel was born, though. I discovered something amazing inside me. The love I felt for Leonardo, my first child, was not divided or lessened but multiplied by two as if my heart had become bigger …

Janela de Marcia has brought me incredible people every day, Interesting people who become part of my life, and every time they leave me I ask myself how can I ever feel the same way towards someone else? What I have learned, however, is something very similar to what I went through with the birth of my children: each person, each guest, who comes through here becomes a multiplier of my love and when they leave they take a piece of this love to share with their universe.

Earlier in my life, I was the traveler, the one who would say goodbye to home. I was born in Rio de Janeiro, lived in New York, then in Austin Texas, and traveled throughout Europe, to Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, France, always leaving part of my heart everywhere I went . But Florianópolis enchanted me and here I have decided to land. I opened my window to the world and today I am no longer the person who goes away, but the one who stays and watches the others as they pass through on their magical journeys.…

The autumn breeze fills me with serenity and anticipation, as it opens Janela de Marcia into the unknown. Who is coming?


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.

Love at first sight!

I discovered the beautiful neighborhood of Lagoa da Conceiçao on the island of Florianópolis, where Janela de Marcia is located, in 2003. I’d been living in the United States for many years by then—New York, Austin. Then one day I realized I was missing Brazil, my native country. I felt concerned that my children, who were born in the United States, would never learn to speak Portuguese like native Brazilians. I realized that unless I took decisive steps to remedy the situation my children wouldn’t even know the culture and ways of their ancestors.

So I decided to act. I resolved to spend an year in Brazil and reconnect with my native country after twenty-two years in the USA. I am originally from Rio de Janeiro, but I knew that Rio was too urban and violent for me to move there with my children after the mellow life we had in Austin . So looking around at all the beautiful cities in Brazil, I chose the island of Florianopolis, the capital of the southern state of Santa Catarina. It seemed like a perfect place for us. Forty two wild beaches, a big city with the feeling of small town, great climate and several Waldorf Schools*, just perfect considering that all three of my children attended Waldorf schools back in the US. My children would be able to continue their schooling without having to adapt to a new pedagogical system.

Before I made the big move I decided to spend a week in Florianópolis looking around, getting to know the island, and hunting for a furnished house that would serve as a base for my new life in Brazil. But it was difficult to decide where in Florianópolis to stay.

Each part of the island is so different. The island is divided into four main regions. The north of the island is more developed with bigger buildings and, in the summer, crowds of South American tourists. It is an area with lots of hotels, a huge resort, and crowded beaches with warmer water and smaller waves

In the south of the island, by contrast, you find genuine Azorian houses and typical fishing villages. The south is still very wild and authentic with great restaurants on the ocean and amazing oyster farms.

The center of the island is where you´ll find the public market, built at the end of eighteenth century. The Centro, as it´s called in Portuguese, is the focus of commerce and business and is always busy and bustling.

What I wanted was something mellow and funky, close to nature, but lively with lots of people around and things to do. Then one day, while driving toward the south of the island, I passed through the neighborhood of Lagoa de Conceiçao which is located in the eastern part of the island. It was love at first site. Here was exactly the neighborhood I had been looking for—wedged between two gorgeous lagoons, and beneath the lush mountain called Morro da Lagoa, the neighborhood dazzled me with its luxuriant nature. Beyond the lagoons rose the hills of Praia Mole and beyond them a smooth, blue sea dotted with islands scattering out toward the horizon. In the years since then I have not tired of this beautiful scene and every time I see it I feel my heart fill up with happiness. I think of the lines from that famous Bossa Nova song—“the joy in your heart.”

Lagoa, I was happy to learn later after I’d move there, is far more than just a neighborhood surrounded with natural beauty. It also has shops, restaurants, and a happening night life. In addition, Lagoa is the sort of “Brazil” I really wanted my kids to grow up in–a Brazil where people of all backgrounds and income levels mix freely and happily. This was not some guarded enclave of the rich. Nor was it a poor fishing village. Instead, it is the urban center around which the south of the island gravitates and so it is the meeting place of all social strata. If you visit the little marina in the center of Lagoa you will find not only the fishing boats used by traditional fishermen, but also speedboats and cabin cruisers.

Just outside of Lagoa is a small bridge and then Rendeiras Ave with its many bars, restaurants, and even– hidden in the dunes– a rugby pitch used by the local rugby teams. (The Florianopolis ladies seven team includes many of the Brazil national seven a side women’s team that competed in the last World Cup.) At the top of Rendeiras you can rent all sorts of boats and kayaks and peddle vessels to row out into the lake. In the summer time this is a great place to swim, have fun, and then enjoy delicious grilled fish or shrimp in the restaurants just across the road.

In Lagoa one can also catch a boat – a water taxi that serves the coast around Lagoa. This is one of the most scenic areas of Florianópolis and can only be reached by foot or by boat. This wild coast is dotted with little hamlets where life has remained much as it was before Florianópolis became an international tourist destination. You can stop at any of the landings, have lunch, swim, and then return to your hotel by nightfall.

So, to make a long story short, love at first sight turned into a long and enduring romance. There is no place I would rather live in Florianópolis than Lagoa and so that’s why I decided to open Janela de Marcia there. What is best about the B&B is that while it’s just a short walk from all the town’s attractions, it is still in a quiet residential neighborhood and so you have the feeling of actually living in this beautiful town, rather than just being a visitor. Added to that it the special hospitality that we offer here at Janela de Marcia. Taken all together, you will have the sort of experience I want for all visitors to this country—to feel the warmth, joy, and fun of life in Brazil.

* Waldorf education is a pedagogy based upon the educational philosophy of the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner