Thursday, January 01, 2009

January 1st, 2009

It's been a busy few days. We arrived in Florianopolis after a lengthy bus ride combined with a few moments of excitement. Despite being juiced up with Gravol, Emily got motion sick and puked in a disposable plastic “travel bag” I was able to locate moments before the explosion. I had been feeling fine up to that point, but after the encounter, I spent the next several hours trying to keep it together myself and not follow Emily's lead.

After arriving, we toted our luggage the four blocks to our apartment building. Sadly, the map which told us it was four blocks away, was not a topographical one... it was up hill the whole way. Being overtired, shaky from the nausea, and pulling three suitcases and a backpack, I started to have some negative thoughts. Thankfully, those passed with some horizontal, motionless sleep. One good sign is that as we made our way to our apartment, three different people stopped and asked if we needed directions or help. It was reassuring to have people around who wanted to help, but this may also have been a sign of how rag-tag we looked after 3 days of travelling.

Our apartment, which we call home for the next 9 days, is about 300 square feet in total. We have a bathroom, a living area with kitchen, and a bedroom. They were good enough to give us mattresses to put on the ground for the kids, so we all have a soft place to sleep. We have joined some insect families who have been occupying the apartment previous to us. At first we were a bit squeamish about sharing our living space with critters, but since they seem to mean us no harm, we have found a peaceful way to co-exist. They party during the night and we take the day. I have also discovered that I now share my suitcase with a few of them, requiring me to shake out any item of clothing I select, before wearing.

We spent New Year's Eve day and evening with some of Ebano's family, who are renting a vacation home in Floripa for the holidays. They are staying in a beautiful area of Floripa called “Ingleses”, where there are some amazing beaches nearby. Literally, our kids swam in the pool of their home all morning and early afternoon. I had doused them all with 30 SPF sunscreen, and had even reapplied, but the sun's rays are very strong here and most of us have sunburns to at least a part of our bodies. Emily, Ryan and Michael have some small blisters sprouting on their noses and cheeks, as the double affect of the rays coming both from the sky and being reflected from the water were just too much. We now know that we don't go outside long in the afternoon, and that we need to get at least 60 SPF.

Ebano's family was so good to us. Though there was a language barrier for me and the kids, we were all able to communicate well enough, plus Rich was there to translate when needed. For lunch, they barbecued some deliciously herbed sausage and then brought it around to the kids in the pool. The kids looked a bit skeptical at first, as it looked raw, but one bite had them hooked. Each time a new tray of sausage was brought out, the kids jumped out of the pool to scarf down as many sausage bites as possible. We were all starting to feel quite full, when we learned that that was just an appetizer. It wasn't long after that we were beckoned into the house for the main event. We were F-U-L-L by then end of the meal.

We hung out at their home until around 4:00PM, when we headed to the beach. Wow... the sand was like brown sugar, the water was warm like the pool, and the waves were big but not overwhelming. There was a large sand dune bordering a part of the beach. At one point, someone rented a sand sled (much like a crazy carpet used for snow sledding), and you would go to the top of the sand dune, sit on the sled and then slide down the dune right into the water! All the kids tried it except Jillian, and all reported it was a blast. I thought it was ironic to have left a winter wonderland of snow sledding, and replaced it with sand sledding at a beach... all less than a week apart.

After the beach, we went back to their rental home, and relaxed, de-sanded, and the kids swam some more. About 10:00PM, dinner was served (Luc, you would fit right in!), and around 11:30PM, everyone jumped back into a car to head back to the beach for some New Year's Eve firework displays. I ended up staying home with Jilly, who was already asleep, and Emily who was exhausted and who fell asleep soon after everyone left. I enjoyed the quiet for about an hour, studying some Portuguese while watching an English movie with Portuguese subtitles.

When everyone got back home around 12:30AM, there was more food to be had! Some delicious chocolate mousse, some sweet cakes, and other treats. But we were so exhausted that we enjoyed a bit of it and then were ready for a ride back home to our apartment. Because of intense NYE traffic, combined with many road closures for a concert, we didn't get home until about 3:00AM, so it was nice to sleep in today. I just felt sorry for the friends who drove us, as they had to turn around and head right back into the traffic.

We were so grateful for the hospitality that was showed to our family. Ebano's family treated us like good friends, sharing all they had willingly. I wish I was more like them.

Today, we are having a quieter day, staying out of the sun as much as possible. Most all of the shops around here are closed for the holiday, so we wandered a few downtown streets w/o the mash of tons of people around. We found some free open wifi a few blocks from our apartment building, so I was able to check email, etc. while sitting on the steps of a building. I'll have to go back this afternoon to upload this blog entry. In keeping with our quiet day, Ryan is reading an Archie comic, Michael is watching a show on his iPod touch, the younger three are snacking while watching some cartoons on TV that are voiced over in Portuguese, and Rich and I are both typing away on our computers. Nothing crazy to report today.


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