The Nest // Brazil
Perhaps you could think of our family as migratory birds. For a season we have landed in the country of Brazil, in the state of Santa Catarina, on the island of Florianopolis, in the neighborhood of Campeche, right over a sand dune from this magnificent slice of the Atlantic ocean. We feel as if some divine compass turned our sights here, and we willingly followed that desire to birth our babe here on Floripa which is also called “the magic island.”
Near daily trips to the beach to dig in the sand, stretch a sun salutation or surf some waves has been a dream come true. We have never lived on the beach in an actual house, but have dreamed of it a long time coming. Hearing the waves and wind from the comfort of a full sized bed is a delicious and welcome a treat from van life. We can afford to do so because it is the off-season here in Floripa, where this little casita costs less per month than we normally spend on gas!
“The cure for anything is salt water- tears, sweat or the sea.” – Isak Dinesen, pen name of Karen Blixen, best known for her work Out of Africa
In the game of life, as in surfing- you win some, you lose some, and you can never rightly predict which it will be.
The silence of night is broken, as lights first rays break across the land. Sunrise slowly warms the air, stirring birds from their slumber and illuminating the glory of sea, sand and shore. Giving thanks for each new day with a deep breath and simple acknowledgement, we pray for peace in this world. A world dappled with conflict where planes are shot down from the sky, where schools in a nation imprisoned are bombed, where revolution for freedom is met with violent regimes. We pray the horrors of violence, greed, selfishness and shortsightedness will end. We pray that we as a human race, can join our forces for the good will of others so that we can all coexist in peace. That small kind deeds will not be something to applaud, but met with a knowing nod. That small unkindnesses are not accepted, but met with a word of encouragement to see the good possible. We should, we can, we must- be kind and do good.
Over 6,000 residents of the Azorean Islands were sent by Portugal to populate Florianopolis, and effectively help their claim to the island in a dispute between Portugal and the Spanish in between 1748 and 1756.
June is tainha (mullet fish) season here in Campeche, where locals practice the proud tradition of net fishing. Painstakingly knitted by hand, the fishermen wade knee high into the water and scan the glassy faces of the waves, waiting patiently for the right moment to cast their nets when a school of fish swim by.
Conflict between the fishermen and surfers arise during the short mullet season. Fishermen gather in groups and chase surfers, raising their fists, pleading for them to evacuate the waves as it scares away the fish. Tradition and passion clash as sometimes surfers choose to ignore their pleads… naturally, fights have erupted. (Adam even got some epic photos of this happening one such day, but more on why those are gone later.)
Headquarters of another fishing crew. A sight for sure, these Black Vultures feast on the offal tossed to the sandy shores by fishermen preparing their catch for market. It is not so gruesome as it simply is the circle of life. These birds do not kill, but see waste as opportunity and happily fulfill their ecological niche.
Inside our casita, Adam turned one of the two bedrooms into a temporary art studio. He has finally had the opportunity to lay out all of the vintage maps and scraps that he has been collecting along our travels and work on some ideas that have been brewing on the road over the past 22 months. A new body of work is being made inspired by our adventures through Central and South America.
Emily & Colette worked on a few sewing projects, including a tiny lion for new friend Luz Marina, who celebrated her 4th birthday.
Colette likes blowing bubbles. She likes it a lot. Like really, truly A LOT. It is a passion bordering on obsession. One fine morning we received a Skype call from Meme (Ellen, Adam’s Mom) and we all gathered round the laptop to say hello. Colette, with a small but full jar of bubbles in hand leaned over to blow Meme a kiss, slipped as she stood on the chair and *whoop!* there went the contents of the bubble jar RIGHT onto the computer. Fuck. We quickly said goodbye (ok, we kinda just hung up), powered off the laptop, wiped it down and turned it upside down to keep the moisture off the main components.
After two days of drying the computer out, we tried to power it up. Nope…nothing, zip, zilch, nada. Adam, following youtube instructions from his phone, tried a few ideas, but nothing worked. We took it to a reputable computer shop in Centro that works on Mac, and the verdict was as we presumed- fried motherboard. Ouch- what a major freakin’ bummer! This tool is not only how we create our blog to share with you, but how we make our income- through Adam’s photos, Emily’s writing and 24 Hour Bazaar.Locked & loaded, we set off early one morning for a long hike, hoping to inspire baby to come join us in this beautiful world.
Burrowing owls, like those we saw in Mira Mar, Argentina- hop along their grassy plot, warming their faces in the morning light. What lovely creatures!
Street art is a huge part of Brazilian culture, adorning many vacant walls with bright murals and dreamy characters.
A fisherman works swiftly scraping scales off his catch.
Lagoa do Peri, with over 5 square miles of water surface, is the largest source of drinking water on the island. The municipal park is a biological reserve, which protects the rich flora and fauna surrounding the tranquil waters. Thanks for the killer optics RAEN!
As the window on our time as a trio closes, we excitedly look toward the transition which lies ahead. Colette is ready for her new role of big sister, and talks excitedly about all the things she will show and teach ‘baby spider rainbow rainbow’… well, as ready as a three and a half year old can be… we are sure she will have a bit of shock in the transition period, but have done our best to speak realistically about what lies ahead.
Our happy trailblazer on the track. “I’ll lead the way, and you can follow me Mommy and Daddy!” This jungle is home to capuchin monkeys, tons of birds and even more butterflies! We didn’t spot any monkeys, but Adam and Colette did spy a toucan, which unfortunately flew off before he could take a picture. This Ruddy Daggerwing butterfly, marpesia petters, eats common fig, creeping fig and banyan trees.
Neon polka dotted trees, air plants clinging to climbing vines, blue spotted butterflies, thick cool air, the unfamiliar cries of birds which escape our sight, the familiar and infectious giggle of Colette… life is good!
Back through the jungle trail, we emerged at beautiful Praia Armação.
At the end of the road, Praia do Matadeiros is a place we originally contemplated posting up at, the dreamy outcropping of houses climb the steep green hill overlooking a prime surf spot. However, hiking 20 minutes in and out while pregnant (and then with a newborn) seemed a bit unrealistic.
The small Ilha das Campanhas sits just offshore separating Praia da Armação and Matadeiros; a wooden catwalk parallel to the river that drains into the sea leads to the green outpost.
In the early colonization period, Florianopolis was an important whale hunting center, and continued to do so until 1973. Armação literally translates to ‘frame’ as in the frame of a house, but also means ‘carcass’ or ‘skeleton.’ Southern Right Whales come to these coves to birth their babies, and were an easy target. Now, these docile creatures are a protected species and a tourist draw to the region. Crossing our fingers that we see some before we depart!
Things are not always what they seem, or what you want them to be, or what you hope, expect, dream, or work towards. Sometimes, things are beyond your power or understanding. Sometimes shit goes terribly, terribly wrong…
She came in and checked ” Yes, that is the babies head, you can push!”
Emily’s hair is still wet from the shower, we are high on love!
After a few hours of gazing into her almond eyes, we could wait no longer to have Colette join us. Adam drove from downtown to Campeche (where Coco had spent the night with our dear friends and neighbors Shirley, Rafa & 6 year old Lucas) and brought her back to meet her new baby sister. Our first picture as a family of four!
Adam never imagined he would have two daughters, and now cannot imagine anything else.
Big sister Colette was kind and gentle, whispering the sweetest things to Sierra: “Ohhh, baby Sierra, I am so happy you are here. You are so tiny! Look at your little fingers. I love you sooooo much.”
Nearly a year ago at a campground in Lima, Peru we met the Bell’s- Graeme, Luisa, Keelan and Jessica- from South Africa, traveling as A2A Expedition. They have now been overlanding for 2 years and just completed a circumnavigation of South America. Hearing they were in Brazil, we insisted they come for a visit and stay with us!
We love to meet other travelers, who have traded the comforts of life as they knew it for the raw adventures of life unplugged. There are many more overlanders out here than we ever knew of before we departed on our journey… in fact, we were not even familiar with the term ‘overlander!’ There are lots of traveling couples (many of them retired Europeans) and single men (we have met 1 woman traveling solo)… but for us it’s exciting to meet traveling families. Many are French- because of the territories they have around the world, their schooling materials are easily accessible for any family that wants to home-on-the-road school their child(ren). We are meeting more & more traveling families out here on the road and think its great! We love this crazy crew! Nasty banana castle! (You had to be there)
Colette has been asking for months and months to get her ears pierced. She thinks they are SO cool (Oma always wears the funnest earring) so as a ‘big sister’ present, we took her to a local tattoo parlor for her first piercings.
Colette knew it would hurt to get her ears pierced, but she would not be dissuaded. Looking so calm before…
… and not so stoked after. Her face says it all, poor bean. She now loves to show off her earrings, which she picked out herself (tiny gold studs with ‘diamonds’ that make a flower design with a pink stone in the middle (although she would have preferred if it was red “because red is my favorite color”). They are a badge of courage… of crossing over from toddler to little girl.
With our newborn babe, we have loaded up into the van and done some island explorations. Lagoa da Conceição at sunset is a great place to be.
Magic happens as this fisherman casts his net into the river leading from Barra da Lagoa to the sea.
There is a bright and vibrant culture in this area. Many live across the channel, which is most easily accessible by a quick poling across the water, Venice-style…
Shirley, from Belem in the north of Brazil, and her husband Rafa, from Barcelona, Spain, have this dear boy Lucas, who is 6. They have been traveling for the past 3 years staying in hostels and traveling by bus, and just settled here in Campeche 6 months ago. Colette and Lucas have a special friendship, and we just mesh so well with Shirley & Rafa, we are so grateful to have met such lovely souls.
For now, life is simple. Life is good.
…but life requires money, that is just how it goes. So Adam departed us in Brazil for Peru to do some business and host a 24 Hour Bazaar. Below are a few pages from the 176 page catalog of fair-trade artisan goods including rugs, textiles, blankets, pillows, bags, hats, ceramics, ponchos and more. If you would like to receive our curated PDF catalogs sign up HERE. Items are available for a limited time only and ship directly from the field to your doorstep. More on his time in Peru in another post, coming soon…
Exhausted at the post office shipping out orders. This is how we fund out travels.
Thankfully, Emily’s mom Suzie, whom Colette calls Oma, came to visit and to help while Adam was away!
Yes, this is real stuff peeps- looking tired, but happy.
After being gone for nearly 3 weeks Adam returned from Peru back to us on the island. Colette kept saying “I’m not a little bit happy you are back Daddy, I am A LOT happy!” Having spent every day together for so long, we sorely missed having our main man with us girls!Emily blissed out on the sweet love of little Sierra babe (oh yeah, and oxytocin as well).
After spending a whole day with the fam just relaxing, it was time to get in the water.
At the north end of Praia Brava, wind swept in with force.
It feels SO good to get the blood pumping. This awesome stroller by Bumbleride is built for the out of doors and ‘drives’ beautifully!
Sierra likes the new stroller too!
Sierra Luna… already so present, so connected and clear, hosting a gentleness and wisdom. Welcome (back) to planet earth!
Most days in Campeche are pretty mellow in the water- but when a south swell hits the point one can witness the worst surf etiquette, or lack there of in the world! With a every man for himself mentality, surfers drop in with wild abandon without even looking who’s coming down the line.
Thankfully there are great opportunities (in winter at least) on the island to find solitude and waves along some stunning hiking trails.
Adam took off one fine morning with a few pals.
In our time in Campeche, Colette has moved from skateboarding the little hill to the big hill. She is always thrilled to jump on her board and bomb the green wave! She really wants to surf, “but you need to teach me how to swim with my face in the water first.” Soon enough Coco!
On an ominous looking day, we wondered whether the weather would change- for better? for worse? or stay the same… We took our chances for same or better, and set off on a family hike.
This horsey loved Colette, as she petted his nose, he would nuzzle her neck making her giggle in delight.
We finally arrived, quite late in the day (but dry!) to the beach. Adam suited up and paddled out into the heavy waves on the island.
As the super moon rose gloriously over the green hills, we set off for our hour long hike out in the moon light and it was well worth it.
We have SO enjoyed our season nesting at the little casita on the beach. Colette calls it our ‘big house’ and the van our ‘little house.’
Preparing to move out of the casita soon… even when chores must be done, there is fun to be had!