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.) 

Loving all the dune buggies that blast along the beach.  This outpost is one of a few fishermen’s collectives in the area, where nets and small boats are housed alongside plastic chairs that are pulled up for nets to be mended, fish tales to be swapped and beers to be drank.
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…
5 years ago in Los Angeles, we had a little boy that died due to complications from a home birth.  His name is Aaro.  It is the deepest loss imaginable, a sorrow beyond and an unchangeable reality.  We have come to accept simply that which is, cannot be undone.
Colette, conceived on his 1 year anniversary, has a sparkling relationship with him, one that we never imagined, but that stirs us deeply.  We tried to conceive before, but did not.  It seems Aaro wanted us to know that he sent her to us, he lives on in her and with us.  Colette’s delivery was highly mechanized- induced at 40 weeks, with wires and bells and whistles everywhere- but after our previous experience it seemed the best answer.  We gladly traded our ‘expectation’ of a natural birth for the experience of having Colette.
For Sierra, perhaps my last pregnancy, I have hoped and prayed for a natural delivery.  To have the opportunity to see this process through by my own volition.  At 40 weeks, we had a checkup and all was fine.  At 41 weeks (Aaro was born at nearly 43 weeks), we went to Hospital Universitario to induce labor, however the hospital was full- so after confirming baby was ok, they sent us away to come back in 2 days!  Colette was at our friends’ house and we were all prepared- agh- what a disappointment! Wary of going too far ‘overdue’ it was really challenging to be at peace in these last days before holding our babe safe in arms.
When we went back in to induce Saturday morning, I was now at 1cm- my body was preparing on its own!!  It was a small victory and I felt hopeful that this experience could be all I had meditated for.  We proceeded with a cervix ripener which is a tampon like insert, and quite mild, not a full-on pitocin drip.  After a 3 doses starting at 1pm, my water broke at 9pm and the mild, smooth breathing was traded for some full-on labor.  At 3am or so, I was 4cm.  At 6:30am, I asked Adam to get the doc to check how far I was because I wanted to push.  Doc checked and said 6cm… I was crestfallen. Mentally I was overwhelmed, thinking it impossible to make it from 6 to 10 if for all that soul-melting labor it was only 2cm… I had to change my position and location, so got up to go to take a shower… I felt her shift and come down.  I was fighting the urge to push, as I was only at 6cm… but it was such an all-consuming envelopment.  I was no longer in control of my body, Adam describes it like a little robot was inside controlling me.  After a push, and Adam reminded me I couldn’t push at 6cm or risk injuring myself and baby.
I reached down…  “Adam, I feel a head! Go get the doctor!”  Clearly I was more than 6cm when the doc checked and when I stood/ shifted position, she came down into the birth canal and I fully dialated.
She came in and checked ” Yes, that is the babies head, you can push!”
I put my foot up on the toilet and she said “Ok, here?”
“How about the bed?” Adam suggested
“Oh, no, let’s go to the birthing room!” It had a great birthing bar over table with a cutout place to squat, which I was excited to use.
Doctor laughed and said “You are not going to make it that far!”
Back at the bed, I was finally, finally at the moment I had prayed for.  I pushed with every fiber of my being, and soon, the best sound emerged from our sweet Sierra Luna, her victory song!  Welcome to your family our little love, we are so happy you have joined us.

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)
During their stay at our house, we left our front door unlocked so they could access the toilet in the middle of the night. One morning, Graeme called into us “Ummm, guys… you should come out here…”  We emerged from the bedroom, and discovered we had been ROBBED.  Emily, being on new mama-mode nursing every two or so hours, said ” I heard somebody last night, but just figured it was you guys.  And whoever it was went to the bathroom! “
We thanked the stars the thief who SO brazenly entered our house did not get Adam’s camera or injure us in any way.  He DID get plenty else in the 3 minutes in the house…  a wide angle lens, Emily’s vintage 2nd hand laptop (that strangely had stopped working 2 days earlier, and we had planned on taking to the repair shop that day for further investigation, so haha you icky thief, you stole a broken laptop), an iPhone that someone had generously gifted us last year after our van was broken into in Cusco, Colette’s collection of DVD’s, an external hard drive (with all of our birth and hospital photos! This is what pains us the most- these irreplaceable intimate moments), various chargers (to none of the things they stole), Emily’s makeup bag (they removed the jewelry and mascara, but kept the rest of the makeup, a most perplexing note) and a Poler backpack to stash it all in.  We also found an empty bag of cookies and the crumbs scattered about the yard.   WTF?!
Police came to the house, then we went to the police station to file a report; they were of no insight or assistence.  We went to the neighbors,  who have several video cameras looking onto the sandy road leading to the beach- and YES, their cameras were on.  A week later, they confirmed they saw the thief enter the yard at 3am as Emily guessed the time to be, and less than 5 minutes later return with a full backpack, hood up and walking in a strange manner to the beach and disappear into the night. Robbed, but all well.  Shaken, but safe.
Near the Lagoa, we spotted another van-dweller.
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.
Coco & Lucas love to be tigers who explore the jungle (as seen behind them).  Practicing her ‘tiger eyes’ Colette channels her Chinese zodiac for inspiration.
Sierra has (knock on wood) only given us two rough nights thus far.  She co-sleeps with us in the family bed, which allows for easy nursing and many middle of the night (cloth) diaper changes.  She has a crooked little smile that melts our hearts.Being in Brazil, there are loads of tropical fruits and veggies- we have to say, this ready-made assortment of chili’s was the most diverse we have yet to see.  It was a bit of roulette as some really brought the heat inducing sweats and clammy foreheads and some barely tingled the tongue.  Roasted and thrown into beans, chopped and sprinkled on salads, blended with generous amounts of garlic in hot sauce… these beauties made many meals a more invigorating affair.

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!
Emily’s best friend and former design & business partner Michelle, has started a children’s clothing line UltraVioletKids and sent some pieces down with Suzie for the girls.  She makes great styles for both girls and boys from infant to 6 years old- check them out!
This is perhaps my favorite photo of Colette & her Oma- they both radiate all the love they bring to our lives & share with the world.
Coco was thrilled to have Oma to push her on swings, blow bubbles with every morning, read 100 million books, tickle her and otherwise spoil Colette with her attention.I was very busy tapping away on a borrowed computer from the very kind neighbor, Simone (an Italian screenwriter) for much of the two weeks that Suzie was visiting Brazil- organizing the backend stuff for 24 Hour Bazaar.  We went to the beach to make sand castles, spent long hours chatting, found parks to play at, and ran bunches of errands pertaining to Sierra’s passport(s).  Our time together wasn’t spent going sightseeing, so much as simply seeing and being with each other and the girls.  Having just given birth, to have my mama near was such a grounding experience that I am so thankful to have had.  A wealth of knowledge, I have learned so much from this woman who lives guided by her heart, which is the example I hope to pass on to my children.   3 generations, gathered under one roof- what a wonderful time we had! Thank you for coming to be with us Mama!

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.
After chores in town one afternoon, we headed to explore the north end of Florianopolis.  Here is lovely Ponta das Canas.  At Praia da Lagoinha, this local fisherman showed us how he dexterously wove his net. 
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!
Snugglin’ sisters.
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!