I’ve officially made it through my first week in a new country!
While part of me was hoping to create a daily blog post, it quickly became clear to me that I wasn’t going to be able to maintain that plan. The beautiful thing about this blog of mine is that I make the rules. I’ve realized that I should not and I will not stress myself out over a self imposed expectation to post daily. However, I am delighted to see an influx of subscribers, (Thank you!!!) so I will do my best to keep you up to date by committing to post weekly recaps, and perhaps the occasional extra post here and there when inspiration strikes.
I decided to take last week off so I could explore the area and settle in to my home away from home. I’m really happy I made that decision and have had that time. Between the thrill of a new country encouraging me to dive into all of the new experiences, and the inescapable jet lag that travelling across the globe brings, I’ve found myself rather exhausted starting week 2. I can only imagine how much more tired I would be today had I not taken time off from work upon my arrival. But before I go too much into that, let’s dive into how last week went.
Day 2 – Monday, November 8th
On Monday, I walked from my apartment to the co-working location that Hacker Paradise arranged for the duration of the trip. We had a quick orientation and I got to meet some of the other digital nomads on this trip. After orientation we walked to meet even more people in the program for the weekly lunch that’s included in the program. There are roughly 20-25 people on this trip, with people coming to stay for anywhere from 2 weeks to the full 3 months. Networking with these like minded individuals has definitely been one of the early highlights.
It’s such an amazing feeling knowing that I’m not the only person who strives to live life differently and experience new places. I was also captivated hearing what these other people do for work. There are a lot of people working in software, one of them works with Artificial Intelligence, others are entrepreneurs with their own consulting business, some are working in app development… the gist of it is that these are intelligent, hard working professionals. Not the stereotypical free-spirited hippies that want to run away from their responsibilities to travel the world. They brought their responsibilities with them WHILE traveling the world. Being around these people that are living their dreams while making a good living was so encouraging to me, being new to this digital nomad lifestyle. Most of the others have been living like this for a good amount of time, with multiple countries already under their belt. Hearing their stories of places they’ve travelled (some that I hadn’t even heard of) just continued to feed my belief that life like this is not only possible, but worth pursuing.
With hope in my heart that the others unknowingly graced me with, I felt immediate confidence to explore and embrace my new digital nomad journey. After a day of walking around and getting familiar with the area, I spotted the perfect location for dinner, Artesano Pizza Bar. Conveniently, it is just a few paces from where I’m staying. The pizza was so good I devoured it before I was even able to snap a picture, although I did snap a picture of the best cosmopolitan I’ve ever had. Cosmos are my all time favorite cocktail, so I can assure you I’ve had many, from many places, which makes it even more special for me to say this one indeed, was the best yet.
During the dinner that I had planned to be perfectly fine attending alone, some other people from the group spotted me and I welcomed them to join. One of them was Ryan, an American digital nomad that has been travelling the world since 2018. He is staying in the same building as me, and we’ve become fast friends. The other was a woman named Anya, who is originally from Moldova, and has the accent to boast. She told an inspiring story about getting fired from corporate America 4 years ago and how she has been travelling the world ever since, now working as in independent contractor for a software company. I was particularly inspired by Anya because she is a petite woman just like me, but she hasn’t let that hold her back from travelling the globe, alone when necessary. After an evening of good pizza, good drinks, and good company, I finally called it a night.
Day 3 – Tuesday, November 9th
I let myself sleep in on Tuesday as I was still tired from all of the travel and excitement of the day prior. As my day got off to a lazy start and continued on sluggishly, I started to feel some guilt over how time was ticking away. It was now 1pm and I hadn’t even left the house yet. As I was finishing the final phase of unpacking my bags, I had an epiphany of sorts and graced myself with forgiveness. I thought to myself how this was the first time I had travelled for an extended amount of time, the longest I had travelled prior was 10 days. When you travel for a short amount of time, of course you want to jam pack as much as possible within that time frame. But I wasn’t just here to vacation, I was here to live for awhile. It dawned on me that this was a marathon, not a sprint. Every day didn’t need to be filled with things to check off the bucket list. After all, living in another country WAS part of the bucket list.
It dawned on me that this was a marathon, not a sprint. Every day didn’t needed to be filled with things to check off the bucket list. After all, living in another country WAS part of the bucket list.
So I breathed a little easier, finished tidying up my home, and even watched some Netflix. No shame. The weather had been rather cloudy and rainy, which no doubt fed into my slow pace. By 4pm I was back to life and ready to go find some food. If you saw my last post, you know I hadn’t done well at the local Brazilian grocery store to stock up on food for my apartment. I decided to check out a place other people in the group had been talking about, Cafe Cultura.
Let me take this moment to say that Brazilian Portuguese is not an easy language. When you hear it, it sounds like a mixture of Spanish, French, and perhaps some Russian even. While I had assumed my Spanish skills would pay off, I have still struggled, especially on Day 3. So when I ordered what I thought was a chicken parmesan sandwich, you can imagine my surprise when this was brought to my table. On the bright side, the coffee concoction was exactly as expected and delicioso!
After dinner I took a stroll, continuing to get familiar with the area, and then I ventured back home to call it a night so I could make the most of tomorrow.
Day 4 – Wednesday, November 10th
The next day I was ready for more exploration. I remembered that one of the Brazilians at the Artesano Pizza Bar had told me that the World Surf Competition was taking place at Praia Mole, one of the many beautiful beaches. Our group has been communicating via Slack, and I had learned there that traffic on the way to the beach has been absurd due to the Surf Competition, so I decided to venture on foot rather than Uber. It was an hour walk but I figured it would be worthwhile to see the island, and I was correct. To get to the beach I had to walk along the lake, Lagoa da Conceição. It was another cloudy day but still absolutely beautiful to be walking along this new area I hadn’t yet been.
The mountains in the distance were absolutely breathtaking and I did my best to snag pictures, although the camera really doesn’t do it justice. Most of the walk was flat and very enjoyable, but the last leg took me up one of those mountains. I certainly got my workout in but the views from higher up were spectacular.
My hour long journey was entirely worth it when I finally reached Praia Mole. The waves were rolling with the mountain backsplash, and people were gathered everywhere to watch the surfing spectacle. I rewarded myself for making the hike with Brazil’s national cocktail, a caipirinha.
I sipped on my drink for awhile just basking in the atmosphere. When hunger struck I gave in to the sea vibes and ordered myself some calamari with a side of fries. To my surprise the portions were large and I laughed as they were set down. The people around me laughed with me as I’m sure they could now pinpoint me as Gringo that didn’t realize I had ordered the food as appetizer portions, typically shared by a whole table. The person at the table next to me lifted up his drink to offer a cheers.
I ended up inviting that person to my table to share some food after I discovered he spoke English. I learned that he lives in Sao Paulo but was visiting Florianopolis as part of his own digital nomad experience. I’ve learned that this little island of Florianopolis is where Brazilians go to vacation. We talked for hours about our life philosophies, travels, family, even politics. I helped him with his English and he helped me learn more Portuguese. Then when it started to rain and get chilly, he offered me a ride home. Now, the people reading this may be in shock at the fact I took him up on his offer, but spoiler alert: I was not kidnapped and I did not die. I ran all of the safety measures through my head but truthfully, I couldn’t find a reason why this kind Brazilian, who told me of his deep rooted beliefs of accepting others and trying to make the world a better place, would do me any harm. And he did not. He dropped me off at home safely, warm, and left me appreciating our like-minded discussions. That kind of human connection between two people from different parts of the world, is something that I will always cherish.
Day 5 – Thursday, November 11th
Thursday was another slow morning of sleeping in after such an adventure the day prior. The weather was cold and cloudy so I decided to Netflix and chill in my little apartment. I have no regrets over this decision, especially because of the magic that happened right outside my window. I noticed some adorable baby monkeys running along the fence, no more than 5 feet from my window. These little creatures, called marmosets, kept me company for hours. I would have paid good money for such an up-close monkey experience.
By the time dinner rolled around I decided to find a place offering a more authentic Brazilian feel. I used google maps to scout a place and walked the short walk to the restaurant. I wasn’t expecting the chicken to be fried, or the french fries for that matter, but it was delicious. After dinner, I went back home for more relaxing and to decide what I wanted to do the next day.
Day 6 – Friday, November 12th
I spent the previous night researching the best things to do in Florianopolis. Unfortunately most activities were dependent on the weather and the sun was resistant to shining thus far. So I decided to Uber to another part of town and explore the Historic City Center, or in Portuguese, Centro Historico de Florianopolis. Upon arrival, I was taken aback by the views. Even on a cloudy day, it was gorgeous.
I roamed around the city for awhile, and found a shopping mall that I thought might be fun to explore. I was correct, the mall was huge! It was fun to see Brazil all decorated for Christmas as well, complete with people in line waiting for pictures with Santa. Within the mall, I found a Jazz Bar and decided to try another cosmopolitan while I decided on my dinner plans in the city.
Earlier in the week I had scouted an Italian place within the City Center, and the reviews on Google had me dying to try it. Brazil has interesting hours with many restaurants closing during the day and not reopening for dinner until 7pm. If you’re a person that enjoys an early dinner, Brazil may not be the place for you. I’ve now learned that the BEST places are the ones that don’t open until 7pm. I went to a place called Artusi Restaurante and ordered the exact dish that everyone was raving about in the reviews, Gnocchi di Mandioquinha’ Fonduta i Filetto di Manzo. That’s actually in Italian, not Portuguese, and translates to ‘mandioquinha gnocchi fondue with beef tenderloin’. While typically gnocchi is made from potato, mandioquinha is another root vegetable commonly used in South America as a substitute for potato. People. This dish… was amazing. By far the best meal I have had here, to this day that I’m writing this post. I may even have to go back before I return, but hopefully I will find another place that tops it. Although the bar is high.
Acclimating to a new country has been inspiring, exhilarating, eye-opening, and at times challenging. But I’m loving every second of it, and I can’t wait to see how this adventure continues! The weather has been getting warmer and sunnier by the day, so my next post is likely to include more outdoor activities. You can subscribe to follow along my journey, and please feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts on my journey so far, or any suggestions of what you’d like to hear more about.
Until next time, tchau!