The following journal sort of breaks my usual format for several reasons...most dealing with the fact that my BAC was at a costant .2 for most of the events described. Anyway, this reads more like a summary (except for the first night) but trust me when I say there is little about this trip that I will forget!

December 26-January 2, 2004

I arrived in Floripa on the bus from Paranagua at about midnight the night of Xmas. We didn't really have the houses rented until the next morning so my plan was to check my bags at the bus station, find a place to party all night and then return for my bags in the morning and go check in to the houses. That was a pretty good plan I thought, but I was a little worried about the execution of it...especially since it was the night of Xmas and I didn't know how many options I would have.

When I arrived at the bus station, I found out that the local buses had just stopped running. That presented a problem because I also found out that the area that was known for going out was a solid 25 real cab ride away from the bus station. That was way to expensive for me to spend and not know if the bars would even be open when I got there. It would be a 50 real risk that I couldn't take. I decided I would go talk to the Taxi drivers and ask them if they knew a place closer to the centro that might be open. I was talking to them for probably 15 minutes as they were trying to help me figure out the best option. While I was talking to them just outside the bus station, I noticed these 3 other guys enter the bus station and then a few minutes later they were sort of wondering out, without their bags with a sort of "what do we do next" look on their faces. I said to myself, "those guys are doing the same thing I am." I went over and talked to them and I was exactly right!

They were three guys from Belo Horizonte that also had a house rented starting the next day. We had a little team together so we all got a cab together to Lagoa de Conceicao, the aforementioned area that has a lot of bars.

Not only were the bars open when we got there...they were packed! The streets had people roaming all over the place and I was pleased to learn instantly that all the rumors I had heard about the women in Floripa were true! They are absolutely gorgeous. We roamed the streets...hit a few bars and then ended up going to this great club and partying the whole night there. The Belo Horizonte guys were cool and I was glad I ran into them.

We headed back to the bus station around 6 a.m. and we went our separate ways (their house was in a nearby town, not on the island). I called up the woman, Marina, who my friend Steve had rented the houses from. I was the first person to arrive so I had to get the keys. I had called Marina the previous day to tell her I would contact her in the morning. It was only about a quarter to 7 when I called her so I felt a little bad, but I was dying. I hadn't slept all night and the previous night I had barely slept because I was in that little shelter on Ihla do Mel. I woke her up but she agreed to meet me in an 45 min. because she told me the bus would take about that long to get there.

I went over to the terminal and got on a bus to Barra de Lagoa. I was done for so I asked the cobrador (guy who takes the money) to wake me up when we got to Barra de Lagoa. An indeterminate amount of time passed and he woke me up...the problem was I had no clue where to get off and I wasn't exactly in the mood to go searching the streets carrying my pack. So I had the address of the houses and I was showing it to the cobrador asking if he knew where it was...which he didn't. I woman on the bus asked where I was going and I showed her the piece of paper and she's like, "I'm who you are looking for...I'm Marina!!" She just happened to be on the same bus as me!! Pretty sweet. We went directly to the houses, she gave me the key, and I was able to grab some much needed sleep.

When I woke up several hours later, the first of many people, Joao had arrived. We hit the beach and several hours later, 3 others, Kleber, Aldo, and Priscilla showed up. That first night we were the only ones in the house. The others would be arriving the next day.

I could probably sum up the entire week in Floripa with something like...woke up, started drinking, went to the beach, took a nap, went clubbing. That was pretty much the summary...however there was MUCH more to the entire week. It was a perfect time. We were 15 people in all in two houses...everybody was cool and nobody knew everybody...just several different groups came together. There were half gringos and half Brazilians and half girls and half guys. There are a few things I'll just briefly mention here, but there are really more isolated stories or highlights that will really just serve as a memory for me.

Steve had a story for the ages about his arrival in Brazil, which literally included an escape from the federal police and illegal entry into the country (purposely withholding details). Now that is a guy who is willing to do anything to party. His friend Damon was the man though...he made his way all the way to Floripa and to the houses with no clue where he was going and without knowing a word of Porteguese.

The best club we hit that week was a place called "X" that is a MUST do for anyone who goes to Florianapolis. A huge club with a capacity of a couple thousand...several dancefloors, including the best hiphop DJ I heard the entire time I was in Brazil.

I also had a great time making my return trip to the Cafe Cancun in the centro, which was the site of a seriously good time on my first trip to Brazil. Damon and I met one of the prettiest girls I've seen in Brazil that night and we didn't hesitate to take pictures!

There were a few negatives about the trip but they were minor. We had a SERIOUS problem with the ATMs and getting money. The island becomes SO packed during this time of year and there are very few ATMs...not a good combination. We had a lot of trouble, not only finding places to get money out, but also with the traffic that was absolutely horrendous! Steve and I spent 6 hours one day just going to and from the centro...normally a 40 min. round trip! And even after all that, I STILL wasn't able to get any cash. I had to stand in line where people were buying bus tickets and get cash from them and pay for their tickets with my card. Things had gotten that desperate!

Probably the major highlight of the trip and the week was that we met these 3 other American guys who had one of the phatest, if not THE phatest house on the whole beach. They were all doctors who had gone to med school together. Great partiers and great guys. We ended up partying at their place a couple of the nights...and they were nice enough to throw a fantastic NYE bash that was absolutely unforgetable...which culminated with an amazing scene out on the beach.

One side story that must be told but can't really be told in full. After the 3 docs agreed to throw a NYE bash at their place...Steve and Damon made up some flyers so that we could pass them out to girls on the beach. On New year's eve during the day, Bert and Steve headed out to praia Mole to pass out a few. They ended up meeting two girls who were there on the beach with all their stuff and no place to stay. Steve offered them a place to get cleaned up and invited them to the party with us. They came back and ended going to the party with us and that turned into a (this is going to be a MAJOR understatement) rather fortunate turn of events for Bert and I. A great party, followed by a dancing in a random bar on Praia mole and then the "barraca" incident...with the night finally ending with all of us passing out on the beach at 8 in the morning. A classic night that will definitely go down in history!

Most of all though, I'll never forget the scene at I statd in "my look back on 2003", it was more full of all the Brazilian energy and excitement than I imagined. Standing there in that ocean, just after midnight, looking out on the madness...fireworks, dancing, just an amazing party, I felt like the king of the world. All my adventures of the past year culminated at that point. A perfect period on the perfect year.



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