It’s now 72 hours since I left the Santo Daime ceremony. Things are still whirling around my brain. What happened there? It’s like I’ve had all these concrete things melt away. I had no religious or spiritual tendencies, but now that doesn’t seem so firm. God still doesn’t exist for me, but something went on in there. Be it just the force of so many people who did believe, or the effects of the Daime, or both. But I’ve never experienced such a volte-face.
I tend to be stubborn about my opinions. They only change when factual evidence comes along to prove me wrong. But the swiftness of going from someone who was not enjoying himself at the ceremony, to someone who views it all as a beautiful and wonderful thing happened within hours. This has freaked me out a touch. It’s all very confusing. Not in a furrowed brow way, though. It’s confusing, but I can live with the confusion.
What I do know is that I’ve not felt so calm in a long time. Perhaps it’s just the effect of being on this long long long holiday in a beautiful part of the world, but I was already on my long long long holiday on Friday, and the calmness wasn’t there then. And I’ve done stuff that would normally have stressed me out, and it was all okay.
On Sunday I began thinking about moving on, and I’d been planning to head south to Porto Alegre and probably make my way across into Uruguay by the weekend. But, it’s Easter and the Latin folks sure love that Jebus, so I didn’t want to risk being stuck somewhere with shops and bus stations closed. It’s bad enough trying to remember to buy enough milk in Berlin never mind being somewhere you’ve never been before and don’t speak the language.
Something came along, a bit of work, that gave me an excuse to try and find a hotel with wifi, so I could use Easter to get the work done and pay for another few weeks travelling. Two birds, one stone. Renata suggested Ingleses, so on Monday afternoon she gave me a lift up here to find a hotel. Being a dolt, I didn’t think about packing my backpack and putting it in the boot; I underestimated the size of the island, thinking it’d just be a short hop back to Lagoa to pick it up.
As Renata dropped me off in downtown Florianópolis, and we said our goodbyes with a quick hug whilst stopped in traffic, and she went off to teach a class before heading off to Rio de Janiero for ten days of Buddhist meditation; as she dropped me off, it began to rain. Out of nowhere it began; pelting it down. I walked along the shore and twenty minutes later arrived at the bus station to get the bus back to Lagoa, absolutely drenched.
I queued for the bus, and in this line of wet Brazilians, who do you think was the person that new arrivals in the queue asked, “Is this the queue for the Lagoa bus?” Yes! The one person in the queue who didn’t speak Portuguese. (I was also reading a book, unlike the few people either side of me, which makes it doubly odd that they managed to choose me to ask.)
The rain had stopped by the time I got to the centre of Lagoa. It would either be another bus to where Renata lives or I could walk. I chose the latter. I fancied a nice dusk walk around the edge of the lagoon. But it took about 40 minutes, a lot longer than it had seemed in the car. I worked up a sweat, which, underneath my rain-soaked clothes got a nice stink going on.
I stuffed my clothes into the backpack, had a quick wash, a clean shirt, and was back out at the bus stop waiting to go back to Lagoa. A backpack on my, err, back. A rucksack on my front. And a can of Coca Cola in my hand, and I’m stood trying to give the bus-conductor money as the bus jerks through the gears.
At the Lagoa terminal, I wait for half an hour, then get another bus to Florianópolis. This time sat behind a woman listening to Brazilian R’n'B-ish music on her cellphone loudspeaker. She was one of those nicely-odd people who seem to be oblivious to the world around her, not like the London version of that type of person who likely plays the most inappropriate-for-a-cellphone-speaker music just to piss off us oldies. She kept holding her hand up – like she was trying to attract a waiter’s attention – in time to the music.
At the bus station, I asked several people where to get the bus to Ingleses. Without fail, they all replied that they didn’t speak Inglês. Eventually, a kindly woman in a booth took notice of my miming and helped me out. Sadly, though, I didn’t understand that she was telling me that I’d need to change buses again after the next bus journey. And the bus was full, so I had to sit with my backpack on my lap.
At the next bus station, another wait, another packed bus, and the knowledge that I’d forgotten the name of the hotel, and I didn’t know what the street name was. I had to look out of the small portion of window that having a backpack on your lap allows, and hope I recognised something in the dark. Just as a the bus was pulling up to a stop, I saw a hotel that I’d decided not to stay at, so dashed to the door, dragging my backpack behind me, and walked along the street to the hotel I had chosen. A five hour trip to go just 30km.
In the hotel, up to my room, and the wifi they’d assured me was in all the rooms didn’t work. I gave up on trying and went out to get some strawberry juice. None of the above stressed me out. Last week, it would’ve had me muttering under my breath like a mad man, but instead I had a smile on my face and was dancing in my room like it was 1989, to “Vanishing Point” by New Order.
I have no idea what my brain took in from the Santo Daime, but all I know is that it seems to have done me a lot of good. And I look forward to going back again one day. Anyway, it’s sunny outside, and I’m about 100 feet from the beach, so you’ll have to excuse me, I’ve got some paddling to do.