Category Archives: Uncategorized

From the bus stop to the bicycle


The bus stop, where I was spending much of my time.

A couple weeks back, I had to make a touch decision about my living situation.  I loved living with my Brazilian family, Susana, Hugo, and Daniel.  Everynight, I could plop down on the couch with them and unwind, watch Brazilian soap operas with Daniel, discuss feminist literature with Susana, and enjoy home-made drinks by Hugo. They cared for me like my own family and we got along famously. The only glitch was that they live in a neighborhood from which it is rather tricky to reach the beach by public transportation.  I was spending one and a half hours every day to get to the beach, and another one and a half hours every day to get home.  At first it was an enriching exercise in patience and slowing down the pace of my life.  But after a month, even with employing a Zen Buddhist outlook, 3 hours a day on public transit seemed too much.  Since my adventure and project were about surfing, it seemed to make sense to

On my surf bike with my new digs in the background.

relocate closer to where the waves were breaking.

So, with their blessings, I have recently relocated to a friendly hostel close to Joaqina beach.  Hugo lent me his bike, which he only uses in the summer, and I got a little surf rack to put on it.  Now I can get to Joaqina in 10 minutes on my bike.  If the waves are better elsewhere, I am also just  10 minutes by bike or bus from 3 other surfing breaks which work well on different wind and swell directions.  Vida Boa!

With my dear friends Daniel, Susana, and Hugo, after eating many oysters!

I still visit and keep in touch with my familia Braziliera, and I am eternally grateful to them for their kindness to me!  To celebrate our time together, we went for oysters at the famous Riberao da Ilha.  (seafood as fresh as you can get it, you can look out off the waterfront veranda to the farm where they grow the oysters!) Here I am with my Brazilian Family!

Through the jungle, over the mountain, to the beach


Its winter here in Floripa, so not every day is beautiful.  We had a long stretch of cold rainy days, which finally came to an end last week.  To celebrate, I went on a little surf adventure which soon became epic!

Here’s the story:

School started yesterday so the buses are full of cute Brazilian sprouts,

This map shows Barra da Lagoa (A) and Praia da Galheta (B). The big body of water to the west is actually a lake, Lagoa Conceicao.

(bonitinhos) clomping on and off with their cartoon backpacks and their school uniforms, which, like many things in Brazil, are pretty relaxed  – and take the form of a cotton shirt or hoody with the school name.   I take the bus to a new beach where I have not yet been, Barra da Lagoa, not sure what I will find.  Each beach on this island is surrounded by its own little village with its own special feel.  Today I take the bus over the mountain to Lagoa Conceicao, and then over another mountain, along a coastal route that winds in and out of clutttered little villages along the shore until I finally reach Barra da Lagoa.

Barra da Lagoa beach

This is a wide open wonderland of sweeping crescent shaped beach,  with a vibrant sprawling town of small buildings backing into it  — very different than any place I have visited thus far.  The big beach looks out on its own collection of little islands, and is lined by open faced restaurants and shops.   Brightly colored houses seem to tumble down the forested headlands on the south end of the beach in bougainvilla clad glory.  Everything is perfect today except for one thing:  my surfing set up is all wrong.  The waves are very very tiny.  Perfect for a chill day with a big longboard, but not so good for my shorter board.  Still its a beach, and the sun is shining, so I am ready to have fun with what I’ve got.

As I wander down the beach looking for the best spot to put in, a run into a

The pretty bridge on the way to the trail up the headland

crew of Brazilian and Argentinian twenty-somethings who are making a documentary about the magic of Florianopolis and they ask if they can interview me.  After offering some valuable soundbites in English about the loveliness of Floripa’s coast, I ask one of the local Brazilians if he’s got any advice for the best waves today.  He suggests I check out one of the two beaches south of here Praia Galheta and Praia Mole.  That seems like a pain, since I am already here, but I am eyeing the waves and thinking I probably won’t catch very much.  For Praia Mole I can take the bus,

This, my friends, is a PENGUIN!

he says.  For Praia Galheta, I’d need to walk, but there’s a path over the mountainous headlands.  My ears perk up!  I’d been eyeing those headlands, with their big boulders perched among giant yucca plants way up on the slopes, and had a hankering to explore them.  I inquired further.  This very relaxed seeming guy told me that the hike would take around 30 minutes, but he couldn’t guarantee the condition of the path due to the recent rain.  He gave me further directions in Portuguese and I nodded my head happily though I barely understood.  It was a beautiful day, and I’d been cooped up inside for the last few.  I was ready for an adevnture, surfboard, unwieldy backpack and all.  Before leaving the beach, my friendly direction giver pointed out to me that the birds I saw floating on the water were penguins.  PENGUINS!!!! I am in the land of penguins.  And the water is quite cold.  But not, I should note nearly as cold as in San Francisco.

The start of the trail…

Thankfully, as I crossed the bridge, with my huge backpack and surfboard, about to head into the jungle with directions I only partially understood, a Brazilian guy who spoke English asked if I needed help and clarified some of the finer details of the route, warning me against a tempting but potentially disastrous wrong turn I could take that would lead to a treacherous rock path along exposed cliffs.  Sounded fun, but not so fun with a surfboard in tow.

And off I went.   Read the rest of this entry


Check out the recent publicity for Surfer Grrrls Brazil!

Thanks Balanced Edutainment and Brown Girl Surf for the love!

Balanced Edutainment – an emerging thought-leadership platform for edutainment and transformational entertainment for youth featured Surfer Grrrls Brazil on their blog.

Fellow Surfer Grrrl Farhana Huq follows the adventures of Surfer Grrrls Brazil (and many others) on her super cool website,


Surfer Grrrls Brazil in the spotlight

Where am I and what am I up to


I always like to know where I am on a map, so here’s a little geographic orientation for Surfer Grrrls Brazil.  I am starting my journey in Brazil on the island of Florianopolis in the State of Santa Catarina in Brazil.  Florianopolis, or Floripa as they call it here,  is the surfing capital of Brazil, and has something like 43 beaches.  No matter what the wind or swell direction, its always breaking somewhere on this island, so its a perfect spot to get my Brazilian surf mojo in order while I work on my Portuguese.  It’s also home to some of Brazil’s best surfer grrrls.  Much of the island is designated as ecological reserve areas (yay!), and there are seemingly endless possibilities for beach exploration.

The idea is to get to know people here, connect with some rad female surfers, surf a ton, create some music and videos, and get some contacts for the later stages of my journey, when I will be traveling up the coast of Brazil.  My partner in grrrl surf adventuring, Miho Aida, should be joining me at some point for that leg of it.

On a side note: upon arriving in Brazil, my computer died.   I depend on it for all my musical and video creations, so I have been a bit stymied in getting started on the multi-media aspect of things.  But I love writing, and I can do that on any old beater PC (which is what I am using now) while my sad little Apple computer travels through the very very very slow purgatory-esque system of Brazilian Apple care.    I’ve been keeping a journal of my travels, so for those who might be interested in hearing about my exciting first dozen days in Brazil “pre blog launch” and pre-camera carrying,  when I decided to just relax and soak up what I encountered around me, you can click below for the full story in the old fashioned format of the written-word.   Read the rest of this entry

Shout out to our supporters!


Its only proper that our first post is a BIG thank you to all our supporters who made this project possible.

Matt Baxter up high in Yosemite. The Baxter Award, which launched me into the Surfer Grrrls Brazil project, was founded in his memory.

First of all a huge thanks to the Matt Baxter III Memorial Fund, the Baxter family, and the Baxter Award committee for giving me the opportunity to dream this journey and for supporting me in living it out.  I encourage everyone to try this exercise that the Baxter family encourages: dream your greatest adventure.  This alone can change you!   It is an honor to be a part of Matt’s legacy and to honor his spirit through my own adventures and work.  I hope that Surfer Grrrls Brazil can ride on that same surging life energy that lived in him: crisp and clear and bright as the heights of Yosemite.

Thank you to NatureBridge and TEEM for sending me off with love.

And an ENORMOUS thank you to all of you who so generously supported Surfer Grrrls Brazil, giving it wings so it can grow into something bigger.

In these past few weeks, I feel like I have been lifted up by many hands and hearts as so many people have reached out to encourage and support this project.  I have reconnected with old friends.  I have met new ones.  And I have been deeply moved by the generosity and enthusiasm you have shown for Surfer Grrrls Brazil.  Thank you!  I must ask you just one more favor, and that is to please share this site, and the media we create here, with others who might find it inspiring.  And if you know of any other groups with whom we should share our message through live visits, please send me their information.

I’d like to send a big shout out to the following supporters:

Krista Comer

Sarah Bridger

Farhana Huq and Brown Girl Surf (holla!!!)

Molly Barry

Trish Jenkins, Jeremy Smith and Cycle Farm in Spearfish

Fang Cai

Natalie Sekowski

Amy Osborne

Doris Ober

Sarah Enders

Nancy Shea

Beverly Cherner

Rachel Loud

Pat Kennelly

Qi Feng Lin

Nancy Bruneau

Tim and Tivani Wong

Rebecca Onion

Xiaoting Hou

Sam Sadin

Mary Rogalski

Josh Cohen

Jamie Laurie

Janardhan Manickam and Ruth Schmid (thanks Mom and Dad!)

Andrey Pfening

Samir Succar

Galen Peterson

James DeGolia

Kyle Williams

Rebecca Offensend

Alvaro Redondo Brenes

Stephanie Somersille (who is awesome and who I met in the airport shuttle!)

Karen Stamieszkin

Kate Boicourt

Colleen Murphy-Dunning

Sarah Charlop-Powers

Amy Brady

Tina Ludescher-Furth

Mira Edmonds

Anna Ruth Pickett

Dan Flanagan

Anastasia Vrachnos

Jaime Carlson

Alison Bridger

Eddie Gonzalez

Kristine Deni and Richard Levandowsi

Adrian Deveny

Ari Bain

Jesse, Bri, and Lucie Langille

Kira Gagne (my amazing sister!)

Patti Moore and P Rhumpa

Todd Gartner

Ed and Linda Schmid

Emily Enderle

Bella Gordon

Dirk Steckhan

Kara DiFrancesco

Natalie Ceperley

Jackie Smith

Laura Alex Frye-Levine

Daniel Steinberg

Elizabeth Kavanagh

Tara Moberg

Tamara Gagnolet

Aimee Danch

Drs. Meera and Bonnie Srivatsa

Brandon Whitney

Michael Deni

Diane Goff

Trisha Shrum

Pahoua Lee

Kristen Graf

Meg Arenberg

Jack Yeh

Steve Abatiell (fellow Baxter award recipient!)

Wenxian Yeo

Maryam Roberts

Julia Turner and Ben Wasserstein

Gary Apter

Emily Zastrow

Mark Zumwalt

Danny O’Grady

Reece McGowen

Pete Schmidt

Luis Montoya

Elizabeth and Jerry

Tim Eakins

Alice and Jim

Cristie Ellis

Fred Strebeigh

Dave Room

Kalila Feineman

Susana Borneo Funck, Hugo Truffel, and Daniel Funck

Also a big shout out to Princeton in Asia!