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RIO DE JANEIRO | TRAVEL
Brazil requires Australian citizens to
carry a valid Australian passport and visa
when traveling to Brazil for any purpose.
Check with their website for updates
your Brazilian visa in advance from the
BRAZIL: IF YOU GO
CATCH A WAVE AT GAY SURF CAMP IN SOUTHERN BRAZIL
Brazilian Embassy or consulate nearest
to your place of residence . The Zika Virus
Alert for Brazil is at Level 2, which means
practice enhanced precautions and
especially avoid mosquito bites. The virus
can be transmitted through unprotected
sexual intercourse, but female-female
transmission is as yet unknown. For
updated information visit the Centers For
Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov).
Crimes such as theft are common so don’t
travel with valuables, or secure them.
Like other lifestyle sports, surfing is part of a culture built
on some pretty exacting gender norms. All you have to do
is flip through the pages of a surfing magazine to see that
men are overrepresented, and even more discouragingly,
the focus on female surfers is on swimsuits rather than
shredding. Still, you can’t hold back an ocean, and a
surge in female interest is driving a new generation of
surfing fans and athletes. Around the world, surf camps
aimed at women and girls are cropping up, but only one
in South America—Gay Surf Brazil by Brazil Ecojourneys—
specifically invites lesbians (and their gay, trans, and allied
friends) to learn to ride the waves.
Although lesbian-owned and -operated, with tours
specifically designed to be inclusive and diverse, Brazil
Ecojourneys wasn’t originally imagined as a gay travel
company. “ We were never keen on offering the traditional
‘gay’ packages,” co -owner Marta Dalla Chiesa says, adding
that she and partner Lesley Cushing were more interested
in showcasing what the region has to offer than importing
existing party scenes. In 2013, however, the LGBT surfing
community site (and force behind the 2014 documentary
Out in the Line-Up) gaysurfers.net contacted them to
propose a partnership. Right away, the pair realized this
was a unique opportunity. “ Surf is a very non-stereotypical
sport for gays,” Dalla Chiesa says. “ Even I was surprised
that a social website with thousands of gay surfers existed.
We knew we wanted to get involved.”
An LGBT surf camp was an idea whose time had come,
and Brazil Ecojourneys—already operating out of a gay-
friendly surfer’s paradise—was the right company to offer
it. Since the 1980s, when an influx of artists and surfers
transformed Florianópolis (known as Floripa) into a diverse
and inclusive community, the formerly provincial capital
has garnered a reputation for welcoming “all tribes.” Dalla
Chiesa elaborates: “For decades, Florianópolis has had a
strong LGBT carnival, and its Pride has become a favorite
among Brazilians.” But this is more than a South American
Provincetown; Floripa is a close-knit community. “ Brazil lacks
anti-discrimination laws, but Floripa has one. Also, a pioneer
health unit catering to trans people opened last year, and
there’s an openly gay man serving on the town council.” And
then there are the waves. The vast majority of Florianópolis
is on a large island (read: tons of coastline) with dozens of
sweet surfing beaches. One of these, in nearby Imbituba,
is Praia do Rosa, and it’s where students at Gay Surf Brazil
learn their moves.
The group’s instructor, Capitão David, runs the oldest surf
school in Rosa and he’s taught more than 10,000 people
everything from the basics (“You must stand upright,
like a king!”) to the advanced art of reading the swells.
With instruction and practice over five consecutive days,
punctuated by two much-needed yoga sessions, guests get
to live the surfing life.
Those unsure about their abilities needn’t worry, either.
“ Surfing’s not for everyone,” co -owner Lesley Cushing
shrugs. While her partner spends the days carving up the
waves, Cushing takes a more laid-back approach to the
camp. “ There’s colonial history, good seafood, and lots of
other activities besides surfing, like biking, walking trails,
and really great beaches to relax on.”
The camp runs for a full week and includes five days of
instruction and surfing. There are opportunities for local day
trips, and arrangements can be made for specific extensions.
Learn more at facebook.com/GaySurfWeekBrazil.
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