Hello, my names Kara (Or Carol if that’s easier.) I live on a small island (Florianopolis) in the south of Brazil. It’s only 33 miles long, yet it still takes about 3.5 hours to drive from top to bottom. Don’t even ask me how long it’d take with a bus, I tried it once and it was one of the worst days ever.
Before coming to Brazil my mom would always tell me “Florianopolis cant be a real name, it sounds like a city in Zootopia.” Well, its a real place, I’ve lived here for the past 7 months, and it’s still hard to believe! Everyday I am in awe of the nature around me. The lush green hills, the tall beautiful trees in constant bloom. The clear blue ocean, and the incredible lightning storms at night.
My favorite place on the island is my apprenticeship, CaraKura. Not to be confused with the bird, CaraKura is a small patch of rain forest tucked in beside the hills of Ratones. CaraKura is a magical place, home to a permaculture site, conservation efforts, natural pools, and the cutest batch of people I’ve ever met. Our work at CaraKura verys from day-to-day, and you’ll most likely never do the same thing twice, so you have to soak it all up while you can!
Whether you’re picking jabuticaba, wild strawberries, or pitangas to boil down into a delicious jam, or replanting endangered tree seedlings, there’s always something new to learn- as long as you take initiative to ask questions.
I didn’t necessarily love the nature of Florianopolis, or my apprenticeship in the beginning. I rarely made it to the beach due to inconvenient bus schedules, I missed my beautiful Utah mountains, and I felt bored and unuseful at my apprenticeship. But after 2.5 months of férias (summer break from my work) I was ready to throw myself back into ÇaraKura.
I realized the root of my problems was the language barrier. My first months in Brazil I really struggled with Portuguese, I was unable to communicate properly with my coworkers and I ended up shutting everyone out. After férias, my language skills skyrocketed! I was able to engage in real, meaningful conversations with the people around me. Though ÇaraKuras natural beauty is astounding, the best part of it is the people who work there. By far, – hands down. I had finally caught the ÇaraKura fever, and I loved going into work!
I started learning more about the other volunteers, where they come from, where they’ve been, why they’re here. ÇaraKura is purely based on volunteers- strangers from all around the world find their way here. All volunteers sleep, eat, work, and connect with nature here, for at least a few months.
Once you join the ÇaraKura volunteer network, you’re welcomed into a special kind of family. A family full of love, respect, kindness, laughter, and curiosity. There are often moments at work when we slow down, come together, and just talk for a bit. Those are my most cherished moments here. These people are the reason I love my work, and a big part of why I love Brazil. They’ve helped me realize the beauty around me, within others, and within the work we do. ÇaraKura is important for so many reasons. I couldn’t see it at first, but slowly the truth behind her came to light. ÇaraKura is special. She will take you in, sweep you up, fill you up, and boost you up- but only if you let her.