Florianópolis is a stunningly beautiful island just off the southeast coast of Brazil. With 42 beaches and plenty of other attractions, there is certainly a lot for me to be getting on with while I spend my semester abroad here.
But, so far, it has proven very difficult to explore at all due to this islands worst feature: its terrible public transport system. Each bus journey costs 3.5 Brazilian Reais, which is roughly equivalent to 50p (plus half price for concessions, including students). It’s awfully cheap so I shouldn’t really be complaining. The only problem is that you really do get what you pay for: buses are unreliable, their routes are ridiculously complicated, and local people seem to be in the habit of telling you the wrong bus number- so, after hours of travelling, you end up in the middle of nowhere and have to spend hours going back!
However, these buses do have one redeeming quality that I love: their book exchange reading incentive. Most bus terminals on the island have a Projeto Floripa Letrada stand where passengers can leave their old books or magazines, and other passengers can choose one at their leisure to read during their arduous journey. According to the Prefeitura de Florianópolis website around 185,000 people pass through the cities bus terminals each day, and there are approximately 200,000 works available to read as part of this project, which first began in 2010. Returning the books or exchanging them for another one is recommended, but not compulsory as passengers are advised that they are also welcome to take books home with them for free, which means that the stands aren’t absolutely brimming with things to read, but there’s usually still a good little choice. I’ve been putting lengthy travelling times to good use by brushing up on my Portuguese grammar with a great textbook I discovered in the central terminal!
Although I’ll never be complaining about the public transport in England ever again (I’ve now realised I was really taking it for granted), I would love to see our train stations follow in Brazil’s footsteps in terms of implementing this fantastic book exchange idea.
By Kia Marie Hunt
The UoB Linguist Magazine
Guild of Students,
University of Birmingham