Girl From Sao Paulo

"you are crossing the tropic of capricorn".

04 January 2011

Emerald Green (Esmeralda)

Esmeralda

When I first started visiting Brazil, during those two week- rushed vacations so common in the US, where we ran between the city and the farm in a hurry to reconcile all the family affairs while at the same time trying to pack in our much needed rest, I often asked my husband about the beaches of Brazil. Those lush and exotic tropical beaches of fashion magazines and movies, the infamous Copacabana and Ipanema were for a long time part only of my fantasy world.
It was only after we relocated to SP that we finally got to spend a weekend at an aunt’s house in Ubatuba. From the house built on the sand, one can hear the soothing coming and going of waves lapping on the shore, a sound that sends me back to my childhood spent on the shores across the ocean in Europe. All my life I have been near the sea and found comfort in it’s vastness. Even that far back, I remember sitting on the beach, watching the horizon far away, in a complete state of intimacy with the ocean. I anticipated the moment when a ship would sail over the curve that divided our known world from the rest – too distant and mysterious to be understood. What would it feel like to be absolutely surrounded by water? I learned history and geography at school and imagined the navigators in the 14th century braving the sea in their frail and rudimentary ships, stubbornly defying the notion that the world was flat and the end of it was someplace ahead. During this first weekend in Ubatuba the rest of the family decided to go to town and I stayed behind alone so I could “nap” ( a much more acceptable excuse than telling them I needed and wanted to be alone). They left happily and I stayed behind with my ocean.
I walked to the shore and dived into that emerald water letting myself stay submersed long enough to find the eco like silence one can only find in water.
The ocean in Brazil is warm, amniotic. In Europe and the Northern East Coast of the US the water is cold and forces the body to move fast, but there in the tropical waters of Ubatuba I felt myself embraced, protected. When I could no longer hold my breath I floated to the surface and realized that instead of facing the ocean I had turned and was now facing the beach. There was not a soul around and the houses, camouflaged by the dense tropical forest - were invisible. In a stretch of imagination I fancied myself a navigator, dropping my anchor here for the fisrt time. After countless days at sea, under a merciless sun and at the whim of winds and rain, could they have believed themselves to be alive as they came face to face with this stunning emerald coast?
Then I asked myself: as they saw the lush and vibrant trees and felt the gentle breeze swey their boats towards the beach … did they perhaps believe they had reached paradise?

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