For the last couple weeks I have had the joy of living and surfing in a place that the internet has not yet infiltrated. The coast of Bahia, south of Salvador to Ilheus is a world apart. I have never met people more open, more kind, and more generous than the folks who live there. It’s as if the memo about capitalist striving never made it there, and as a result, it is a much more humane and friendly place, where the guy selling soda at the beach will rent you his seaside cliffhouse for peanuts, just because he thinks you’re a nice person, and where people with very little share all they have.
I spent nearly 2 weeks in the perfect little beach hamlet of Itacare, camping with my friends
on a windy hillside overlooking a gorgeous beach and surfing 4 hours a day on nice clean waves. The water was filled with mohawked, loudmouthed, 10 to 14 year old local boys, who could surf like nobody’s business and had no trouble dominating the whole break. I had to fight for every wave, but I loved it, and it made me a better surfer. I’ve never surfed as much as I did there, and I could feel myself improving everyday, just from having so much time standing up on waves. Other surfer grrrls were hard to find, but I
met a couple awesome ladies, Erica, and Fernanda who kept it real and kept me inspired on the break.
After Itacare, I headed down to Pe de Serra – a tiny little hamlet of about 15 houses on a vast beautiful, nearly empty beach south of Itacaré. A good friend of mine from university, Jeff, had lived here for several years while conducting research in a nearby forest reserve, and told me that I HAD to check it out. My instructions from him were to take a bus from Itacare, get off at the bottom of a hill, and ask around for the house of a woman named Maily. When I found her house, I was to
tell her that I was his friend. Armed with only this information, I lugged myself and all my belongings on a steamy bus heading down the coast of Bahia, hoping that my good luck would keep up.
I got off at the bottom of the hill, and the first ladies I met on the beach pointed me towards Maily’s house. I arrived there unannounced in the middle of a little barbecue that she was hosting, and nervously announced that my name was Mira and I was a good friend of Jeff. Immediately her face lit up, she welcomed me, sat me down at a table, and fed me a delicious plate of food. I would spend the next week with her, constantly touched by her kindness and generosity, given without reservation on a moment’s notice. In Pe de Serra, The local 13 and 14 year old surfer boys waited for me every day after school to go surfing, and took me on excursions to far off beaches where we had the whole ocean to ourselves. Every night we sat around Maily’s TV, eating dinner, looking at photos, and discussing the nightly novellas. To make this leg of the journey even more special, I was joined by my dear friend Jack, who was spending only a week in Brazil, and found his way to Pe de Serra to meet me.
I felt like I was soaked in a rich marinade of love for the time I was there. It was tempting to stay forever. But alas, I had to keep moving on. Saudades de Bahia!!!