Surfer Grrrls on Bandcamp, and a dreamy new postcard!


SurferGrrrls_Final_v2I am pleased to announce that all of the songs and videos from Surfer Grrrls Brazil are now available for download at my new bandcamp page,

AND I am THRILLED to be able to advertise it, with this AMAZING postcard, created for me by my wondrous friend Cat Byun. Her art is amazing, and I think it would be awesome if we could see it everywhere, so please check her out!

Life has been pretty exciting the last few months! I wrapped up some of the work I’d been doing with the Green Guard intergenerational environmental hip hop collaboration I started this Spring, I went surfing in Hawaii, and I have had opportunities to share the work I’ve been doing around surfing, environment, hip hop, and healing at Yale University and the Bioneers conference in California.  I’ve been teaching surf lessons through Brown Girl Surf, and I’ve also started up a new Brown Girl Surf Ocean program with Girls 2000, an afterschool program for girls in the Hunters Point neighborhood of San Francisco.  The adventure began through Surfer Grrrls Brazil continues, with new opportunities to make friends, share my love of the ocean through music and teaching, and build the community of powerful surfer grrrls here at home!

Last Video from my journey is finally here! Filmed in Bahia, finished in San Francisco, “This World is Yours!”


This World is Yours by Mira Manickam, featuring Jenny O’Connell on vocals.  Instrumental by Mira Manickam, with live drums sampled from the Didá youth drum orchestra.  Dancing by Jazz Vassar.



It’s finally here – the last video of the trip, from Salvador and the coast of Bahia!

And you can download the song HERE 

For those of you who have been following my blog, you will recognize many of the people and references in this song and vvideo

This video was inspired by the girl drummers and surfers I met in Bahia, the last stop on my Surfer Grrrls Brazil adventure, during which I travelled up the coast of Brazil, meeting other girl surfers and musicians, surfing my heart out, and creating original raps to celebrate my adventures and inspire other girls and women to live their own. While staying in the incredibly musical neighborhood of Candeal, I heard children making danceable beats by beating on just about anything they could find – tin cans, playground equipment, water bottles, you name it.  One little girl practiced singing and drumming on a tupperware container every day on her front stairs. She is featured in this video.  The live drum beat was recorded from the extraordinary youth orchestra of Didá, who I encountered one evening rehearsing on the streets of the Pelhourinho in Salvador da Bahia. The surfers featured here (besides me!) include Érica Prado, and other inspirational women I met in Bahia and elsewhere in Brazil.

Screen Shot 2014-04-25 at 12.57.33 AMIt took me over a year to finally post this video.  My harddrive with much of my Bahia footage crashed and died when I returned from Brazil.  Heartwrenching. Luckily, I still had the footage of the girl drummers, and some surfing footage from my time in Itacare, but it took me a while to piece it all together once I got back to California and had to get back to the grind of daily life. To fill in for the lost footage from Bahia, I did a video shoot at Ocean Beach in San Francisco, and collaborated with my wonderful housemate Jenny O’Connell (the beautiful voice), and the talented Jazz Vassar who I met in Salvador and in our 36 hours together had become a dear friend.  It seemed appropriate that after some beautiful footage of Jazz and I going surfing on the beaches of Salvador was lost in the harddrive crash, that Jazz bring her energy back to the video through her capoeira-inspired dancing on our own California home beach.  Another incredibly generous friend Luis Montoya, filmed for us, lending a skilled eye to the camera work.  It turns out that collaboration really does take you to the next level!!  Please share this video with as many girls and woman as you can.  I have also been performing it alive along with other surf and non-surf related raps I’ve written, so shoot me an email at if you’re interested in a performance.   Thank you to all who contributed and supported!

New Video, “If you Love to Ride,” with the Rocinha Surfe School! Hot off the Press!


Hi All!  It’s been ages since I last posted.  It’s been a whirlwind summer of book tours, coming back to California (yay!), and teaching kids about nature in the Marin Headlands.

I’ve landed back on my feet in California, and while I am figuring out my next steps,  I’ve been keeping up the momentum of Surfer Grrrls Brazil in a bunch of fun ways.  I’ve teamed up with my friend Farhana, and we are now working together on BrownGirlSurf, the organization she started, named in honor of Polynesia’s first surfers, to support women’s surf community and female surf pioneers all over the world.  We’ve started offering beginner surf lessons for women and girls, and the first ones have gone really well, with folks coming back for more!   Check it out here if you’d like to learn!  I’m also representing Surfer Grrrls Brazil at a panel discussion about girl surfers around the world at the Patagonia store in SF on October 8 (The International Day of the Girl!).  More on that to come!  I am hoping that the future may hold further video collaborations with girl surfing projects on the California coast.

In the meantime, I’ve been slowly sorting through and editing all my video files, mixing beats with all my samples, and recording all the lyrics I’ve been writing.  And now, I am THRILLED to present Surfer Grrrls Brazil’s latest video, “If You Love to Ride.”

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This video was filmed in Rocinha, the largest favela in Rio de Janeiro, with original music produced by myself and the Rocinha Surfe Escola and Projeto Maré Mansa, who provided the live percussion track and wrote the verses in Portuguese. While the focus of my journey through Surfer Grrrls Brazil has been my own surf adventures and those of other female surfers I met along the way, each place I have travelled has held its own surprises. In Rio, I was taken under the wing of Bocão the ever jovial founder of the local surf school, which has been providing “rehabilitated” surf boards, surf lessons, and a variety of arts and wellness programming to kids in Rocinha for over 15 years. This transformed my experience in the city as I became part of this loving surf school community, full of fun times and colorful characters of all ages. For almost a month, I went surfing with the kids in the afternoon, helped with English classes, and made music with them in the evenings. The kids loved my raps, and we had great times freestyling together. I asked them, and their talented music teacher Delão Allen of Projeto Maré Mansa, to collaborate with me on a song I was writing which was a particular favorite of the kids (they loved singing, “put your hands up!). In Rio, it rained almost every day, and the waves were either terrifyingly huge or frustratingly non-existent. But I learned from the kids and Bocão all the different ways you can have fun by the beach. The video reflects the real Rocinha I discovered – where more people body boarded than surfed, where there were still a lot of social barriers to girls surfing, but a few brave girls got out there and showed their mettle, where the time we spent on land, skateboarding, samba dancing, drumming, and kicking it around the neighborhood was just as meaningful as our time on the waves.  Enjoy!

Post Brazil – Surfing adventures continue in INDIA!


Screen Shot 2013-05-04 at 3.29.45 AMHi all!   I must apologize for the radio silence.  How does one keep up a blog about adventures in Brazil when one is no longer in Brazil??  I have been thinking on this myself, and don’t have all the answers.  But, it occurred to me that even though I am no longer in Brazil, I AM still having adventures.  So I figured I’ll share them!

When I left Brazil, I had an exciting opportunity to visit a place that has been a big part of my life in the past – Thailand. I worked and lived in Thailand for much of the last decade, before moving to California and becoming a teacher and surfer.  I wrote a book about my experiences in the far South of Thailand, an area which has been suffering from a violent conflict for the past 9 years.  This book was just published about a month ago, and I went to Thailand to promote the book and visit old friends who helped me write it.  (You can learn more about the book here:

On my way back from Thailand, I stopped in India, where my Dad grew up, and I have been visiting family here for the past few days.  While I did have some AMAZING outdoor adventures rock climbing in Thailand, I’ve been missing surfing like crazy.  A big part of my family lives in Chennai India, right on the coast, and I figured I’d try to seek out some waves and some fellow surfers.  It didn’t turn out exactly as I planned, but it was a great adventure none the less.  Here’s a little video journal of my surf day in India.

How to cope with leaving Brazil

One of the hardest things I did before I left was selling my Brazilian surfboard.  We had so many great adventures together it was hard to say goodbye!  But I found a worthy new owner, Tiago, who is taking advantage of his year studying in Floripa to learn how to surf.  I am hoping he will have many more great surf adventures with the Pirate Captain surfboard.  Boas Ondas Tiago!

One of the hardest things I did before I left was selling my Brazilian surfboard. We had so many great adventures together it was hard to say goodbye! But I found a worthy new owner, Tiago, who is taking advantage of his year studying in Floripa to learn how to surf. I am hoping he will have many more great surf adventures with the Pirate Captain surfboard. Boas Ondas Tiago!

A few days ago I got on an airplane, with sand still on my feet and salt still in my hair, and left the sunkissed wide open coast of Bahia.

I landed in Florianopolis, where I had 2 hectic days to reunite with my host family, have lunches and dinners and samba dances with my beloved friends there who I hadn’t seen in over 4 months, and organize all my belongings for my flight back to the United States.   After that, I sprinted to the airport, got on a plane, and left behind the green mountains and crystal beaches of a Brazilian summer in full bloom, and landed in cold, wet, snowy New York City.  The transition has been jolting to say the least.

My mom and dad have been hosting me the past few days, and I’ve had lots of quality time to share my adventures with them and snuggle down in a warm cozy couch and reflect on my 6 month journey in Brazil.  I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all that I have been allowed to experience, and the incredibly kindness of the people who I met and who took me in.   To write it all down here might overwhelm my readers, the list in my journal stretches across 9 pages.

Instead I will share something else.  While I have been struggling with the fact that I miss Brazil like crazy, I have also made a list of things I can do to keep Brazil with me.  Here are a few:

Ways to Keep Brazil Close, even when you are far away.

Live in your body like they do so well in Rio, where grown ups and kids ride skateboards to the beach, because skateboards are really fun!  Where kids are always practicing carthwheels.  Where half the city surfs.  Where my friend Bocão always thought to throw a slackline in the backpack, just because its fun to challenge your body and do tricks with it.  Where I saw one of the runway traffic controllers at the airport in Rio, who looked a bit bored sitting on the edge of the runway, do a backflip just to pass the time as my airplane took off.

Be helpful and friendly to strangers, like all the people on the buses of Salvador who helped me get my surfboard over the turnstile or helped me carry my luggage down the stairwell.  It diminishes the distance between you and others, and makes the world a much gentler and kinder place.

Keep an open hearth and home – like Susana and Hugo and Daniel who took me in sight unseen in 222029_10100448777208788_1162110616_nFloripa, like Maily who housed and fed me for a week when I showed up on her doorstep and said I was a friend of her friends, like Andrew who let me sleep on his floor in Rio for 4 nights, like Colin who wove me into the life of my Bahian host family as soon as I showed up at the airport, like Bocão who made me feel a part of the Rocinha surf school community, like the staff at the gym in Floripa who shared many Ninja tricks with me, like just about everyone in Brazil.

Love, listen to, research, sing along to, and dance to Brazilian music.  It is the best in the world and will always conjure memories of the places from which it came.

Surf like a girl!  Thanks to all the girl shredders of Brazil, and especially Floripa, who brought me along with them and inspired me.

Act a little bit more like my friends in Pe de Serra, where life was less cluttered and more humane, where there was no internet, and where everyone knew everyone else, and focused their energy on caring for each other.    Where my 13 and 14 year old surf buddies Icaro and Nininho always gave their motherly next door neighbor a kiss on the cheek when they came home from school, helped her clean her yard, did their homework, kindly waited for their new friend the gringa (that’s me!) to go surf, and wooped for every wave that any of us caught.

Try thinking of money a little more like Ronaldo, who rented me the most beautiful house I had ever seen on the coast of Itacare and had the most non-capitalist outlook of any person I’d ever met.  He could have rented that house for five times the price, but he wasn’t interested in raking in dough.  He stopped by to check on me and bring me fruit, lived pretty much day to day on the rent I paid him, had no cell phone, went swimming every morning in the ocean, and was one of the happiest people I’d ever met.

Don’t put music on a special stage, keep it part of daily life.   Don’t be worried if you are good at your photo 4instrument or not, just keep playing it and take it with you whenever you go to the beach.  Have regular jam sessions at the kitchen table.  If you don’t have an instrument, be like the kids in Candeal, Salvador, and start a band with water jugs and oil drums, then practice every day for 4 hours in the middle of the playground.

Be laid back enough to welcome the unexpected, even when you are in the middle of something you prepared very carefully.   In Salvador, I went to a concert of Carlinhos Brown, who is pretty much like the Stevie Wonder of Brazil – a musical genius whose songs are beloved by just about everyone.  During his concert, he welcomed all sorts of unexpected events – a woman in the audience who wanted to sing her own song onstage with his band, a 5 year old child whose parents lifted him onto the stage, the impromptu confessionals of love from his fans in the front row.  For each of these, he quieted the band and rolled with the flow.  It was amazing.

Free your skin (when the weather’s warm!).  In Brazil I got the best tan of my adult life.  I feel like my tan is a metaphor – a way of living in my body, of being outdoors everyday, of being close to nature in my daily experience of the sun, the waves, the sand– of the freedom and lightness of wearing little clothing and of living in communities with little formalities and where all bodies were welcome.  It’s hard to keep up in the land of 4 seasons, but relish it when you can.

When you meet people for the first time, remember their names, and say, “It’s a pleasure to meet you __(fill in name here)_____.”   Now that I am not in Brazil anymore, I miss this way of greeting.


The list could go on, but I’ll cut it off here.  While I continue to miss Brazil, I will edit my videos from Rio and Bahia.  So keep an eye on the blog to catch their release!

In love with the coast of Bahia

Better than television... check out the view of the surf break I had from my hammock!

Better than television… check out the view of the surf break I had from my hammock!

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

Erica, my new surfer grrrl friend from Itacarea, enjoying her home break.

Erica, my new surfer grrrl friend from Itacarea, enjoying her home break.

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

Fernanda shows us how its done

Fernanda shows us how its done

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

Pe de Serra.  I was staying in one of those little houses with the red roofs

Pe de Serra. I was staying in one of those little houses with the red roofs

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.


With beloved members of my adopted family in Pe de Serra

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!!!

Finally some cool surfing pics of me!

If I was a little better at surfing I would have gotten tubed.  I'll probably have to surf another 3 years before I figure out how to make that happen

If I was a little better at surfing I would have gotten tubed. I’ll probably have to surf another 3 years before I figure out how to make that happen

I have been travelling through Brazil for nearly 6 months, surfing A LOT.  But somehow, I have very few good images of me surfing.  Whenever I am lucky enough to have a friend nearby who is kind enough to film me, the waves have been small or badly formed.  I have been spending the last precious moments of my trip on the coast of Bahia, surfing my heart out in this warm tropical water, and I finally got some cool images of me catching some nice waves, from my awesome new friend, Itamar, the surf photographer of Itacare.  Check it out!DSCF7861

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