(We’re in Florianopolis, a city on an island that’s barely not touching the mainland of Brasil. We’re staying with a girl named Vivian who we met through globalfreeloaders.com.)
Vivian took us to this gorgeous beach on the south end of the island today and to get there we had to wade across this river that was a deep red, almost brown, like it was stained by tea leaves. It was knee-deep at the most and you couldn’t see your feet on the bottom when you were wading, I could only vaguely make out whether my next step would be on sand or into deeper water so I followed a sand bar in the middle of the river, followed it all the way to the mouth, all the way to where the waves from the sea were breaking and I could feel cold water pushing in. There I finally waded across and saw this corner of water where the red from the river was swirling with the green of the ocean and the yellow sand and it looked like someone’s interpretation of a drug dream, like kaleidescope water circling.
After that we went and sat down at a restaurant under a huge shady tree on the beach and Vivian ordered for us the “Sequencia” – an onslaught of seafood that included crab cake-type things cooked inside a crab shell, fried; shrimp fried; fried fish; chili shrimp (that you eat with the shell on, a first for me), a fish stew, a salad, french fries, rice, beans and other stuff I’m sure I’m forgetting. Azure and I body surfed after all that, then we napped on the beach, then I body surfed again. I love the sea, I don’t know why it takes me so long to remember that.
Vivian made vague threats about dancing for tonight and I wasn’t looking forward to it because most of my dance experiences are like this: (loud, bad music in the back ground) Azure says something to me. “WHAT?” Azure repeats herself and I still can’t hear her. “WHAT?” Then I get dehydrated and go home. And the music is awful the whole time.
Tonight she took us to a Samba club and I feel like, once again, the universe has been holding out on me. The club was actually a wooden house hidden behind these huge sand dunes with a hot little room packed full of people, young and old, dancing and sweating in rhythm with the most beautiful pulses of drums, they were dancing and chanting along as a group and it felt ecstatic. I felt ecstatic. The drummers were fantastic, so talented, they’d speed up in the middle of a song, out of nowhere, and even though I don’t think I’ve danced samba before in my life, I was buoyed by the music, by closing my eyes and trying to feel the drums like I imagine good dancers probably do. Azure and I worked the entire time on dancing with each other – not just together – and I think we were getting better by the end of the night. There were some great dancers there. The band was sitting at a table on the dancefloor so it felt democratic and anonymous but at the same time like we were watching this special group of artists who were sharing their talent. The room was hot even with the fans going and when we looked outside we could see the dunes silhouettes towering and a hard rain coming down all night, keeping rhythm outside. The four of us moved over to the corner and between songs we’d stick our hands out the window to feel the rain and wind, all of us completely aware, I think, that this was a defining travel moment. The rhythms were just amazing. You know how I was so impressed with the tango band that had no drums? Well, Samba is like the yang to that – a music that’s all drums, like it’s the skeleton that was extracted from music, leaving Tango as the flesh. I just can’t believe I’ve gone so long in life without knowing about these things.