I recently left behind my Alaska life for a couple months and found myself in the most magical of places: Garopaba, Brazil. If my sister hadn’t bought a place here a few years ago, I’d probably have lived my whole life never knowing this gem even existed.
The town is on the southern coast of Brazil, just an hour from Florianopolis — a city situated both on an island and on the shores of a stunning lake.
Garopaba, however, is located on the Brazilian mainland and somehow also surrounded by beaches. So it almost felt like we were on an island while I was there. I asked Brooke a couple times how many beaches there were in Garopaba (we set a goal to visit all of them while I was there), but I never really got a straight answer. I do know we went to Central, Ferrugem, Siriu, Silveira, Garopabina … and maybe another one or two that I’m forgetting now. There’s a close connection to water here that reminds me of Coloradoans close connection to the mountains. It is simply part of us, part of our every day lives.
One day when I was in Garopaba, Brooke and I stopped at a fish shop and bought a few fillets of fish and invited her next door neighbors over for dinner. Karen and Murillo are from Brazil, but their hometowns are further up the coast. They are both athletic and kind and their home is full of boats. There are miniature kayaks and canoes everywhere.
Karen told us when her mother came for a visit recently, she gathered all the boats in the house, set them on a table, and told Karen: “They should be together, they are a collection.” But to Karen and Murillo, I think the boats are just part of their lives, symbolic of their love of surfing, kayaking, and canoeing as much as they possibly can.
Over fish dinner, Karen told us that Murillo, who loved to meet new people, had recently befriended a local fisherman who had invited him to help out on his boat. Murillo would have to wake early, she said, but he was really looking forward to the opportunity to get out on the water — and experience a different kind of boat. Karen told us this story in English and her English was excellent (which was a good thing since my Portuguese was — and still is — very much a work-in-progress).
Murillo’s English was pretty good too, but he was also looking to improve and he said he liked when people corrected him. Sometimes he’d mix up small things. For example, he referred to Christmas “stockings” as “socks,” and he pronounced the word “looked” with two syllables (look-ed). Sometimes I would honor his request and correct him, but lots of times I just enjoyed hearing words that were so familiar to me, but pronounced or used in a slightly unfamiliar way.
So when we were talking over dinner about Murillo’s upcoming fishing expedition, I asked him the kind of question that anyone might ask someone before they head out on a trip like this:
“What does the fisherman fish for?”
Murillo thought about it for about a half a second.
“For a living,” he said.
His tone was earnest, but Brooke and I both couldn’t help but smile at the unexpected answer. Murillo was clearly confused. “Did I say something wrong?” he asked us.
No, not really, I told him. And I explained how the typical answer for that question would be to describe the kind of fish — trout, salmon, halibut, rockfish, you name it — that you were fishing for. Technically, I said, his answer, “for a living,” made sense, but it was a little unexpected.
“It is much more poetic,” I told him. “And probably more accurate too. Most fishermen I know do it because they love it, so I guess you could say they are fishing for a living.”
p.s. If you’d like to read about what happened last time I visited Brooke in Brazil… check out this post here about our canoe adventure down the Guapore River in the Amazon.