A Day at the Beach – Florianopolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil

A Day at the Beach
Florianopolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil

The View From the Kitchen
The View From the Kitchen
My room here at the beach house in Florianopolis has the look of one of those laundry detergent commercials, with a lacy curtain lazily sighing into the room before getting sucked back in, clinging ever so lightly to the wall. One of the shutters is closed, keeping out a bit of the heat, but the white light punching through the holes in the veil has that magical freshness that only the coast can offer. Sadly, this tasty sight hasn’t greeted me every day, but it’s one of the staples I’ve come to love about life at the beach.

Right now I’m sitting with my laptop at my makeshift workstation, plugged up against the weathered stone wall. The temperature outside yesterday was a beach-perfect 85, but my gringo skin and permavacation lethargy kept me from hopping the 200 yards to one of the most glorious beaches you’ve never seen. Today will be different, though, I tell myself.

So here it is: a day at the beach. House.

11:30 a.m. This morning I awoke to find the rest of the beach-house residents – my aunts and uncle – had already made the short walk to the beach. But they’ve left me some squishy slices of too-ripe mango, which I slurp down piece by slippery piece. It’s gone in 30 seconds.

12:15 p.m. Closing the bathroom door behind me, I see that my bath towel again is not where I left it. This means that the cleaning aunts have gotten to it again, managing to wash and dry it on the line without my knowledge. Whatever their trick, it has unsurpassed softness and a fragrance just like that which you imagine in the Downey commercials, but never quite get with machines and plastic containers. The Kramer in me wants to bottle up this smell and sell it to CK, bottle it up in one of those little medicine jars or whatever’s with the corks and the sand that the girls always used to make on vacation.

My Uncle Pulling Weeds
My Uncle Pulling Weeds
On to the shower. It’s surprisingly warm, which I figure is because of the sun heating the big tank on top of the house, but then I realize it’s the doing of an electrical device attached to the showerhead. After drying off I put my towel back in the same place I left it last, secretly hoping it’ll disappear again before tomorrow’s shower.

12:30 p.m. And the ‘tives are back, swingin’ into full gear with lunch, which will commence about 1 or 1:30. The Beatles are belting out their best next door at the adjoined residence of my uncle’s fam, and I wander over there to see what’s cookin’. My feeble offers for help denied, I wait on the couch.

1:15 p.m. The meal once again delivers, with fish and salt and salad and salt. I help myself to seconds before I realize the table is being cleared, and people are already jockeying for dish duty. Understanding this is best left to those inexperienced in the ways of the kitchen, I find the nearest sponge and hip-check my aunts away from the sink.

1:45 p.m. The afternoon is consumed by lazy activities: novelas and resting and jornal-reading and hammock-lying and sunbathing and all-around indolence. My aunt is taking a nap in her hammock, and the stone floor roasting my feet convinces me I should do the same. My tome of choice today is a piece on social networks – not exactly beach material, but it’ll do.

My Cousins and Their Sig Others
My Cousins and Their Sig Others
5:00 p.m. The sun has nestled its way down between the trees behind the house, and the temperature has knocked itself down a few notches, cool enough to consider goin’ for a run. As I don my trusty sneaks, I see that the yesterday’s run through the dusty red roads has managed to rust up my silver Adidas. Though not as bad as the other “treats” that stuck to the bottom of my shoes last week, the dirt is enough to convince me to switch routes today, take off my shoes, and run on the beach.

8:00 p.m. Back, showered, and working on my projects at the laptop, I’m hailed from my room by my tia Lilian, who has laid out the fixins for dinner – sandwich stuff – which I am happy to consume. The ham is watery, the bologna flat and stiff, and the cheese processed, but it’s not the Ritz. I balance it with a little $3 red wine – gelada – from the refrigerator, and all is back to fine.

12:30 a.m. Evening novelas over, the elder statesmen of the beach house withdraw to their quartos, and the few fuzzy channels on the TV are mine. I turn it on to a little of the Carnaval show up in Rio, about to start.