Even at this early hour, the Brazilian sun shone and sparkled against the ocean’s waters. Distantly below waves crashed violently against large boulders, sending gleaming rainbows into the air. As Charles, my host dad, prepared the fishing lines, I explored the area a little. Sea urchins and barnacles created a thin blanket over the boulders. I spotted scuba divers in the water harvesting oysters and muscles stuck in the crevices. With the prepared polls in hand, baited with shrimp, Charles took me to the lower edges of the rocks. We scrambled against the rugged edges and fought against the waves to arrive at a stunning view.
Emptiness. It seemed like just the two of us and the whole world. It was a calm morning. We spent hours wrapped up in our own thoughts, casting and recasting. At the end of the day all we had to show were a few small fish called “garopas,” too small for eating, and one other fish, which we ate at lunch. Despite the small results, it was a morning spent in absolute splendor and peace.
To understand how different Christmas in Brazil is, picture this: On Christmas morn, when I walked down the stairs, I wasn’t wearing pajamas or looking for my cup of raspberry royal tea as my family prepared to open presents, I was wearing a bikini looking for my sunglasses so my family and I could go to the beach. That day we rotated our time between the beach and the kitchen. Christmas Day was spent in cooking splendor.
The preparations for the oncoming lunch filled the kitchen with the perfumes of grilling shrimp and fish, roasted turkey, chicken and beef, alongside onions, steaming rice and potatoes. Sweet scents filled the room as chocolaty syrups poured over a lime and vanilla cake. I, myself, added the smells of the chocolate chip cookies. In other words, for lunch we all ate like kings without a care in the world.