Pedro Ávila

Saturday started off as hectic as one would have expected when coordinating a trip between three families, only one of which is not loaded with the burden… err, blessing, I should say — of children under 6. It’s a goddamn miracle we arrived at the lovely little beach town of Cambury before 1 pm. A goddamn miracle.

Speaking of which, the boys and I were quite the fools back in the day when we traveled to Guarujá and payed a hundred Reais to squeeze into the maid’s room at the hotel for a weekend. Had we continued another hour north we would have found it well worth our troubles and adventures to be lost in the thickest of jungles of the Mata Atlantica bordering the nicest beach town yet.

Such is the folly of youth, I suppose.

Often times it happens that the universe is not cooperative and decides to turn things against one’s every whim. Sometimes though – sometimes the universe gets creative and events conspire to turn your way. I feel, friends, that this weekend was one such time.

I had every intention of spending the weekend surfing as much as possible on my birthday budget, though renting boards in Brazil is getting more and more expensive every time I’m here. I never really considered just chilling on the beach…I never really understood why people do that when there’s so much more to do.

But the universe conspired, remember, and all was set on track.

On arrival at our pretty little pousada, I went around back to explore the joint and its surrounding foliage, which is ample and thick, just the way I like it. I can only imagine what people must think seeing a white dude with long hair, an obviously-foreign look about him and poking around a maintenance area that has barely any room between it and the jungle. Suspicions of mischief must overload their minds.

Whatever their fears, they stayed away, and I am thankful for that. With few exceptions, in a place like this I’m pretty much anti-people.

While exploring I found an old dude with white hair and very short shorts waxing a surfboard with a grin on his face that could fit a kitten.

Alex,” he introduced himself, reaching over his wooden board to shake my hand. I took it.

Alex worked as a real-estate agent in Campinas and also ran a welding supply company. I think that’s what it was. I might have lost some of that in the translation.

Are you in the pousada for long,” he asked me.

Nah, just the weekend. Hope to get some surfing done.”

“Good,” he said. “This is the place to do it. Rodrigo runs a very nice pousada here – plenty of space to move around and everyone leaves you alone. My wife and I don’t go anywhere else in this state.

Wonderful,” I said. “That’s exactly what I’ll need this weekend.”

I asked him what the going rate was for board-rental in the area. It varies so much, I’d found, on other beaches, and the tooth picker and dick dragging locals usually don’t know shit about that kind of thing.

Why the hell would you rent a board?” He asked. “I’ve got 5 in that closet behind you.”

I looked at him in mild disbelief, waiting for him to tell me how much he was going to charge me for his boards. But it never came.

I won’t lend you this one because I just got it and want to try it out. It’s a big board too, shaped by a guy in San Luis Obispo in California. Great surf out there!”

I know,” I said, hiding my smile, “I’ve heard.” That was no time to show off.

So he gave me his long board and I headed for the sand, to beach where the waves were plentiful, fast, well-formed and over sandbars, not rocks or a reef. Sand is better than stones or coral in a situation like this where you’re surfing in a Speedo.

Later that evening, surfed out and tanked on a clear liquor that Alex had served up for me, I joined him and his wife, Amparo, in a conversation with the funny little man who owns the pousada, Rodrigo.

Amparo was a short, black-haired woman with the body of a 25 year-old but the sullenness of a woman 15 years her senior. She was the quiet type and we didn’t hear much from her throughout the night, but her exotic beauty complimented her stern appearance and she wore her age well.

Rodrigo, we quickly discovered, an Anarchist. How about that? I don’t think I’ve ever met one before. Alex mentioned that he becomes more anarchistic the more drunk he is but at this point he was pretty far gone and  he really wanted government out.

What Brazil is needs,” he stumbled, “isn’t fairness or fewer taxes or health care. We need to do what the Americans are doing! Terrorism!

I leaned back on the couch. Alex rolled his eyes. Amparo said nothing.

Look at how much unity it’s inspired in them. We need more terrorism in this country.

So why don’t you do something about it, you freak?” Alex said pointedly, clearly probing his friend’s inebriation.

I don’t think you realize what it takes to have good terrorists bother you,” I told him, very casually. “You have to work at it. You think it was easy pissing off enough people in the right way?”

Alex and Rodrigo looked at me with confusion on their faces.

You boys need more insight into the stealing that goes on the government. There’s too much hiding behind legislation and phony back offices in the Brazilian Government. If you’re going to have an anarchistic revolt full of terror and senseless violence, you have to get people there. You have to steal out in the open, lie to the people directly, in the press conferences, to their faces, and look comfortable doing it full of disdain for the law and with a middle finger out of the public. The only other way to do it is to invade enough middle eastern countries, but you don’t have the organization for that.

They seemed satisfied with this advice and mulled over it for the rest of the night but I got bored of festering unrest. It started to get disgusting when another idiot joined their conversation and really jammed a log under their fire. He spoke of military occupation and oppression of free thought as if it were the only solution, a polar opposite to our inn-keeper, Rodrigo.

Sometimes,” he said, “the only solution is to wipe out the trouble makers. Get rid of that scum.” Everyone looked aghast. I don’t think any of them had ever met so much as a neocon, let alone a tyrannical lunatic.

Their arguments ensued, mostly civilized, and mostly because Rodrigo passed out on the table a few minutes into it. I took the opportunity to sneak off elsewhere, to a place where the anarchists aren’t yet looming, but neither are the neocons, the armies of Jesus, or the Nazis. Fuck, man, I don’t need that on a weekend.

Pedro Ávila Pedro Ávila

For a reasonably sane & productive member of society (arguable, but let’s not complicate things), I’m far too mobile and unrooted. I travel quite a bit for a job that is simultaneously my greatest privilege and my worst burden.

So I write. And I write. Travel pieces, political journalism (a stretch from ranting but, still), short stories, poetry and other such riff-raff. I contribute to a handful of publications and will probably just keep going until something gives out, or someone gives in.


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Of smiles and roars