A Fishing Village We Fell In Love With

Trip Start Sep 09, 2006
Trip End Aug 18, 2010

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Flag of Brazil  ,
Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Throughout our travels we often imagine a novel or foreign film that may one day unfold itself on paper or the screen.  Its images and storyline would place the characters and settings we´ve come to know into the minds of those who would have had the chance to see or read our so-called creation.  In all likelihood that´s probably a pipe dream, but every now and then there seems to be a special place we encounter on the road, that somehow feels as if it had been ripped out of a chapter or scene in a foreign film or book.  And inevitably we find ourselves including certain characteristic individuals we come across into the potential plot.

In Pontal De Coruripe we spent 6 nights uncovering a handful of delightful, personable, and unique "characters" while taking in some beach time and roaming the streets and sand of this beautiful fishing village.  The setting, a tiny, remote village on the Brazilian coast surrounded with magnificent coconut palms and mangrove forests.  Its focal point, a picturesque fishing harbor situated on a calm bay.  During the day locals indulge in play at the nearby tidal pool formed by an offshore reef, while fisherman set sail to exploit the nearby waters and return at night with the daily catch of shrimp, prawns, and other delectable fruits of the ocean.

But what´s a story without its central character?  Ada Vigano and her eden-like Pousada Ada guest house found their way into our script, and her place will forever be thought of as one of the most pleasant guest houses we´ve ever stayed.  Ada, an Italian who lived most of her life in Germany, arrived in Pontal many many years ago as a traveler herself, and the second she came, knew it was here where she would spend the rest of her life.  
Ada's charm would be in her charisma, "cut and dry" wit, animated behaviour, and rough demeanor.  And it was her strength of character, optimistic, yet cynical outlook on life, and interesting stories about the village and its people which entertained and fascinated us throughout our days at the Pousada.

The pousada, located 200 meters from the beach had 12 rooms looking onto a lush garden full of palms and many other tropical plants.  In the back of the garden, a veranda existed where Ada would conduct Portuguese lessons in her rampant and animated style. Reeshma undertook a few of these, and without question definitely advanced her knowledge of the national language. Interestingly enough, we asked Ada what language she preferred to read in, considering she was fluent in about 5.  Her answer, "English is a beautiful language, and I always choose books in English.  But I still and shall always dream in Italian, my mother tongue."

A covered patio where meals were served acted as the social melting pot for the entire property.  We were delighted by the multitude of options available for breakfast: fried bananas, eggs, fresh fruit, home made whole wheat breads and jams, crepes, porridge, and large pots of Ceylon Tea (tea! not a trace of it in Brazil, so a pleasant treat for sure).  And dinner was even better.  Every night we were treated to a fine spread of traditional Brazilian fare.  To start it all off, Ada would have her staff prepare an infusion of "cachaca" (sugarcane spirit straight up) and a tropical fruit such as tamarind or pineapple. By the time the dinner bell had rung, her guests, usually 6 to 10 strong, would be mingling in the lounge and making their way to the dinner table, with a slight buzz of course.  Most of the time a seafood concoction was the main course, accompanied by large portions of tasty vegetables, soup, and other fresh creations.  To top off the meal, her chef would bring out a huge pot of iced mousse blended with a fruit of the day....yummmmm! 

But it wasn't the gourmet meals that made there way to that special place in our memories.  The most fascinating aspect of Ada's establishment was the melding of cultures, mixing of languages, and sharing of international humour that occurred every morning and every night at her dinner table, thanks to the multinational mix that her guests brought to the Pousada.  The combination of Brazilian, European, and North American culture gave a simple and pleasant charm to the small guest house and definitely made our experience an even more unique one.  Languages would fly over the table and bang into each other resulting in laughter and confusion.  


And for the supporting cast of the picture, here's an introduction to our good friends we encountered throughout our days at the Pousada and in the village:

-  Our dear friend Gustavo; hands down, the friendliest German we have ever met.  Gustavo, a close friend of Ada's from her time in Germany, has been coming there for the past 15 years, sometimes twice a year.  A German who can't really stand Germans, Gustavo befriended us right away and ended up "liking the 2 of us people very much".  He always found a way to sit beside us, and translate the conversation at the table for us every night as he, along with Ada were the only people who could speak German, Italian, Portuguese, and English.  A large man with a heart of gold and a gift of gab, Gustavo always spoke with an enunciated tone and demanded clarity from his speech patterns, which sometimes shifted from German to English to Portuguese due to his multilingual capabilities.  His smile was contagious and his warm personality always made us feel welcomed in the village he called a home away from home

-  "Guarda Vida", the village life guard who would always blink uncontrollably due to a his allergy to sand!  We still don't know his name or if his inability to understand English is a complete farce, but this guy steals the prize for the coolest and strangest civil servant on the Atlantic coastline.  By day he patrolled the beach in search of tourists swimming too close to the offshore reef.  By night, the dude would let down his rasta hair and reggae the night away with us at the local discotheque.  We couldn´t even recognize him as the same guy!  Always making fun of our Portuguese, he'd say in sarcastic broken English "Oh, you speak Portuguese very good". 

Binyo, the military cadet:  A young man who found us wandering the beach one day and latched on to us for the rest of the afternoon.  It was his last day in Pontal for the next 2 years as he was enlisting in the military police force, and was departing the next morning for basic training in the nearby capital.  He was proud to spend his final day of freedom with two IndoCanadian tourists and guided us to the neighboring coastal community to visit his close friend's seaside shack for some beer and french fries. 

- Mookie, the Pousada Dog:  His uncontrollable desire to swim in the deep ocean resulted in him following us (or whomever was going, for that matter), to the beach every single day.  An emotional and loyal pooch, Mookie's only wish was to be able to swim with the locals without them judging him.  He hated that the people would look at him in that concerned way and think that he couldn't handle the ocean waves for more than 10 minutes.  Yes, in the end we all felt that Mookie should team up with Guarda Vida and save lives together.  The dog could swim damn it.  Swim Mookie, swim!

-  And finally, Jorge, a local, the husband of Ada's cook, and her close personal friend for many years.  The man, confined to a wheelchair due to a congenital deformity from childhood, performed a small concert for us with his guitar one night in the Pousada.  His Brazilian rendition of Bob Marley's "No Woman No Cry" inspired Ashif so much that he asked if Jorge could perhaps show him a thing or two and pass on some advice for a beginner guitar player.  The guitar had been purchased just a week prior in Salvador and Jorge agreed to give him some lessons for the next few days.  So, for the next four days, Jorge visited Ashif at the Pousada every morning and the two formed a musical relationship that will last forever.  The lessons would take place in the small veranda at the back of the garden, and melodious rhythms would resonate through the compound for hours and hours - Jorge's voice supplementing the strumming for both teacher and student.  Jorge enjoyed the sessions so much that he convinced us to stay a few days more, in order to pass on more knowledge to his fast-learning apprentice.  We obliged without too much fuss.

A humble and dignified man, he learned guitar from his "amigo" many years ago.  However, guitar led to boozing, and eventually alcoholism began to ruin his life.  Jorge conveyed to us how his wife had left him many years ago and ran to Manaus with his only child.  She didn't want the son to see him anymore and so the relationship ended abruptly.  He eventually battled through his tribulations and years later, Jorge met Leolo (Ada's chef) and her daughter, Raissa, and the 3 live happily together. 

It was a sad day when we decided to depart Pousada Ada and head north.   On our way out, Jorge wheeled up to us on the road and bid a fond farewell.  In the end it was decided that Ashif would return to Pontal one day, many years from now, and the two would perform a live concert in the village...teacher and student together. 

And what's a fitting conclusion to the storyline of Pontal and Pousada Ada?  We couldn't think of one, so all we can hope for is that "They all lived happily ever after...The End."  

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