It is Christmas Eve as I prepare to post a piece on my blog. The day has been dark and damp so for something cheery and handsome my mind goes back to the beaches we knew and visited in Brazil. Those beaches fit into our Christmas memories for as a family we celebrated a few of those Christmases at a beach. Our children enjoyed the sand and the water, then of course Christmas dinner Doris had prepared all spread out so nicely on a blanket over the sand.
No doubt about it. If you like beaches with lots of sand and sun, then you’d love Brazilian beaches. But still you’d never get to visit them all unless that was your fulltime job. You see, Brazil is huge with an immense coastline and the coast is basically beach after beach. If you looked down from a plane you’d see they are scallops of sand, kilometers long broken by rocky hills jutting out into the water. It is those beaches one after another, after another that make Rio de Janeiro so popular to tourists. Mind you, Brazilians love and crowd those beaches as well.
Many of those beaches are lined with hotels that you would find reasonably priced. The same goes for a condo especially if you don’t mind buying one a block or two from the water. A friend who visited Brazil with me was so enthralled with the Guaruja beach and condo prices he even considered taking his holidays there. That may have been just a wonderful fantasy but to imagine it would lend relaxation to one of our wintry days.
Even as missionaries we got to spend time on the sand and shores. When we lived in the interior I needed to travel occasionally to the capital of the state to change money and work with an agent to try to get our car out of customs. This one time we went as a family taking the bus from Sao Paulo down through the mountains to the one of the beaches. That time we had that beach all to ourselves for it was during the cooler part of the year that Brazilians called winter. We rented a cabin on the beach for a few days but did not spend much time in the water—it was a little on the cool side. Doris reminded me that our son Vernon, was then just a baby in arms.
I recall the fishermen on the beach and their work. We never saw how they did it but they had somehow placed a huge net out in the water and were using oxen to pull one end of it into the shore. We did not see their catch, unless it ended up in restaurant nearby where we took our meals. The fish they served there was fabulous. That of course reminds me of the wonderful Brazilian restaurants.
You will find Brazilian cuisine excellent no matter where you go. It makes my mouth water just to think of the sandwich “bife a cavalo” (translation—steak topped with a fried egg) I’d get one in a spot in central Sao Paulo right near the Cathedral da Se. I’d love to say that I’d take you with me to Brazil just to enjoy their cuisine but I’m sadly afraid those days are past. Perhaps I can share stories of their gastronomical delights with you over a cup of coffee some day.
While we lived in Rio our day off was most often spent on the beach just over the mountains from our home. We all enjoyed the beach but our two children never did seem to tire of the water and sand. One time when friends from Sao Paulo were visiting, we went to the famous Copacabana beach. As I think back I am not sure why we went to there unless it was the hotel we liked not far from the water. When I mention that hotel, food comes to mind for a continental breakfast went along with the room…and what a breakfast! As for the ocean, the waves were high that day so if a person was agile enough he could body surf on an incoming wave. Lots of fun and laughter but I recall one wave almost being the death of me. At least I thought so. Instead of being able to surf the wave, it drove me head first down into the sand. I wonder if the intent was on breaking my neck. Perhaps there is an advantage to being hard-headed.
When I think of the beaches, the oceans and the forests in Brazil my mind goes back to the Creator who nearly fourteen billion years ago at the big bang had an idea that included all of nature that we ever encountered and enjoyed in Brazil. I continue to be amazed at what I see of nature around us and I give thanks to the wonderful foresight of the Eternal One. His big plan I am sure includes more than the beaches I remember—I believe it includes the offering of the hope of Eternal life. Wow! That will surpass the beauty of anything we ever experienced in this world.