We know what to expect from Praia do Moçambique—a 14-km-long mostly empty beach with plenty of birds… and traffic jams. Driving around Ilha de Santa Catarina can be tricky, especially around Barra da Lagoa, a small fishing village right in the middle of the island that can’t handle hundreds of people going north and south.
It’s okay, we brought music. Feng made a long playlist.
“You know, I listen to Savage Garden and Ricky Martin exactly once a year—in the rented car, driving around Ilha de Santa Catarina. To the Moon and Back… reminds me of this nightclub in Beijing in 1999.”
Which is probably why Feng downloaded the song in the first place. Let’s face it, we’re not that into Ricky Martin and Savage Garden.
Ah, Smells Like Teen Spirit. That’s better. I’m fifteen, waking up at 7:30 a.m. to go to school. The first thing I do is to press “Play” on my tape player—Nirvana, always Nirvana, I listened to Nirvana for years.
“I don’t even know what he is singing about!”
That’s rich coming from Mark who has just sung along Californication.
“Don’t worry, nor does he. Welcome to music from the 1990s.”
I’m 16 and I’m in Nantes, pretty convinced I need to get the hell out of there but I don’t have a clue where to start. I have to graduate from high school, for sure. But then what? Why would I stay where I was born? I have to move out, anyway. My brother and sister are growing up, it’s a small place for a family of five. How can I find enough money for a plane ticket? I want to go back to China, I want to go to Australia, I want to explore the world.
“Hey have some respect for Cobain, we were all very sad when he blew his… You know what? Never mind. Ah, Nevermind… great album.”
“I want the rock star song again.”
“Nickelback, Mark, seriously?”
“Yeah, Mark. The song is supposed to be ironic.”
“Whatever… I know, I know, daddy, you told me. I’m gonna trade this life, for fortune and fame, I’d even cut my hair, and change my name…”
“Gee, you would have loved 2005. This song was on radio all the time. I mean, looking back, the lyrics aren’t bad, but we all ODed on Nickelback.”
“Oh, Queen! Tonight, I’m gonna have myself a real good time, I feel alive and the world I’ll turn it inside out, yeah, and floating around in ecstasy…”
I’m not sure whether I’m proud or worried that Mark knows all the lyrics to several Queen songs. We’re not even big Queen fans but I kept on singing the main hits after watching Bohemian Rhapsody and Mark loves the music. At one point I had to tell him he would never see Freddy Mercury performing live…
“How far is the beach?”
“Really close but there are plenty of cars standing between us and the beach.”
“Juliette, if you want to get off and walk…”
“Sounds good. Will you pick me up after the bridge?”
I hate being stuck in traffic. I walk down the street, stop by the gas station, buy a coffee, drink it, walk across the bridge… and here’s Feng coming. Good timing.
Now Mark is singing Manu Chao. “Je ne t’aime plus, mon amour, je ne t’aime plus, tous les jours.”
Are we there yet?