We found the beach—the beach without any cocktail carts, the beach so far into the island that we passed ranches, horses and cows on the way instead of restaurants, the beach so remote that parking was free.
To find it, we briefly followed a pineapple truck all the way to the southern tip of Ilha de Santa Catarina, past Praia da Armação and Praia do Matadeiro.
The three of us stood at the top of the long and steep wooden staircase to the beach.
“Can we go, now?”
Clearly, Praia do Pântano do Sul was a surf spot with perfect waves. I promised Mark we would give it a shot, but first I wanted to walk to both ends of the beach.
On the west end, I found a surf hostel with dozens of board drying under the sun, then a hill I climbed to get to Praia da Solidão, a small beach I explored with two Argentinian girls whose master plan was to sell bikinis and hopefully make enough money to stay in their newly found paradise.
On the east end, I found a fishing village with a main street, a few seafood restaurants, and lovely houses built on a steep cliff. I also got thirsty. Dilemma—I was only wearing my swimsuit, the Brazilian kind to boot. I stood at the entrance of the minimercado. “Can I… ahem, just grab a drink very quick?” The cashier looked at me, surprised. “Of course!” And this is how I ended up buying chips, sweet bread and Coke wearing a thong swimsuit, something that’s unlikely to happen anywhere but in Brazil.
“Okay, Mark… let’s catch a wave. Or try, at least. It’s high tide and it looks rough…”
Definitely a surf spot. The waves were perfect and it was very windy. I had to hold him Mark tight.
“How about this one? Come on, lie on the board, perfect! Kick, kick, kick… Oh yeah!”
I watched Mark riding the wave all the way to the shore and Feng somehow captured the moment.
Okay, he missed school this week… but I’m ridiculously proud of him for catching his first real wave.