A Coruja: Dispatch from Brazil – This is My Beach

The Owl (“a coruja” in Portuguese) is at her southern home in Guaecá, which is just about her favorite place on the planet. A Coruja is taking over the Owl for a week or so to give readers a look at something other than New England. Scroll on by if you have no interest.


In a past Owl, I explained what it meant when a Brazilian says “Não é a minha praia” or this is not my beach. Figuratively it means that something is just “not your thing” but the literal meaning is where the Owl goes today, to the beach. Minha praia.

Yes, I know you all (who didn’t escape elsewhere) suffered massive cold over the Christmas weekend. This post is not meant to make you suffer but this is for those of you who enjoyed Brazil’s World Cup loss. You can just “toma” or take this. The last two days have been hot, sunny, and gorgeous. Ha. On the other hand, you will be happy to know that it is raining this morning hence my time available for a blog post.

Current situation from Coruja headquarters. Still not too terrible.

For those of you who are interested in someday visiting a Brazilian beach, do NOT come to this one. It’s mine. Minha praia. Guaecá is one of the more accessible beaches now (it used to be reachable only by dirt road) at 3 1/2 hours down a re-done highway from the international airport. This makes me a bit sad because people who do not understand the Guaecá system here are wrecking it. This is not your party beach, your dog on the beach, your loud music at your rental house. Before I get too cranky, let me tell you what it is:

Grass sidewalks (no Traffic & Sidewalk Committee needed though the condo association is tight)

A community of simple houses reachable by grass “sidewalks”, lit by lamps at night, shaded by leafy palms and mother trees. A beach with sand so soft you will think someone dropped their bag of flour on it (BIG bag). A beach with forest and mountain views that cannot possibly be real and yet are. But I’ve written about all that stuff before on this blog–today I want to talk shop.

Let’s say you’ve flip flopped the 200 meters to the beach with your umbrella and chair. Once seated, one leaves your spot only for important things like someone forgot the beer cooler in the house, someone is playing with a soccer ball and it should be you, paddleball, to greet friends or family, or to take a VERY refreshing swim in the ocean. You may also want to walk the three-kilometer beach with a friend or family member, chatting about whatever or deciding if the passing bikinis are a yay or a nay. If you are light-skinned like me (bless you, Dutch ancestors), you also spend a significant amount of time spraying sunblock all over everything, always always forgetting a spot (hello, shoulder blade today).

The endless parade of beach promenaders (it’s a word) is entertaining but builds a great hunger. Fortunately for you, the endless parade of snacks is a hallmark of Brazilian beaches. Add to the mix the parade of salespeople selling beach cover-ups, hats, sunglasses, lottery cards, rugs (no joke), hammocks and this year, a young man selling simple wood key chains for a charitable organization. We have two. Want one?

Back to snacks. You cannot believe what will come by on the beach. The mini grill with cheese on a stick, roasted in front of you while you slowly pass out from the delicious smell. The saleswoman this year from the state of Sergipe, seemingly unbothered by 90 degree heat while wearing layers of clothing and carrying a grill around.

Queijo coalho

The huge vat of hot water on a cart. Milho verde or green corn. No one eats it on the cob, nope. The salesman fishes out an ear using a husk, and puts it on a mini cutting board, cuts the kernels off efficiently into a small bowl, asks if you want butter and salt, squirts melted butter on it from a squeeze bottle and hands it to you with a small spoon. I cannot tell you how delicious this is. And almost healthy. Butter is a neutral color and therefore doesn’t count for calories.

At this point, you may be thinking–well, I could use some ice cream. First by is the açai guy. I feel there is a poem in there somewhere. Cold açai puree, would you like fresh fruit and granola on top? Well, why not? I’ll take a bowl of that while waiting for Rocha.

Rocha. I could write a novel about Rocha. White and red or red and yellow carts you can see coming down the beach. Now far outnumbered by the Kibon and Rochinha carts, there is no comparison in their ice cream picolés (popsicles). Non-Rocha has preservatives and unpronouncebles. Rocha ingredients: water or milk, fruit puree, sugar. Done. My favorite: goiaba or guava which is often sold out (this causes me my only stress at the beach). Also loved: passionfruit, coconut, toasted coconut, açai, groselha (red currant). The kids sometimes get avocado or green corn popsicles but this is reserved for Brazilians because my gringa mind cannot get around sweet corn and avocado flavored popsicles.

Every year we wait in anticipation to see if Ivã is still walking the beach with his Rocha cart. He has been here 35 years and so has the coruja family. He trusts us and the kids–if we don’t have cash or now credit card or pix (a Brazilian venmo), he keep a notebook of our purchases to settle later. He does not appear to have a bad day, flip flopping up and down the beach.

Ivã, 2022

After a popsicle, we settle down again for a while. And then someone will ask “vai um milho verde?” (anyone want some corn?) and here we go again.

The sunset hour


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