Between Rio and Sao Paulo lies a protected coastline known as the Costa Verde. There is limited coastal roadway and the main way to visit the spectacular islands and beaches of this area is by boat. A range of mountains covered with tropical greenery rises almost from sea level. Tiny coves and beaches and islands dotted along the shoreline offer countless opportunities to swim and walk. The sea is clear and full of life. A crust of bread dropped overboard attracted hungry and curious fish who then got their treats. I was happy that they were not too attracted to my toes when we swam from the boat. It is something of a leap of faith to jump into the greenish water that is as calm and inviting as any pool. The temperature was perfect , not too cool and yet not that cloying bath tub warm I experienced once in Florida. When we wanted to explore the empty beaches we just swam to shore or paddled in the little dingy attached to the boat. I was very careful to wear a big white hat most of the time and even to swim with a white cotton shirt as I have experienced some pretty bad sunburns in the past. My days of coveting a tan are done. I just want to be comfortable. At one of the beaches we visited there were two little shacks with tables set in the shade of a vine-covered cliff. Two young boys got out of a boat carrying several silvery fish and ….in a few moments, lunch was served! Desert was watermelon just cut from a patch out back. As we ate, a boy of about six climbed up one of the massive rocks on the beach, grabbed a rope attached to a tree branch and swung out over the water. He let go and plunged down into the waves. Under the indulgent eye of his grandmother he told us his name was Kaiki and that next year he would go to school. Later we found the aquatic version of the school bus moored in our night harbor. His grandmother told us she never left home and that she had no desire to go to the city. Who could blame her? She was bone thin, had not a tooth in her head and was clothed in a faded sack of a dress. Yet she was surrounded with beauty, her family, her strange city visitors who came to bring her a little money. She smoked her pipe, tended her garden, saw the waves come and go on her pristine beach.
Later over supper that night we wondered if we could live in this paradise forever. Would we get bored? Was that perhaps the problem with the first paradise? It was enough to have seen and experienced this beauty and to know that it still exists.
Next day I refused to look through the binoculars to see the new nuclear power plant a few miles away.