A detour to Abaeté

on Nov 1, 2019 in Hand Baggage | No Comments

I was thinking about Itapuã. I never planned to visit a place mentioned in a song, the beauty of the song was enough. The name of the place, Toquinho’s voice, the sound imagined by Vinicius de Moraes were sufficient to idealise some kind of coastal perfection; too perfect to exist on Earth. That said, I still went to Itapuã. On a morning, not an afternoon, like in the song. There was a boy cracking open coconuts with a machete. Four reais each. It was early, a warm winter, the sands almost deserted, seagulls soaring above the place where I imagined mythical figures: Vinicius, Dorival Caymmi, João Gilberto, Toquinho, Jorge Amado. All of them were going to Itapuã and there I was, watching the waves at low tide without my dream coming true, because I never dreamed of going to Itapuã. It was so unlikely that Itapuã had an exact geography, 25 kilometres north of Salvador centre, in Bahia, a lighthouse, inhabitants, a statue of Vinicius — I found it sad — in the square opposite the house where he lived.

I went to Itapuã. However, seeing Itapuã did not kill the place with the same name that is in my head. It remained, even with me there. The real and imagined Itapuã came together with a new Itapuã, the one of a “day to wander” and the one of that morning with the boy carrying chairs to the beach hut that took on a new dimension, as if I was entering a fiction and I knew I was entering a fiction. Without deceits, excluding those of the imagination, which does not deceive, but rather provides unlimited alternatives. I, with these random thoughts, and the taxi driver suggesting a stop on my return. “You can’t come here without seeing this”. After a small detour via a steep slope, there was the thing I never thought I would see. A lagoon of dark water surrounded by white sand, like in Dorival Caymmi’s song. The dark green of the bush, in the distance, contrasting with the pale dunes, and the filter of the low- -lying clouds defining the landscape’s every line; men fishing on one of the edges, a loose horse arriving at the beach. For me, the creature could have easily sprouted wings, because if there’s a place for winged horses, it is here. Lagoa do Abaeté. It exists and tragic stories are told about it. “If you swim in it, the sand can swallow you up”, the taxi driver told me. I don’t know if he was scared or trying to scare me, while telling tragic tales about people who disappeared forever in that enchanted and haunted place that the name mythologises: abaeté means horror in the Tupi language. A dune-like horror, so seductive it deceives. Apparently, it seems idyllic. The horse gallops among the dunes, it does not sprout wings, it neighs behind its mother, on the other side of the bay. In Abaeté, the waters can swallow people whole, but everything is normal on the surface, as if normality were perfect.


por Isabel Lucas


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