My Heart Yearns for Jangada - by Porter

We had a few days in the capital of Ceará, which goes by the quite muscular name of Fortaleza (strength or force) between Christmas and our stupidly early 1:30am flight to the Brazilian south, so we decided to check out the much-hyped beach town of Canoa Quebrada (broken canoe). According to the saccharine tour guide during the van ride there, a bunch of blaised French moviemakers discovered and brought to light the once sleepy fishing village and today possesses a robustly tourist main street with the improbably name of Broadway.

We arrived at the beach and were neither over nor underwhelmed; the requisite beachside restaurants, lots of butt-crack swallowing bikinis, a very steady breeze, and on the water, on the beach, and in various sizes, conditions, and colors, Jangadas. Jangadas are a kind of sailboat unique to the northeast, curiously limited to a fairly specific stretch of coastline, with the largest concentration in and around Fortaleza. They are pretty ingenious; constructed without any nails, they have been used for hundreds of years, mostly for fishing. I asked at one point if today they are mostly used for tourism, and was pleased to hear that while many are indeed tourist-pleasure barges, a lot are still used for fishing (definitely saw this in action and watched some fishermen weigh their catch) and many folks own them just for fun.
Jangada under construction

We walked down the beach and plopped down to enjoy the sun. No sooner had my bum grazed the sand, that I saw a Brazilian youth cavorting in the waves, running after a MODEL JANGADA!
A jangada inspection
 I followed him for a time and observed the operation; most ingenious. I went to talk to him, and learned the following things:

1.) his boat is not for sale
2.) it took him 2 months to build
3.) there used to be some mini jangada or jangadinhas in Canoa Quebrada, but they are too much work to build and don't sell for enough to make it worthwhile
4.) there might be some still in Majorlandia, 4km down the beach

Another dude walked up and said that there might be one for sale, and said he would be back in 25 minutes with more information. He came back and whistled at me, so I walked up the dune and then we just walked over to his house, right on the beach. No such luck, he said, nobody had any to sale. I gathered that there are no stores that sell them, just dudes who make them for fun. He said that if I came back at 7 that evening, we could drive over to his friend's house (Little Hick the Fisherman). That wouldn't work, as we were leaving at 4 on our van with the incredibly peppy Patricia the Professional Tour Guide.

So. We resolved to get to Majorlandia on our own. After arriving at the bus stop, a car pulled up and offered us and the other two guys waiting a ride as far as Quixaba, another town. We weren't going to take the offer, but since the other two guys did, we embarked. I asked the guys in the car if such a thing as the location of mini jangadas would be within the limits of their ken. All enthusiastically replied that yes, they could be found in Quixaba and what's more, young Felipe would be happy to take us to the appropriate house.
Do YOU have any jangadas for sale?
30 minutes and 4 houses later, I'm sure Felipe was rueing his decision to act as an impromptu jangada tour guide, sans Patricia's effervescence. We viewed a few different jangadinhas, but none of them were the TRUE jangadinha that was now tacking it's way through the fancies of my imagination.
Not quite right...
So, bidding a fond farewell to Felipe, we headed down the beach with a vigorous march, knowing that time was limited for our quest; our pumpkin tour van was to leave in less than 2 hours.

Arriving there, this time without a callow youth to guide us in our quest, I boldly entered a noisy and smelly fishmonger area and inquired as to where I might buy a mini jangada. A man who overheard then asked if I wanted to buy his jangada, for fishing. I repeatedly stated that I wanted a small one, "about this big". A younger fellow sprung forth from the crates of fish and posited that George's house is where I wanted to go. How I was to get there was not so obvious. Having gained this nugget, nothing else was happening, so I left and went to ask around some more.

Soon thereafter, the same fishy youth flagged us down and told us he could take us there, that it was 'just right over there', which in Brazil, I have learned, can mean anything from 20 metres to several leagues. Up, left, left, right, down, A, B, B, A, our route seemed to resemble cheat codes from the Nintendo games of my youth. The fish boy kept telling me "Boy, you are just going to go CRAZY when you see these babes, they are super beautiful! You're really going to buy one, right? You're going to LOVE them!!"

We did arrive, finally. The youth went ahead to parlay on our behalf with the family of Sr. George, who proved to be about 17, and the oldest son of several children. They produced several jangadinhas of varying sizes, and with each one, my heart quickened its pace.
Not all of George's jangadas
How I longed that I could take them all home! All were resplendent, and fully functioning models! The family competed in mini jangada regattas, which were all made by George. The family seemed pretty wary but also quite interested in watching us, these two random americanos, who had come all the way to their home to buy some jangadas! Oh, what curious news we shall have to count to everyone tonight, whoo boy, they must have been thinking.
Getting it all put together
Ever seen Sophie's Choice? Perhaps a devout fan of the X-Files and Mulder's parent's decision? Choosing is such a hard thing. Kami is getting nervous about the time, and I just cannot decide. They are all so lovely! Finally, I elect to choose one in particular, on the merits of its slightly smaller size and the fact that its construction was as a replica; that is, the hull and all of its part were made exactly like a full-size jangada (the other hulls were just made out of a single piece of wood, carved to shape), which I found charming.
Oh, happy day! The only bummer is that I won't have a chance to actually use it on the beach in Brazil, but oh well. I absolutely love things like this; going to some random home to buy something that real significance, both for the seller and the purchaser. It is so perfect! It is JUST like a full size one. Something about that really delights me, and while I am guessing that most if not all of you who are reading this (bravo, for reading this far) will not understand the joy that something like a model boat can bring, I know that you understand what it means to be excited and happy. It will mean far more to me than any other purchase that I could have made, and will soon grace our home and the waters of Western Washington.


Anonymous said...

Way to persevere!

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