Your first thought upon arrival on Santa Catarina is that you should have just spent your entire trip right here. The waves are pumping. The city is pumping. And Alejo Muniz is the most handsome, well-spoken Latin man you’ve ever met. Traveling with him is like living in a Nike commercial. Stunning women. Healthy living. And lots of product placement.
“I heard you’re actually from Argentina,” you say.
Muniz stares back at you, waiting for the punch line. Argentina is the place Brazilians make fun of – like America’s Canada. Muniz’s unbreakable smile returns. “I moved here when I was very young,” he says. “I am Brazilian.”
He is also well off, with a large apartment, nice car and ridiculous quiver. But you can tell that Muniz doesn’t get much time to enjoy it. He’s on the road a lot. Training. Competing. Living his silent film of sudden surf superstardom. His girlfriend is the most beautiful creature you have ever set eyes on. She pays for dinner at Sushi by Ulisses. Very excellent.
Alejo is quiet. He chooses his words carefully, as if everything is a post-heat quote, ready for print. He drinks water and says it’s too early for the club, but you go anyway. The place is called Lual do Guga. Alejo says there are no women this time of year but you don’t know what he’s talking about. They’re everywhere.
Alejo’s father calls at 8:30. After a brief conversation, Alejo says he needs to go home. The city of Florianopolis is just getting warmed up. It’s pretty clear that Alejo already has everything he needs (short of a world title), but you still have nothing. And so you part ways and delve into the turgid nightlife of what may be the most gorgeous surf town you’ve ever visited.
Somewhere out in the samba swirl, you find and lose love, sprain your thumb and bruise your brain. You dance with loose hips and fancy feet, perhaps you look like a fool but it doesn’t matter anymore. The sun is rising. A goat is wandering the street. You walk awhile. Not wanting to go home. Not knowing what that means.
The beach is there. Suddenly and always. You didn’t realize how close it was. You step onto the squeaky white sand and watch the lights come up. Rolling green hills. A stray dog and a gorgeous woman walking separately, alone. The waves are small and clean. You feel like dancing. — Nathan Myers