Alena Ricci is a student at the University of Pittsburgh and an ISA Photo Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Florianópolis, Brazil.
Mermaids by definition are inhabitants and protectors of their very dear oceans and seas. Coming from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, beaches and their protection is not a popular theme of conversation for me. However, after seeing some of the 42 beaches that make up the island of Florianópolis, Brazil, it certainly is now.
We recently had our first excursion around the island of Florianópolis, visiting five different beaches, which included a traditional beach, a lagoon, and a lake beach, having the opportunity of experiencing all the different types of natural waters found in Brazil.
For me, beaches have always been vacation spots or places to get really good jumping pictures with my friends. For Brazilians however, beaches are a way of life. Beaches are part of everyday life here and because of this, they take beach care very seriously. The water is tested frequently for harmful bacteria and the beaches are remarkably clean (in comparison to my limited experiences at Lake Erie and Florida). These beaches literally mean the world to these people as they learn to surf, swim and spend a lot of time on them with families and friends.
Mermaids are a popular theme in pop culture. We as North Americans place importance in the “mermaid” way of life: swimming, covered in sand, looking effortlessly gorgeous for the summer, etc. (Just check out Buzzfeed for all related mermaid lifestyle articles). However, what we forget is that part of being a “mermaid” is protecting what we’re swimming in. It means caring for the marine world around us, because it matters just as much as the world that we’ve created, on land. This is something that the Brazilians have mastered.
Mermaids are also a popular theme here in street art, as for Brazilians the mermaid represents the beautiful protector of their waters.
She represents someone who can be so very powerful both underwater and on land. She is someone who represents what Brazil is: a country passionate about their land and their beaches. Being here in Brazil, it’s important to be like a mermaid, and care about the beaches and the waters. It means taking the idea of a clean beach seriously. It means getting to be Ariel for a summer (minus the red hair and seashell bra)!
The world awaits…discover it.