In 2017 I moved from Brazil to Ericeira, a fishing village on the central coast of Portugal popular among surfers. The coast is mostly wild, with a mosaic of agricultural fields suddenly ending in cliffs overlooking a rocky shore that extend for kilometers, interspersed with a few tiny beaches that offer some of the best waves in Europe. At low tide, those rocks reveal an exuberant patchwork of marine life, a feast of colors and textures made up of tiny creatures that are even more fascinating to look at than the beautiful landscape around. In fact, if you’re walking there, you better pay much more attention to the seascape below your feed than to the surrounding view, because one slight misstep will leave you flat on the ground, wet and mangled by the sharp-edged slippery rocks.
Nortada is the strong northerly wind that regularly batters this coast, especially during the winter. It usually brings with it cold stormy weather and rough big seas. The wind can be so strong that it trips you, and a walk along the coast will leave your skin covered in sea salt. The environment becomes raw and beautiful, with rain clouds rushing by and the sky transforming at every blink of our eyes. In 2018, still settling into my new life, I went for a routine medical check-up and left with a diagnosis of leukemia. After attempting a series of unsuccessful treatments, my doctors concluded that my only possibility for a cure would be a bone marrow transplant. It was a 50/50 chance of success. It took more than a year for them to find a suitable donor. When it finally happened, the Covid pandemic hit. My transplant was in the middle of it.
During the first months of my recovery, I was too weak to leave my home. But as soon as I felt that I could walk more than a just few steps, it was on the rocky coast at low tide, in the middle of winter, that I resumed my connection to the world. There was the only place safe enough for me to be outside. Other people were a threat to my immune system, still in the middle of the process of rebuilding itself. Not to mention the virus. My skin was too delicate to be exposed to the sun. By the time it came over the hill behind the village, I had to be back home. So my walks started before dawn, with most of the village still in bed. The cold salty wind on my face was my first reencounter with life beyond survival. For months, those walks were my only interaction with the world outside my house. As I gradually recovered my strength, each day I ventured a little further, the challenge of keeping my balance on the slippery rocks in the semi-darkness giving me a new awareness of my body and the world around me.
The Nortada days allowed those walks to end later. The clouds shielded me from the sun, the strong cold wind kept people at home. The stormy days were my safe space. Slowly a desire came to make photos during those walks, just for the pleasure of it, a feeling that years of photography as a job had practically killed.
This work, made with my phone, is the result of those walks, a documentation of my process of recovery and my rediscovery of photography as a pleasure. And a rediscovery, in awe, of the world itself.