By Lala the Sunchaser.
I first met Mara months ago at a pizza party where we shared only a few pleasantries then bid each other a good night. The next time we talked it would be for over an hour at a friend’s going away party. We took turns lying in the communal hammock on the roof of a popular hostel, sharing stories about our lives and what brought us to Itacaré. Rosemara Borgens de Carvalho, or Mara as her friends and family call her, was born in the neighboring town of Taboquinas. She has been living in Itacaré for more than twenty years. Her story inspired me and I’m glad that Mara was willing to share it with you.
Describe Itacaré in three words.
(HUGE SMILE!) Belisimo! Exuberant! Exotic!
What do you do here? I have been working as an artist for the last ten years. At first it was a kind of therapy, but now it’s how I make my living. I’m co-owner of an accessory shop on Pituba. I also assist an English teacher in my neighborhood of Barrio Novo two nights weekly. I adore working with children.
At the party, you shared your story about how this shop came about. Please tell me again.
For six years, I had been working in Infant Education. My focus was teaching young children how to read and write. I also worked as a Nanny from time to time and was hired to work in Salvador. One day my boss was admiring the blouse and hairpiece I was wearing. I told her that I made them both. She was taken aback and demanded that I return home immediately. She told me, “You are an artist Mara. What are you doing here working for me? Go back to your city and open a shop, make art. You have a gift.”
The following day I returned to Itacaré and noticed this location was for rent. (I conducted the interview in her shop on the main road.) I contacted the owner and signed the papers that day … I didn’t have any money, nothing. The rent was R$400 so I ask three of my girlfriends to open it with me and invest R$100 each. They weren’t aware that I had already signed the papers. It was like something was pushing me … a little voice that said, “Go, Try, You Can Do It!” In hindsight, I believe that when you really want something, you find a way. And when you don’t, you make excuses.
How did you learn to make clothes and accessories?
I didn’t take a course or study formally. A good friend who is now one of my partners at the shop makes clothes; I asked her to give me her left-over fabric, the scraps. I would recycle them, making fuxico and hair pieces; and now, that’s what I do.
What inspires your work?
Colors … vibrant colors.
Do you believe in God?
Yes. God is a figure … pure and perfect. The creator who is superior to all of us.
What do you like to do when you are not working?
I love samba … dancing, singing, and listening to it. My favorites are Maria Rita and Alcione. I also like to “people watch” especially at the beach.
What is your favorite Itacaré beach?
Resende … when I am there I am transformed … all worries disappear. I feel light and free.
What’s in store for the future of Itacaré?
It’s a city that is progressing but there are two sides: one positive and one negative. On the positive side, businesses are growing, there are more jobs, and better technology. However, this type of progression brings pollution, more garbage, drugs, crime and violence. This is a world-wide problem but it is more impactful in a small town like Itacaré.
I would like the city officials and the residents to invest more energy and money in education, professional courses, and cultural arts then sports being last. This is important to me because I have two children, ages fifteen and thirteen. They attend the public school in town.
If you could have three wishes, what would they be?
Oh goodness, this is difficult … I will pick one for my work, one for me, and one for the world.
1) Professional: I want to grow as an artist and business owner … to evolve and earn my way.
2) Individual: To find romantic love … someone who wants to share everything.
3) World: That each person will experience peace. There is too much violence and war in the world.
Last question Mara, what is your favorite restaurant?
Malagueta, the spaghetti bolognese is delicious.
Mara and I could have easily talked all night. As she closed the shop, she shared another story about one of her many jobs as a receptionist in a funeral parlor. I couldn’t imagine her surround by grieving people and coffins. She was nearly in tears when she described how sad it was to have to sell things to people while they were in mourning. I’m happy she found her passion and Itacaré is better for it.