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Liacy e Miracy

Memory, the deed that tells who you are

Liacy and Miracy are two sisters born and raised in Barra Grande. They have been together for all of their lives, sharing the place, family, fishing and memories. Lia is 72 years old, but her youthfulness and willingness to fish make her look much younger. An adventurer, Lia accompanies Chica on speedboat fishing trips, which require the courage to enter the open sea. And she says that she catches octopus, but that what she really likes is to go fishing in the sea and catch cioba. 


Lia is a storyteller, her stories are always accompanied by small “tales” that she was told:

“Once I caught a robalo that weighed 1.2 kg, just 1, there in Alto (name of a coral reef).”

Desenho 03 - Cioba

The pleasure of telling her accomplishments as a fisherwoman is notable. For her, fishing seems to be not just about doing work to support the family but about the challenge, the conquest. Lia recalls the weights, sizes of her catches and even remembers facts that happened on the day to prove her stories, like the tradition of fishing for big dourado every Thursday before Good Friday.


“Uma vez eu peguei um dourado de 5 kg, e no outro ano, peguei um de 6 kg.”

“Once I caught a 5 kg dourado, and the other year, I caught a 6 kg one.”

The Budião

Lia is currently married to a village business owner, and has a comfortable life. Her sons, who also own businesses, are always mentioned with great pride. They do not fish. Lia says that she doesn't need to fish for food. She does it for fun. Lia catches octopuses for her own consumption, or to feed her family members. Proudly, she mentions that her grandchildren love her rice with octopus, but her husband prefers her moqueca.

Two of her grandchildren sometimes go fishing with her, but only rarely. As she says, they have school and “their things” to do.

I accompanied fisherwomen fishing for octopus and for fish on the bridge, but I never met their children and/or grandchildren. In general, the women are there, always together. When one is absent, they make the other present the whole time by commenting on the reason for the absence over and over again.

The fishing on the bridge is a moment of much conversation and “resenha”, as they say in Bahia. While putting the bait on the hook and the line in the water, the women talk about the families, make jokes, are greeted and affectionately teased by passersby.

Foto 34 - Lia com peixe na ponte.JPG

Lia with the fish on the bridge

They arrive together at around 4 pm on the bridge, with their samburás and their rods. First they sit on the side along the pier, side by side, and begin putting the bait on the hooks and the lines in the water. Everything is done very simply, it is not a ritual moment, or something that requires a lot of preparation. It is something rooted in their daily lives. They sit and wait… Until some fish take their bait, and then they pull out their rods. Sometimes they hook the fish, sometimes they don't.  In both cases it's common for them to joke with each other about the fish they caught or didn't catch. They also talk about the species they want to catch, complain when they catch unwanted species – because they don't like that species, or because they are too small – and go back to calling the specific fish they want.

Foto 35 - Mira pescando.JPG

Mira fishing

Dona Miracy always complained about the chicharros that insisted on biting her bait and swam away without being hooked. When she hooked them, she would put them in her samburá and say:


"I didn't want you, but since you took my bait....Now I want my Chumberga."

The feeling of a family environment abounds in these moments. The women help one another, whether with advice, or with the lines, hooks and bait that they share when one of them is lacking. Sometimes they even share fish when the abundance is greater for one than for the other.

Foto 36 - Mira caminhando nos corais.JPG

Mira walking on the corals

In octopus fishing, it is no different, when one of them has difficulty pulling an octopus out of a hole, others come over to help her. I once witnessed a scene where Miracy, after having hooked an octopus, had a lot of difficulty pulling it out of the hole. The animal is strong, and had attached itself to the walls of the hole with its suction cups, making it difficult for the fisherwoman. To do this kind of fishing, it is necessary to assume a curved posture that is difficult to sustain for a long time. It is common for the women to complain of lower back pain, but they do not seem to associate it with the movement of force with the curved spine required to remove the octopus.

Foto 37 - Lia com samburá nos corais.JPG

Lia with samburá in the corals

On the day in question, Liacy and Marlita joined together to help pull Mira's octopus, which fell apart. At the end of the undertaking, they did not want any part or retribution for the great effort they had made, they did not expect any kind of compensation, they were guided by the solidarity and spirit of partnership, characteristics which permeated all of their fishing. It was a collaboration. Walking through the corals, the conversations were shorter and more sporadic than on the bridge, as the women spread out on the coral and even split off into different corals to look for the octopuses. Dona Mira and Dona Lia usually stay together, in the closest corals. Younger fisherwomen like Chica and Loloca walked to the reefs furthest from the stopping point. But in general, the walk back to the ATVs was together. When Dona Mira started to walk towards the vehicles, I observed that from afar, the other fisherwomen were already walking with their octopuses on their wires.

End of fishing

Miracy is a cheerful 74-year-old who loves to talk. Always sharing her recipes and stories about the past where she lived with her parents. In general, conversations about fishing with Miracy led to memories of how her mother cooked, or something her father said or did.


“Meu pai dizia: - Bote água no fogo que eu vou ali buscar a janta, e quando meu pai voltava era de samburá cheio!”

“My father used to say: - Start heating up the water and I'll go there to get dinner, and when my father came back, he was full of samburá!”

Mira on the bridge

The affective bond that Dona Mira has with this family past is so strong that it is constantly present in our conversations. Mira is the only fisherwoman who says she sustains herself from fishing. By that she means that even today, fishing is her main source of income, and that is why she needs it (and that it is good) to survive. But during the round of conversations we had with the fisherwomen, she reminded everyone who was there, who said they did not live from fishing, that in the past, they were all raised exclusively from fishing, and that fishing represented food security for their parents and grandparents. As she recalls:

“We had a little house on the coast, where we would go and my father would say: go my daughter, but don't take the big ones, just the small ones to make the currute octopus. We didn't even take food with us, we cleaned it right there, seasoned it, cooked it, made a little mush with cassava flour... and Oxente! It was a wonderful life! Much better than today!”

Mira "poking" the octopus hole

Mira is called a man by the other fisherwomen, by which they mean that Mira is so brave that she often plays “officially male” roles in fishing. Like when she took over the camboa from her father. Despite being a job for men, when her father passed away, she was the one who took over the maintenance of the trap. The other fisherwomen value her for this, and highlight the importance of this attitude. Because if she hadn't taken over at that moment, camboa would have ended, says the group. But the memories of that time don't always trigger only good feelings. The nostalgia of that past is confronted by feelings about the different world today. With other values, the arrival of tourism and globalization, other ways of relating economically, and climate change, the women eulogize a past that allowed them to live with less comfort but more joy. As Chica said:

“Era muito mais dificuldade, hoje a gente tem tudo, mas a vida era bem melhor.” 

“It was much more difficult. Today we have everything. But life was much better then.”


Her opinion is illustrative of the women's preference for a less urban lifestyle, where access to the material goods achieved through greater economic activity does not satisfy them as much as a family life, a slower pace of life, and simplicity. Chica's opinion demonstrates that having everything is clearly not the best possibility. 


Dona Miracy notes:


“Você já pensou, que todo mundo nativo daqui, criou os filhos com a pescaria. Colocava o caçueiro, e de manhã a gente vinha com os cestos, essa camboa aí, dava era mil quilos de peixe.”

“Have you ever thought that all the nativos here raised their children with fishing? They would put the caçueiro, and in the morning we would come with the baskets, this camboa, and would carry a thousand kilos of fish.”

Stories from the old days

Mira laments that her father sold the land they grew up fishing on, a great source of sadness for her and her sisters. This situation was a common one in the areas we visited, where in the wake of tourism and development, everything changes. When the money arrives, land is sold at affordable prices often by families who do not have monetary knowledge and who are then forced to live in spaces different from those they are used to. This was precisely the case of Mira and Lia's family. Fishers by birth, they lost their land facing the sea where they would get their fresh food at mealtimes. They began to adopt a different lifestyle, storing food due to the impossibility of easy access to the ocean, along with the new need to sell fish to make money.

Lia e Miracy
Loloca Bené e Marisa
Foto 42 - Samburá.JPG
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